Mar 18, 2015

Few artists have broken the electronic music mold from both a production and performance perspective in recent days quite like ODESZA. We spoke with the duo during their recent tour stop at the Orange Peel in Asheville about their new label, unique live setup, and fear of flying.

ODESZA feat. Zyra - Say My Name (Original Mix) [Counter]
LessThan3: How did you all start making music as ODESZA?
Harrison: We had a mutual friend in college and Clay lived with him. I was showing our friend music I was working on because he was a director and we were talking about doing a music video or something. Clay came downstairs while I was showing him and we got to talking and we found out we had really similar tastes and it was weird to meet anyone doing electronic music where we went to school at Western Washington University because it was very folk and rock oriented. We literally took off immediately; within two weeks we were working on music together and started our first album.
LessThan3: How did you become popular?
Clayton: It was a slow grind. We posted How Did I Get Here on our SoundCloud three years ago and it got some notice from a few blogs. Then we finished our album and put that up and that got us some pretty good attention, and it kind of just took off from there.
LessThan3: Now you are here on a sold out tour; congratulations. How do your live sets differ from your DJ sets?
Clayton: It’s all our own music. We have two Ableton sessions that are linked via thunderbolt cable and that gives the tempo data back and forth. I have all the control over all the drums and bass of every track, and he has control over all the toplines. So we can basically mix and match different sounds from different songs. It gives you a lot more freedom than just blending two tracks together. We can meld individual sounds, like a snare from one track into another. We also use SPDs and do some live tom drumming. It’s a work in progress.
LessThan3: How about the difference in the way you play for festivals and how you play for clubs or venues?
Harrison: At festivals you are up above everyone and it’s either a big group or completely outdoors, so it doesn’t feel as intimate. It can still be just as much fun; it’s just a different vibe. I don’t prefer one over the other. If the audience in enjoying it, I will always enjoy it.
Clayton: If we get a sound check at festivals we will add all the pieces from the live sets. If it’s just a line check then we will probably take out the toms and maybe the SPDs. It’s all pretty compact and made for anything, really.
LessThan3: Tell us about the vision behind Foreign Family Collective.
Harrison: Foreign Family is something we have been working on since Clay and I met. Originally we thought we would just put out our own music on this platform we were going to create. When we started working together we were working on the album so we put it on the backburner but we kept meeting all these talented people that really didn’t get the exposure we were lucky enough to get. We wanted to find a way to push those people and collaborate with them and get them collaborating with other artists as well. We slowly started building it and wanted to make sure that we did it right. We found a lot of people around the world that do this job very well, whether it be PR or pushing the music. We didn’t want to find someone, put up their music on our SoundCloud, and say that we own it. That is screwing over the artist. For us, it is 100 percent about wanting to help somebody if we really liked their music.
LessThan3: Will the collective be all forms of art or will you be sticking to music releases?
Clayton: The plan in the future is to have lots of forms of art, but the plan at the moment is to stick to tracks and singles, but as it evolves, the sky is the limit.
Harrison: We have a lot of ideas that, again, we want to take our time with because the last thing we should do is jump the gun on something. It’s about waiting on the right opportunities and the right people and trying different stuff.
LessThan3: What is your favorite remix that you made?
Harrison: Currently I like our remix of RAC’s We Belong.
Clayton: I would say the Slow Magic Waited 4 U remix. I love that vocal line.
LessThan3: What are your favorite remixes of your original songs?
Harrison: We love hearing different things that we may not be used to. I think the thing that makes us good producers is that we have so many different influences and a broad spectrum of music that we like.
Clayton: We really liked the remix contest winner for Say My Name, The Geek x Vrv remix.
Harrison: I think Jai Wolf’s remix of Say My Name was really cool too.
LessThan3: How would you describe your sound? Your fans describe it in many different ways.
Harrison: I like that it’s hard to define us; it’s my favorite thing about us. I usually say experimental pop with a hip-hop backbone. There are also mixes of ambient in there and some dance.
Clayton: We will go through phases. The stuff we are working on now is pretty hip-hoppy. Our first album was basically house. We like all different kinds of music and experimenting with different sounds.
LessThan3: Is there any significance behind the new album artwork?
Harrison: I majored in graphic design so I do a lot of our artwork. For the album I tried to combine the EP and our first album because I felt like it was a culmination of our style evolving and all coming together for the newest album. Adding the last piece with a vocalist and trying to make real singer/songwriter music. The logo is supposed to show that we like so many different styles and try to blend them together. It’s all these pieces coming together and creating an iconic symbol.
LessThan3: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming producers?
Clayton: Learn the software the best you can and spend the time to get over that initial learning curve because the more you know about the tools you are using makes you a better producer and you will be able to express yourself more and the sound you are looking for. Be it Ableton, Logic, whatever you are using, learn the ins and outs because it will help a lot in the long run. We mainly use Native Instruments Maschine for writing and producing and Logic for the mixdowns. Ableton is for the live stuff, and we have started producing a little more in it. They all have their pros and cons.
LessThan3: What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
Harrison: I think it’s funny that Clay and I are polar opposites, but exactly the same in so many ways. I am loud and Clay is a little more quiet, but not in a bad way. I am just the one talking a lot usually. But when it comes to music there is not a single thing we disagree on.
Clayton: I like Coldplay.
Harrison: *Laughing* That’s a good one–print that. I like Coldplay too. Oh, and we were scared sh*tless of flying when we first started. We didn’t even tell our manager or anyone and we were flying every day for three months. We are kind of used to it now. We just weren’t big travelers before.
Clayton: It’s not even the act of dying in a plane. It’s the few minutes before you die falling out of the sky that scares me the most.
Harrison: I hate when you are on a plane watching a movie and it shows a plane crash. Why is this on the f*cking plane?
LessThan3: It’s really cool that you are in sync with your music tastes.
Harrison: We are good at finding a reason for liking any music. We can find a track that is really experimental and not pleasing to the ear, but we can find what is interesting about that song. Like, “how did he make that synth?”, and we try to figure it out and understand the process, which makes us better at trying new things.
Clayton: Listen to the pieces–even if it is a bad song, there are usually portions I can find that I like or some instrumentation that sticks out to me.
LessThan3: Any new producers that you love at the moment?
Clayton: There is a new artist that I have kind of been obsessing over that only has three tracks named Leon Bridges. If you are into soul music, check him out. He is basically a reincarnation of Sam Cooke. It sounds like it was made 50 years ago. Whoever is producing it is doing an excellent job.
Harrison: I also like anything that Jai Paul makes. He is incredible and the album is f*cking outrageous.
LessThan3: If the world was ending in LessThan3 minutes and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Clayton: Dopamine Clouds Over Craven Cottage by Stars Of The Lid. It’s basically drone music with big tones. It’s very cinematic.
Harrison: An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno.
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