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ODESZA performs live at We The Fest 2018
Credit: Rukes Photo

Editorial

Looking back on a decade to remember with the Pacific Northwest’s own ODESZA

Grab your Kleenex, call your therapist: the final chapter of ODESZA is upon us. We are celebrating their fourth and final full-length solo album release with the 10-year anniversary of the project, and there is a lot to celebrate. Recount with us how the full decade of ODESZA has helped shape electronic music into the genre it is today.

Launching the ODESZA project

Hailing from Bellingham, WA, just north of Seattle, Harrison Mills and Clayton make up the ODESZA project. Together, they launched just before graduating from Western Washington University in 2012. Shortly after, they released their debut album: Summer’s Gone. Shortly after their debut album release, they went on tour opening for Pretty Lights, one of their musical influences, before scoring a slot at Sasquatch music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre.

In a 2018 interview with Seattle radio station KEXP, Mills recounted their beginnings:

“I remember working in Clay’s basement on our first record. Then taking a year living with our parents and having them come in the room and say, “Turn that shit off. It’s too loud!” All those times people told us we should get real jobs and us just believing in the music. We never thought it would come to this but we knew we had to believe in ourselves and we would always hate it if we didn’t go for it. And all this stems from us hanging with our best friends in a basement.”

Their beginnings were well worth it: Summer’s Gone ignited their career. With a sound unlike anything else, packed with rhythm and dreamy melodic instrumentals and vocals, that first album delivered a sliver of what ODESZA would grow to be.

Keeping the momentum going: the Olympics, a label, and a destination festival

As they continued to gain recognition for their music, ODESZA went on to release two more full-length studio albums, including full remix albums. They picked up massive accolades along the way, including a nomination for Best Electronic Album at the Grammys for their third album, A Moment Apart. Additionally, both their second and third albums, In Return and A Moment Apart respectively, swept the U.S. Dance Music charts when they were released.

But they were only getting started. Corners of the Earth was selected as the 2018 Winter Olympics anthem for the United States. ODESZA was also featured throughout on several advertisements, including Apple, Nissan, and EA Sports’ FIFA 2018.

During this time, they created their Foreign Family Collective label. This bolstered the careers of other artists like Kasbo, Jai Wolf, and Big Wild, and was even home to RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Bloom album.

ODESZA also pitched their own destination festival in Cancun, Mexico, called Sundara. Although it’s been scheduled to return after its inaugural 2019 success, the pandemic pushed it out indefinitely. But they have promised that it will return.

BRONSON: one of our favorite side projects

After a few years of hiatus following A Moment Apart, the EDM scene all but burst when ODESZA announced a new project: BRONSON. In collaboration with Australian Foreign Family Collective artist Golden Features, their debut album was released late 2020 featuring more house elements and driving beats. It was a widely acclaimed partnership that resulted in a full remix album, and a BBC Radio One Essential Mix: and it goes off.

ODESZA encapsulates the best of electronic music

Throughout their careers, ODESZA has consistently redefined what their project is about. Each sound is uniquely divine, but shares the common roots of extensive instrumentation and creative drive.

One example is their drum line that performs live. It adds an element of energy to their performances that’s tough to beat.

Another essential element to their music is how wide of a catalog they pull from. In 2016, they launched a mix series on SoundCloud called “No Sleep.” If you haven’t listened, you definitely should. Perfect for unwinding, dancing, or just hanging out, the hour-long mix series (now up to 13 installments) is well worth the time.

The final element we’ll include that defines their project: Their PNW roots. Maybe this comes selfishly as residents of the region, but few things make us more proud than EDM artists living out their dreams born out of our corner of the U.S.

They’ve remained involved with the Seattle community since making it big: playing benefit concerts for Western Washington University, and paying homage to their roots in the PNW. In Oregon Music News, Mills described growing up in the Northwest.

“I think a big part of [how our sound is guided by living in the Pacific Northwest] is there’s so much crappy weather that you’re inside a lot and we end up making a lot of music just being stuck at home. Also, the summer here is so nice but it’s so quick and fleeting that you want to take advantage of it and try to capture that good feeling of summer, so you try to do a lot of different stuff—that’s a big piece of it as well.”

We might share the same sentiments about the seemingly endless rainy seasons, but there are few things that make us more proud to be from the PNW than being known as the home for a pioneering electronic music act.

The Last Goodbye

After a storied, highly successful career, it appears that we are entering the final chapter of ODESZA. Whether they will release more music as BRONSON, or another project, only time will tell. As their original project, ODESZA is set to release one aptly-titled final album: The Last Goodbye. Since its announcement early 2022 after a nearly five-year long hiatus from solo releases, the duo will deliver The Last Goodbye on July 22, 2022.

Six singles have been released ahead of the more heavily house-influenced album. Although it seems a small step away from their signature sound, the singles so far perfectly encapsulate what ODESZA is really about: pioneering sound in a beautiful way.

Following the album’s release, the duo will embark on tour with its first stop in Seattle on July 29. The show at the Climate Pledge Arena has been so highly anticipated that it sold out the first two stops entirely during pre-sale, and the third followed suit during general sale.

If you’re looking for a good way to put a cap on a decade instrumental to the Pacific Northwest music industry, and electronic music as a whole, the tour is an excellent way. If you didn’t have a chance to grab tickets (resale through AXS may still be available), we’d recommend paying tribute regardless. Celebrate The Last Goodbye by listening to it in some PNW sunshine this summer.

Although we don’t know what the future holds for the duo, we do know that the last decade hasn’t occurred in a vacuum. Even if The Last Goodbye is their final album, chances are slim to none that ODESZA will be finished entirely. We’ll always have their releases, and the memories attached to them over the past decade and beyond: maybe that’s the most magical part about ODESZA.

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