Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you are a fan if not at least aware of ODESZA. The duo began producing together after meeting at Western Washington University and according to their website bio, they had instant chemistry. They’ve said that combining forces allowed them to “quickly carve out a distinctive, heady sound,” and with new music possibly on the way on April 25th, we thought we’d take a trip way back in time and find out just where these “glitched-out vocals, soaring visceral melodies and ear-gripping drums” started.
Before they were ODESZA, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight were cultivating their own sounds under the names CatacombKid (Harrison) and BeachesBeaches (Clay). Upon listening back and hearing each of their separate production styles from 4+ years ago, we’ve realized that the essential aesthetic behind ODESZA’s music is present yet lacking in both projects.
As a standalone project, CatacombKid embodies a slow and progressive sound categorized by gentle vocal chops and soft soundscapes that can be heard in most of his singles such as “How It Ends”:
A super interesting aspect of CatacombKid is his use of vintage vocal samples, specifically his sampling of Aldous Huxley’s 1956 "Brave New World" radio narration which he uses in the song “Wander”. (sample here)
The production in this song is surprisingly similar to the intro on ODESZA’s debut album, Summer’s Gone, which uses a sample from a 1957 Donald McWhinnie radio broadcast. (sample here)
On the other hand, BeachesBeaches combines lo-fi samples with high energy drums and percussion, creating a fresh melodic take on an old school sound:
It’s incredible how much you can hear ODESZA in each project, yet they both seem so unfinished and raw compared to the sound that they built together. And although funnily enough, both Harrison and Clay took it upon themselves to individually remix The Beach Boys…
…both projects have three main similarities:
- They both heavily use vintage and vinyl samples (break-beats and tape crackle).
- They each have very similar and distinctive vocal chopping methods.
- Both CatacombKid and BeachesBeaches use euphoric and atmospheric sounds throughout their songs.
Watching ODESZA develop into the immense musical presence they’ve become has been an absolute treat. Although their sound has been constantly evolving and improving over the past few years, all three of the aforementioned similarities provide the backbone to ODESZA’s signature production style and can be heard throughout the entirety of their discography:
From their 2012 debut album Summer’s Gone.
From their 2013 EP My Friends Never Die.
From their 2014 album In Return.
As we patiently await more news, we can only hope that new music from the duo we’ve grown to love is on the way! Until then, here's 22 ODESZA songs to hold you over. Enjoy!