A Brief Odyssey Into Odesza

The electronic music duo Odesza dropped its third studio album, A Moment Apart, today. We got a hold of half of the act, Harrison Mills, to talk about the music and the live show.

Julian Bajsel
– Odesza
Odesza gives an otherworldly performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., May 27.

Odesza has grown into an EDM behemoth over the last five years. Nearly all headline shows we have on record for them have been 100 percent sold out.

Early on, one could say that the high percentage could be attributed to the small rooms. This year, though, Mills and his bandmate, Clayton Knight, have filled

And the upcoming tour seems sure to make believers out of any doubters.

Last weekend the guys headlined in front of a massive crowd at Bumbershoot in their hometown of Seattle, keeping the crowd hyped through a power outage and bringing out guests like Naomi Wild and Leon Bridges, who are also featured on the new album.

The band’s upcoming routing starts in Australia and New Zealand, moves to Europe before hitting North America for about two months. The venues for the upcoming tour are mostly arenas, theatres and amphitheatres.

When the guys from Odesza aren’t in the studio or working out their live show they are running the Foreign Family Collective to help up-and-coming artists get momentum behind their singles. The label has also signed artists like Big Wild, Chet Porter, and Jai Wolf.

We got Mills on the phone a few days before Odesza’s performance at Bumbershoot.

You guys have the album A Moment Apart coming out next month?

Yeah, we’ve been working on this album on and off since our last one. We’ve taken a lot of care and we’ve worked really hard on it so we’re excited for people to hear it.

What do you think about how EDM has sort of morphed with pop, rock, and hip hop in unique ways, so even though pure electronic stuff might not get much love in the top 40, its influences are felt everywhere?

I was always drawn into electronic music. That’s kind of our bread and butter, [blending hip hop and rock and dance music]. I kinda learned from collaging old movie soundtracks. I’ve always had a lot of love for different genres.

I think that’s kinda the special thing about electronic music. It’s so easy to sprinkle in a little influence here and there. That’s what excites me about electronic music and it’s something I think we’ve always tried to do in our stuff.

From the singles, it seems like you’ve done a lot in this album to keep a similar feel through all the different songs.

We always take a lot of pride and care in our albums. There’s a lot of music that would have done better on its own that didn’t fit the album. We fell in love through music, through albums, and not through tracks.

When we make a live show, it’s a completely different process. We really consider it introverted versus extroverted experiences. One is community-based, one is a bit more intimate.

But when you are running Foreign Family Collective aren’t you trying to hype other peoples’ singles?

Yeah, that’s not the way we operate but it’s a way we can help younger people and give them some shine. A lot of labels make you commit three albums just to [release] a song. We want to make this as easy as possible. …. We’re all about [letting artists] acclimate.

So what do you look for with the artists you help promote?

I’m looking for originality and above that, I’m looking for career-oriented artist. I’m looking for someone I can truly invest in as an artist. I really look for longevity and uniqueness.

But as an artist when you do something that really is different, doesn’t that narrow your audience a little bit?

I enjoy when a producer can make something familiar but has all these moments. … Nowadays, it’s really shifted from “Can you write a good album” to “Are you a good performer?” Obviously you have to make good music, but if you want longevity you have to go outside your comfort zone and do your best at everything.

You guys actually ran a stage at Electric Forest with artists like Tycho and TroyBoi appearing. They aren’t on FFC, but they played on your stage?

When you do a festival stage, it’s kinda hard to have all your artists come and play [with touring schedules and other commitments]. And of course, we’re friends with all those people. It was a bit more of a collaboration. Our booking agent actually books most of the artists on our label. We were curating it but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty details he did most of that work.

You did two nights at Red Rocks earlier this year. Those shows looked amazing. Does that venue have any special significance to you?

Red Rocks is definitely the place where we try to really set the goal of what we’d like our show to be like. It’s such a gorgeous venue. You basically watch a sunset over a cliff. I don’t know if there is a more gorgeous venue except maybe

Also, Denver is a strong hub for electronic music and people come to experience something new. I love when you can go to a crowd and try a lot of new things. You don’t have to inch someone in but you can try a lot of new things.

Can you talk more about how the live experience is different from the album experience?

We remake tons of music. I’d say 60 percent of our show is newer versions of [our] old songs. We have a drumline for most of the U.S. tour. Horns and guitars, drum sequencing and triggering. We spend a lot of time making it not so much a set but more of a theatrical experience.

You guys seem to really want to spend a lot of time in each market. Are you gonna mix up the sets?

We always mix it up. I think some general structure stuff will be the same. There’s only so much you can do to not trip up your visual and lighting guy. Clay and I have control over [the music]. …

But if we wanted to change up a whole section of the show, we would have to send it to our light person, who is not there. General structure stuff, we leave a lot of room in the set to try things. But it’s a bit harder to move full sections of a show.

You’ve been around long enough that you’ve toured Europe, Australia, South America. Is there anywhere else you’d like to go?

I really want to go to Japan. I’ve always been a fan of Japanese culture and a lot of crazy music that’s come out of there. I’d love to just experience it.

At this stage is there still a plan to grow your audience?

Ideally you always grow. Of course, I’m still hungry and I want us to do the best that we can do. Most of our audience is super open-minded. … But we want to make music that we feel good about and hopefully the audience grows with you. It’s important to make music for yourself and hope the audience grows with you.

Anything else?

I would definitely say this is the most theme-based album we’ve done. It’s the one with the most narrative. I’m extremely proud of it. To me it’s about balance and changing perspective as you mature and grow as a person. I hope people can make their own attachment to it the same way that we have made ours.

Andrew Jorgensen
– Odesza
Snowglobe Music Festival, Lake Tahoe Community College, South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Odesza’s latest touring plans are available on the band’s Pollstar artist page. The album is available for streaming and purchase now.