Seattle is best-known in the music world for indie-rock and grunge—but the latest big thing to come out of the city is an electronic-music duo.
Odesza will be headlining the June edition of Splash House, a pool party and EDM event taking place Friday through Sunday, June 10-12, at the Riviera and the Saguaro in Palm Springs. Nighttime parties will take place at the Palm Springs Air Museum.
Odesza—named after a sunken vessel that belonged to Harrison Mills’ uncle—popped up in 2012 after Mills met Clayton Knight while in college at Western Washington University. The duo started releasing material via SoundCloud—and it wasn’t long before they achieved 1 million plays. Odesza earned a 2016 Grammy nomination, for Best Remixed Recording, for “Say My Name (RAC Mix)” featuring Zyra.
During a recent phone interview, Harrison Mills (aka Catacombkid), discussed what has influenced Odesza.
“(Clayton Knight, aka BeachesBeaches) and I grew up with a lot of different influences,” Mills said. “To be honest, it was a melting pot of a bunch of different genres and styles of music. We ask ourselves, ‘How can we make things that shouldn’t work actually work together and in harmony?’ We try to find exotic sounds and try to make them familiar. That kind of stuff catches our ear a lot. We really go in and dive into moments in music and emphasize little pieces of it. I think that’s the culture we came from and where we started. But it’s hard, because there’s a large palette of different tastes.”
In electronic music, there is a lot of collaboration between bands/singers and electronic-music producers—and Mills said that can lead to challenges.
“I think the hardest part can be when you think of an idea and set a tone for someone’s voice, and that person decides to take a completely different route, and you try to explain, ‘Well, this is what I was thinking,’” he said. “Sometimes, though, it can really work out in a way where they create something you never expected, and (you) rework your version of the song to match what they did in a better way.”
Like all music genres, electronic music is evolving—but in some ways, electronic music is changing faster than other forms of music have in the past.
“I think you have to change a lot if the whole foundation of the music you’re making started because of a trend,” he said. “I think you (need to) start very genuine in what you make, and build a fan base that’s open to hearing your sound evolve and naturally grow. That’s what we shoot for—not diverting from what makes us stand out and what makes us unique, but just evolving with what feels like mature steps in the right direction.”
Before making it big in the electronic-music world, Odesza faced a challenge all new artists face: getting people to collaborate. Sometimes, scheduling can be a challenge, too, as was the case with Odesza’s “All We Need,” featuring Shy Girls.
“People we’ve reached out to over the years are people we knew we could actually work with. We never really tried to hit above the belt,” Mills said. “It was really hard for us to get Shy Girls, because he was touring at the time, and we ended up waiting a year to get him on the phone, because we really felt he was a fit for that track.”
Odesza owes much of its fame to SoundCloud. The platform rose to popularity as an outlet for independent electronic-music figures to release remixes and music. However, copyright concerns finally caught up with SoundCloud—and the platform is now dying a slow death.
“I think it’s a tough transitional period. I feel like there’s always something that will pop up in its place after everyone uses something, and it’s gone,” Mills said. “I’m not really worried about it. It’s a tough spot to have this great platform where people could just upload something, and a bunch of people would listen to it. … I think it might be a little bit before we get there, but I’m sure there’s something else coming.”
Since the release of studio album In Return in 2014, Odesza has been busy touring—until recently, when Mills and Knight finally had a period to rest and come up with new ideas for the next album.
“In general, it’s been really good,” Mills said about the touring. “We’ve been really lucky with audiences we’ve been getting. Sometimes it can be kind of rough coming from a foreign place and adjusting to all the changes. We just came back from Australia. It took me, like, four days of shows to be back in it, dealing with being (17 hours) forward there. We keep a close team around us and people we really believe in, and that helps keep us grounded.”
Splash House’s June edition takes place Friday, June 10, through Sunday, June 12. General admission passes are $120. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.