Last month, weeks before their arrival date, Seattle electro-pop duo ODESZA successfully sold out two shows at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry. Then, due to venue troubles and fervent ticket demand, the show’s promoters decided to take a leap. This Thursday, April 16, ODESZA makes a huge 805 debut at the Arlington Theatre for what I’m already sure is going to be the festival season kickoff show of 2015.
For the unacquainted, ODESZA’s Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight make a heady hybrid of beat-borne music. Their orchestrations are twinkly and groovy, and the bass drops are rumbly behemoths, but they also employ verses and lyrics and hooks. In other words, theirs is the type of electronic music that can satisfy rave kids and music purists alike.
In anticipation of ODESZA’s upcoming S.B. takeover, we caught up with Knight to talk sold-out tours, collaborations, and some of the band’s, um, freakier live shows. For tickets and info, visit thearlingtontheatre.com.
How are you? Where are you? Good! We’re in Nashville right now.
How have the shows been going? Really good. Everything has been sold-out! We got the news three or four nights ago that the whole thing went in advance. It’s an honor to see so many people coming out and seeing so many people respond to music.
You two have been on the receiving end of a whole lot of attention lately. Do you remember a watershed moment where you started to realize things were taking off? You know, we’ve been going so hard and so fast that we really haven’t had a whole lot of time to soak it all in. I think in the future, when things kind of slow down, Coachella will definitely be one of those moments where you look around and go, “Wow, this is real. This is happening.” But it’s all pretty surreal right now. We kind of live in a bubble. It’s really weird.
What were you doing prior to ODESZA? I was in school before we started going after the music thing and I was planning on going to grad school. I worked for Postal Express, though, so I was delivering Staples products most of the day [laughs]. I graduated, and we created a handful of tracks in our basement as a hobby, but then things kind of started rolling, and, well, here we are.
You guys tend to get lumped in with a lot of other EDM artists, which I do and don’t agree with. How do you describe your music to people? I usually tell them it’s electronic pop music — that’s what I’ve been doing. But if no one knows what we do, I just say we’re producers. That’s the go-to line; but yeah, we do get lumped in with the heavier EDM stuff, which is weird because I don’t see how our music fits in there, but those fans have also always been really good to us, and it’s a supportive scene, so I can’t say anything bad about it. It’s a really passionate crowd, and they love the music and really get into it, so I’m happy to be a part of it; but yeah, we’re all over the map in terms of genres.
Has touring changed the way you work on music? Definitely. Our first release was just us messing around; we didn’t really have a clear goal. It was just tracks we threw together and put online. The last record was definitely our time to grow up a little bit — we featured live vocalists and tried to work with artists and produce tracks that were more full songs with verses and choruses instead of just beats. That was definitely new territory for us, and the response has been amazing.
What’s the craziest show you’ve played thus far? Last night was really fun. We played in Asheville, North Carolina, and I crowd-surfed for the first time. That was a blast. But the craziest show? We’ve got some stories of people getting down and dirty at some of our shows. There was one in Missoula, Montana, where it happened and then again in Prague.
Did you say Missoula, Montana? Yeah. You wouldn’t expect it, but I guess it’s flattering?