Electro duo ODESZA on their chart-busting new album, immersive live show and hanging out with Kevin Parker

Chilled-out indietronica making waves in the US

Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills are that rare duo who can boast a mind-blowing live show and an impressive studio sound. Both grew up in Seattle before meeting at nearby Western Washington University. They quickly became friends and starting making lo-fi, electronic music together. Five years later and ODESZA have just released their third full-length album A Moment Apart. Stuffed with proggy jams and sublime indie-pop, it’s their most ambitious project yet and went straight in at number two on the Billboard 200. Latest single ‘Across The Room’ dropped on Monday and even though they’re “not a singles band”, it totally bangs.

We sat down with the synth-pop wizards to talk Tame Impala, Nicolas Winding Refn and why they’ve been lying to the press for years.

So your new album debuted at number two in the States. Were you surprised?

Clayton Knight: “Yeah. It was a lot of hard work and we were worried because you don’t know how people will to react. There was a big weight on our shoulders and it’s like we can breathe again. We were hoping for top 10 so it feels like we’ve kicked the door in this time.

Harrison Mills: It’s crazy. We got the news in Australia. Our tour manager gave us a call and we were running around like little girls.”

Your live show is an important part of ODESZA and you call it an “immersive experience”. What do you mean by that?

CK: “There’s lots of elements – a horn section, guitarist, sound devices, a drum line that goes out into the crowd. We’re always trying to build it into a theatrical performance by separating it into chapters within a play. We want it to be a rollercoaster ride of different sounds, genres and emotions.”

What does your name mean?

HM: “When we first started, the real story behind our name wasn’t that interesting. So we decided we were gonna tell a different story in every interview. But about four interviews in, we ran out.”

Can you tell me one of the stories?

HM: “The best one is about my uncle. He was a fisherman in Alaska and he was on a boat and they got lost. It sank, and him and the Captain were the only people that survived. They picked him up four days after it sank and he had really bad frostbite in his toes. The boat was called Odessa. I remember when I told my uncle about it and he said, ‘Keep telling it. You have to keep telling the story!'”

What’s the truth?

HM: “The true story is that we were both big fans of Caribou. We wanted to be called ‘Odessa’ – after his song – but there’s already a UK hardcore band with that name. So we just added a z.”

You’ve described your music as “cinematic”. Is there a director you’d like to score a film for?

HM: “Nicholas Winding Refn would be amazing. Drive is my favourite but I loved Bronson too. I’ve always been a fan of people who can conquer the long shot. If you can make a shot that’s 10 minutes long look interesting, with suspense, tension and that’s beautiful to watch, then to me you’re a king.”

You’ve collaborated with Bonobo before – how did that happen?

CK: “We met him at Coachella for the first time. We were super nervous and fanboying pretty hard. Now we’re friends.”

HM: “We did exactly what you should never do, which is walk up and say, “hey man, so track four of your album, how did you make that?” We said we’d never do something like that, but the silence was killing us!”

Your pals with Kevin Parker too, right?

HM: “Yeah. We first met in San Francisco at Outlands Festivals in 2014. This journalist was writing a story on us and she was friends with him. After that we ended up running into him about eight times in a year.”

CK: “Then we opened up for Tame Impala a few times in South America. Kevin’s a super nice, super humble, really cool guy.”

What’s next for ODESZA?

CK: “I’m excited to start writing again. It feels like everyone is still ingesting this new album for the first time. But I’m ready to do the next one! The big question is, where do we go next?”

A Moment Apart is out now on Counter Records