Sun Models (feat. Madelyn Grant)
The boys of Odesza came into Denver to play two sold out shows. I got to sit down with them before their second show and got to know the two a bit better and how they came to be such a driving new name in the music industry.
TMN: Tonight I have the pleasure of interviewing the duo ODESZA who have returned to the Mile High City for two sold-out show nights. Harrison, Clayton, welcome back and thanks for taking the time to sit down with TMN.
TMN: So, let’s kind of rewind a bit here. Can you boys tell me about your musical backgrounds? Did either of you come from musical households or did either of you participate in any music related activities as kids?
Clayton: My dad was a trained classical pianist so he was playing all the time. So then I started studying classical piano for about eight years and then some jazz. But then I went to college and kind of stopped playing and got more into recording guitar stuff. From recording to the software kind of led me into the production area which led me into getting into dance music and just producing in general.
Harrison: I started, well I basically heard the Gorillaz senior year of high school and I started getting into hip-hop because I heard Del rapping on that song.
TMN: You totally look like a hip-hop guy.
Harrison: (Laughs) Really? (Points at his button up shirt) With this? So, I got really into 90’s hip-hop and I was really into movie scores and hip-hop and everything in-bewteen. I would mess with pianos I got from Goodwill and stuff like that, and then messing around with sampling and started using Reason and then two years in, I met Clay and we started jamming.
TMN: Both of you graduated a few years back from Western Washington University correct? What were your actual degrees in?
Harrison: I was a New Media Design major which is graphic design across different mediums like web aps to websites themselves and motion graphics things like that.
Clayton: I studied physics.
TMN: Ok, I like that, a little jump from physics to music.
Clayton: (Laughs) Oh yeah, a bit of a jump, both a bit mathematical.
Harrison: I think when I was doing design stuff and I would show someone it they would be like “Oh, that’s cool” but that is as far as it would ever go, it didn’t like change anything. But when I made a song and people listening to it were like, “Wow, this is really cool” and you were directly affecting them, like, you have more of an impact on other people. So when I put out my album and had people reach out to me, that was my ah-ha moment, realized that was my thing.
Clayton: I don’t know when that really happened for me. Music has always been a hobby, I never really took it serious until recently. The moment that it got serious was our first show, I had always been making music but had never performed, like I had done piano recitals in high school and shit but nothing like that. To go do a show where people come out for your music was the realization that this could be something real.
TMN: Now what is your, “how we met story”?
Harrison: (Laughs) Well we locked eyes at a bar and it was game over…We actually have a mutual friend named Sean Leonard and he’s a badass and an awesome director who has played a lot of guitar on our songs. He was talking about directing a music video for me so I was over at his house a lot and because of the music I was working on he was always saying this guy Clayton was working on music too and we should meet each other. One day, I was at Sean’s house and Clay was there and we showed each other our music and saw we liked a lot of the same stuff and then we just started jamming and then decided to make a project out of it.
TMN: That’s a very nice how we met story guys.
Clayton: (Laughs) It’s so cute.
TMN: And how did you come up with the name Odesza?
Clayton: Well, we basically liked Odessa with two s’s.
TMN: Right, the English spelling.
Clayton: (Laughs) Exactly. We really liked the sound and look of that name. We did some research who else or what else had that name and we found out there was a UK Scream-o/Hard rock band who had some pretty serious following over there but we decided to add a “z” and Odezsa was born.
TMN: With your first release in 2012 “Summer’s Gone” there came a lot of hype almost immediately as a couple of the tracks off the EP went straight to #1 on Hype Machine. When you both saw the almost instant success of your production, how did that make both of you feel?
Harrison: We were definitely excited that people were enjoying our music. But to us we didn’t really know what hype machine meant in the real world. We were like, wow this is really cool people are liking our music but we had no idea it would lead to anything at all because we have not played any shows. We had a bit of a panic we were producers, we had never played anything live and people started asking us to play places.
Harrison: I don’t want to make it sound like I am boasting or anything but I think people want something new. I think people are getting sick of the same EDM stuff and we try to keep it classy electronic. We want to make sure we are hitting beats but not overpowering listeners. I think a lot of artists hop on trends and they make it the most overpowering beat. We try to stay true to what we like in a song but also pull from other songs we like.
Clayton: I think people are ready for pretty music where it isn’t just noise. It’s really cool to make something loud and a hit on the dance floor but people really want something they can just put headphones on and zone out to. It has to hit a little bit but it doesn’t have to be straight distant noise.
TMN: So you mean not that drop at 1:00 that you find in almost all songs?
Clayton: Exactly! Like pitch for one minute and then the same synths before the huge drop. I get it, I get why it’s cool, I understand the energy. But I could never find myself listening to it at home relaxing.
TMN: You mean just chilling at home with all these massive drops ringing in your ears?
Clayton: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s not the kind of music we want to make.
TMN: In these past few months of 2014 you’ve released one of my favorites “Sun Models” with Madelyn Grant, your PL remix and then of course your No. Sleep mixes which I’ve got to tell you, are just about perfect for anything you are doing at any time of the day. Working out, working in general, making sweet love, all of these things are enjoyable while listening to the Sleep mixes. Tell us the idea behind your Sleep mixes and where you hope to take them?
Harrison: I think it’s really just something that defines us, or shows how diverse we like music and like producing music. No Sleep is like the ode to that, it will go from an Indie song to a hard hitting trap song to like, a mix of both of those things. We definitely like a lot of different stuff and we try to showcase that and I think a lot of people like that stuff but don’t get a chance to hear it. So it’s nice we get to put that on a platform and show so many different kinds of music. Because there are so many people who are so talented but have no shine in this industry and if we can help push people who are doing stuff out there so maybe if becomes more of a common thing. Because the radio is telling people what a cool sound is and hopefully it will get to that place. For example trap music, I’m not the biggest fan of trap but it made it’s way to a Katy Perry song. So you can slowly get it in there you just have to make sure that you do it the right way. Hopefully people will slowly take notice of the prettier, more beautiful tracks.
TMN: Now you’ve been touring since the new year and have been selling out shows in some cities which always is a huge accomplishment for any artist. What has been your favorite city to play in so far?
Clayton: We have not played many this tour but Salt Lake went off. They had great energy.
Harrison: Yeah the minute we walked out on stage the crowd started.
Clayton: When you first get up there, I feel like you have to ease people into what you are doing a little bit, you can’t be too overwhelming right off the bat.
Harrison: Yeah but Salt Lake was like, whatever you want to play, we are down.
TMN: Let’s shift over now to some less serious questions. You both lived in Seattle for a long time, I went there for the first time a month ago and loved it. What are three great things about Seattle?
Harrison: The people are awesome. I know there is this stigma, the Seattle freeze, have you heard of this?
TMN: No, no I have not.
Harrison: They say it’s really hard to make friends because they say people in Seattle keep to themselves which is true. But these are also the people who say excuse me wherever they go.
TMN: Yes, they were super polite.
Harrison: Exactly. People definitely care.
Clayton: Second one, I’m going to say the weather. Now let me explain this, obviously it rains a lot but for what we do and the amount of time we spend inside working on music and stuff it is probably the best situation. And then when summer comes it really makes you appreciate when the sun shows up. It’s so green and lush for those three months and fantastic.
Harrison: It is so close to the mountains too, and there is water.
Clayton: Just the look of it, it’s so pretty out there.
Harrison: (Laughs) Is pretty our word?
TMN: You have used it quite frequently but it’s a good word. I will take those two.
Harrison: I wanted to be a cartoonist until I was about twenty so I draw stupid stuff all the time.
TMN: Are you going to draw something in here before you leave? (There is a huge white fridge in the green room with tons of drawings on it).
Clayton: I mean I think you have to. I can ice skate, I played hockey for a few years so I’m good at that.
Harrison: Figure skating actually.
TMN: Partner figure skating?
Clayton: (Laughs) Yup that’s actually how we really met.
TMN: If you could get on a plane, train, boat, or automobile tomorrow and go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Harrison: I want to go to Bali or Thailand.
Clayton: I want to go to Australia. Some nice sun, you want to go to Australia too.
TMN: You know you should just get a world tour going and do all of it, knock on wood, it’s going to happen.
TMN: If you could describe the other in three words, how would you describe them?
Clayton: Oh man this is good this has never been done before. Strong, swagger, bro.
Harrison: (Laughs) Do we have to do this? This is brutal.
TMN: You can do one word.
Clayton: I would say very conscious, that’s two words. But he’s conscious of everything around him.
Harrison: That’s perfect! (Laughs) It’s a perfect joke and a compliment.
Clayton: He just is overly aware of what is going on around him at all times. It can be excessive but always a good thing.
TMN: So you don’t have to worry about anything.
Clayton: Basically yeah he worries for us both.
TMN: Three things that are always in your fridge/cupboards?
Clayton: Eggs…well not on our tour bus (laughs).
Harrison: I think our recovery every morning is having Odwalla juice, those are our favorites. Usually whiskey…
Clayton: Tortillas…saracha! I don’t know if everyone puts that in the fridge.
TMN: If you could have any animal as a pet and you wouldn’t be arrested for it or anything, what would you have?
Clayton: I would say a dragon overall.
Harrison: I would say a slow loris, do you know what that is?
TMN: No, can we please Google this?
Harrison: (Laughs) Oh yes, it is the shit.
Clayton: I want a horse, I know that sounds girlie.
TMN: Like a stallion or a pony?
Clayton: (Laughs) A stallion of course.
Harrison: So, a slow loris is the cutest looking thing ever but they are endangered and poisonous.
TMN: So you think they are all cute and fuzzy and you go to pet them and they pretty much kill you?
Harrison: (Laughs) Yes, they bite you and you die. They do look so innocent.
Harrison: I like Coldplay. Icono-pop, we’ve been blasting that quite a bit.
Clayton: (Laughs) We have quite a lot…we hate on things but we still listen to it.
TMN: And finally the question we like to ask all artists, if your music were an animal, what animal would it be and why?
Clayton: Interesting question I don’t know how to answer that. A bear maybe? (Laughs)
TMN: A pretty bear, right?
Clayton: (Laughs) I mean I don’t know how to describe our music so it’s tough.
Harrison: How about a chameleon? Because it does so many different things.
Clayton: Oh yeah that’s a good one.
TMN: Guys, thank you so much for taking some time to chat with me today. Have so much fun playing to this sold out show and I’m sure we will see you back here soon!
ODESZA: Thank you so much!