Interview: Harrison Mills of ODESZA talks about the success of the electronic act and life on the road

ODESZA play at the Blue Moose Tap House Feb 25 -- photo by Tonje Thilesen
ODESZA, made up of Harrison Mills (left) and Clay Night (right), perform tonight at the Blue Moose Tap House — photo by Tonje Thilesen


Blue Moose Tap House — Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 9 p.m.

Electronic duo ODESZA are set to play tonight at the Blue Moose Tap House at 9 p.m. (update: the show has since sold out). Since Harrison Mills and Clay Knight met and started making music together at Seattle’s Western Washington University back in 2012, they’ve stayed incredibly busy. They just wrapped up a European tour, their remix of Pretty Lights’ “Lost and Found” was featured on the Divergent soundtrack, and their most recent record, In Return, debuted at number one on the Billboard Electronic chart. Mills (a.k.a. CatacombKid) took the time to talk to Little Village about ODESZA’s recent success.

Little Village: You guys really blew up early on, and got a lot of recognition on the internet from different blogs and from HypeMachine, but when did you feel like you’d really made it in the electronic music world?

Harrison Mills: Honestly, I sometimes don’t really know how to think about that kind of stuff. It’s kind of all a big blur most of the time. We’re in transit so much and we’re always kind of keeping our heads down and making tunes. It feels like kind of a fleeting moment everytime you’re on stage. I definitely think there are certain moments that are like bucket list things that have happened to us, and I feel really accomplished with a lot of the stuff that we’ve done, but I don’t know. I definitely don’t know about the whole, “made it,” thing. I definitely feel honored that I get to make music for a living. I think as soon as we made a paycheck I was happy. (laughs) I got to keep making music, which is great.

You’ve been touring constantly for almost two years now, and according to your current tour schedule, you aren’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. What’s it like being on the road all the time, jumping not just from one state to another, but traveling overseas and visiting different countries all the time?

It takes a lot of energy to travel that much, and to basically throw a show every night. I get to go all around the world and see awesome locations, and go places I never would have gone otherwise. Me and Clay both had never gone anywhere else but Canada outside the States before we started touring, so it’s definitely a pretty amazing experience overall just to be able to experience all these different countries and cultures.

Anything you’ve checked off the bucket list recently?

I think being able to play Holy Ship! was a really big moment. Also, being able to play a show at Red Rocks (CO). Those two things are enormous for us. Holy Ship! was very important because, well, the year before, we were like, “This is every artist we like in one place, hanging out together.” We were incredibly jealous that we couldn’t be a part of it. It was an amazing experience this year, and one of the most fun times we’ve ever had.

For Red Rocks, it’s just kind of an infamous venue. It’s a beautiful location, and my family is from Denver, so it was probably the coolest thing I could have told my parents. (laughs) Also just somewhere I’ve always just dreamed of playing.

Who are you listening to right now?

Honestly most of the time we’re just scouring SoundCloud for people that are unheard of. I think it’s much more interesting to hear a 14 year old kid from Czechoslovakia, and see what he’s working on. A lot of times, the stuff I’m most interested in are the people that have no musical background whatsoever, just trying to attempt electronic music, or any music from any genre. It’s about hearing an untrained ear trying to express their self. It’s really interesting.

So you’re into making your live shows really engaging and exciting for your audiences, and you’re all about doing everything live.

Right now we’re actually remaking our set from the ground up to a point where — we’re obviously going to be playing a lot of new stuff because we only play our stuff live — but we’re trying to incorporate some more drums in a few things. Something we like to do is keep it really percussive, and kind of tribal-like to get people dancing. We’re trying to maybe bring in some more live drums as well as our electronic stuff and triggering pieces. It’s always evolving. That’s something we really care about, so we put a lot of thought and focus into it.

You’re touring with Little People and Big Wild. How’d you guys meet up and decide to work together?

Our first tour, pretty much ever, was with Little People and Emancipator. We became really close to Little People, as well as Emancipator, so it’s amazing that we get to go on the road with [Little People] again. We’ve been a fan of his music for a long time. Big Wild is someone who we actually found out about through SoundCloud. We fell in love with his sound, and over time got to know him. We felt honored that he would want to go on the road with us, so it just turned into this cool collaboration.

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