By Wal Reid
Odesza (Hungarian spelling of Odessa, Ukraine) are an American electronic music duo from Seattle made up of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. I mean if you haven't heard their hypnotic radio singles Faded or Say My Name then you need your head checked.
The dynamic duo formed in 2012 shortly before Mills and Knight graduated from university. Individually Mills is known as Catacombkid, and Knight is known as Beaches Beaches. In reference to how Mills got his nickname he says, "I got into Aesop Rock and he has a song called 'Catacomb Kids.' I thought it sounded cool. "On the other hand, Knight got his nickname when I was high in my bedroom making music one day".
Their debut album, Summer's Gone, was released in 2012 to much acclaim in the underground EDM community followed with their first EP, My Friends Never Die. The pair released an extended version of the original album plus three live recordings all featuring a horn section. Not discounting the countless number of festivals and gigs they've played, it's a quick meteoric rise that Harrison Mills is only well aware of.
"It started getting like that when we started getting opening slots for people we grew up loving" he says down the phone. "I think being able to play with your heroes is something that we had always dreamed of being able to do it was on our bucket lists and we got to open for Bonobo and Pretty Lights it was definitely a game changer for us".
The pair are on their way to play Australia and New Zealand. They've come off the North American summer tour trail which has kept them busy pretty much the whole year, had numerous sell out shows across the US culminating in a storming set at Coachella, all which served as a launch pad for a wee mini tour to NZ and a gig at Auckland's iconic rock venue the Kings Arms Tavern. Harrison recalls fond memories of that gig which only happened less than a year ago.
"Actually one of my favourite shows we played, I'm forgetting the name was it the Kings Arms?" he recalls. "It was so sweaty it was probably the only show I've ever played in swim trunks because everyone told us they're like "You've got to prepare yourself because you're going to be super sweaty" So we went up there and the energy from the crowd was phenomenal.
New Zealand seems the most distant place to network or do musical collaborations with, however in this digital age where music can now be digitally delivered anywhere in the world via the internet anything is possible, including collaborations with our own Kiwi artists. "Our music label Foreign Family Collective actually signed someone there" says Mills. "Our first release ever was someone from New Zealand collaborating with someone from India, his name is Troy Samuela and he's actually opening up for us now".
With the recent visit of Australian beat merchants Hermitude, conversation swings to the argument of DJ's being ‘real' musicians. The whole debate around the musical nous of a DJ has been questioned lately with memes galore on social media (tapping the spacebar). So what can elements of Odesza's show can we expect to take the gig to the next level? "We actually have kind of a similar set up" he says. "Unfortunately we can't bring our brass section that we usually play with, we'll have one of us playing live drums on most of the songs we're also live triggering a bunch of beats & songs during the set, so if it's anything like the Kings Arm's gig we're going to have a good time".
Thursday September 24th: San Fran Bath House, Wellington
Friday September 25th: St James Theatre, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketek