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ODESZA -cover

ODESZA is the latest in a long line of pop-electro DJ duos out of the West Coast of the US. From relatively small beginnings in 2012, they’ve spent the last 12 months making a name for themselves and are coming our way to perform on Saturday, June 28, for the Circo festival at Claremont Showgrounds. SIMON DONNES speaks with Clayton Knight about their success and the tides of dance music.

ODESZA are as Majestic Casual as they come.
They don’t push too many boundaries and like the Lana del Ray of the turntables, they are the middle-of-the-road bandcamp music that earns it’s vague title of ‘Genre: Electronic’. While the US West Coast has had something of a hip hop and down-tempo renaissance in recent years, the closest thing ODESZA sounds like from the bay area is the Glitch Mob. Maybe things just filter up slowly to the great state of Washington.

Having signed to Pretty Lights Recording last year, ODESZA released their first album and provided the opening act for both Pretty Lights himself and Emancipator. Now they’ve just concluded three months of touring around the US, including a bunch of sell-out shows.

“They were definitely a smaller scale, Pretty Lights crowds were a whole other magnitude, but coming off our own headline tour it’s really nice to see fans coming out for you and having that response, knowing that they’re there for you. It was refreshing, a bit more intimate,” Knight says.

Their first album was born out of their time spent as an opening act. “We had played some shows and realised a lot of what we had written was pretty low key and slower stuff but for a live setting we wanted a little more energy; so we set out to make material with more heavier beats and louder stuff. We never planned on releasing it, we were just going to use it for live sets and mixing but we kept getting questions about it, what it was, where did we find it, so we just sort of bundled it together and put it out.”

That put all questions regarding consistent tone, pacing and general album composition to rest. For the DJ-cum-producer duo the appeal is not in the long-form album, and people sitting at home with a cup of tea listening to it are not their audience. Their success has been and will continue to be defined by their live presence .

“I think we give more of an indie vibe with warm sounds and a lot of grainy tonality,“ Knight says. “We try to imitate vinyl as much as possible and put it in our music.”

How live performances will stack up with their newer, softer sound remains to be seen. “We wanted to see how far we can push ourselves in one direction with this second album,“ Knight says. “We’re not sure exactly where it fits in, it’s definitely a little poppier than previous stuff, less beat-oriented. It was a conscious decision; when we brought more vocalists in that we wanted to make it more easily consumed by a wider audience.”

That the I Can’t Stand Still Collective (I.C.S.S.C) has a hand bringing them out to Perth for Circo is something of a comforting thought. Daniel Dalton, the man behind the collective, has proven time and again he can pick winners and set up great shows. The timing of this softer, poppier new album is curious – the sound that Dalton has been known for cultivating at his shows are high-octane and grimey, stylistically a lot closer to ODESZA’s first album, and how much new material they’ll play here is yet to be seen. Details are tight though, “I can’t really talk about it (laughs), not even the name. I will tell you it is coming out.”

Despite their harder-hitting beginnings, ODESZA don’t see themselves fully on board with the EDM movement. “It’s definitely something I understand, coming from a four-on-the-floor background I certainly understand how all that build up, all the drops can get you pumped up. I mean, like everything from dubstep to trap, it kind of does its own thing and then fades out, so I understand it. I see where it’s at but I try to be associated with it as little as possible,” Knight says.

“I see us taking part in it, definitely, but I don’t want us to be just riding one wave, we want to show people we can make a bunch of different styles of music, not just heavy EDM.”


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