ODESZA: Living in the moment

Jan 24, 2018 - Artist Stories

“We’re about to walk out and try a bunch of new things we’ve never tried before.” ODESZA's Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight reflect in Episode 1 of “A Moment Apart Tour.” "You put this much work into rehearsals and visuals and people and time — there's no going back. And if it fails, it fails in front of everyone. So hopefully the crowd reacts.“

Spoiler alert: The crowd reacts — and then some.

Uploaded over the last four months, the series invites fans to join the Seattle-based electronic duo of Mills and Knight as they embark on the North American leg of their most ambitious outing to date. It’s a raw and honest glimpse into the daily life and creative process of the band, who for the past four years have treated their subscribers to a steady stream of tour diaries, live clips, and intimate behind-the-scenes videos capturing their impressive journey to the top of the electronic music world.

“Video is such a great way of getting music out there,” explains Sean Kusanagi, ODESZA's longtime creative director and frequent touring band member. “When we were just kids in a basement, making stuff and putting it up, not having any expectation, it became such a great platform for us to share our vision and get a response immediately from fans.”

Formed in 2012, while still students at Western Washington University, ODESZA has quickly emerged as one of electronic music’s most exciting recent success stories. Across YouTube, the group has amassed over 500 million views to date, with early uploads from the duo and their fans going viral before they had even performed live. In the years since, the Artist on the Rise alum have amassed an increasingly rabid fanbase, selling out multiple nights in cities across the globe while regularly surpassing the million views mark on their videos.

But it is their latest release — 2017’s “A Moment Apart”that has arguably cemented their place amongst the electronic elite. Debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, the release recently earned the duo a pair of Grammy nods.

“We were definitely surprised,” Mills tells YouTube of the nominations. “We weren’t expecting it at all. I woke up to like 30 missed calls. It’s extremely exciting.”

Throughout their rise, one consistent — and arguable differentiator — for the duo has been a commitment to a visual element. ODESZA currently employs a three-person team dedicated to their video work, with additional photographers and videographers brought on board for various projects.

“You need a team you can trust a lot,” Mills explains. “We want to do it well.”

“With that comes authenticity,” adds Kusanagi. “In today’s world, especially in the YouTube community, you can see right through what’s forced, and you can tell what feels really natural. That’s always really important to us.”

The results of the efforts can be seen in ODESZA's extensive video catalog, pairing their textured and emotional productions with equally compelling visual treatments. The video for the Grammy-nominated “Line of Sight” is a sci-fi coming-of-age story, while the clip for “All We Need,” off 2014’s “In Return,” depicts the downward spiral of drug addiction in powerful detail. And the rich visual treatment goes well beyond the traditional music video, with the group frequently capturing their live sets — twice now in 360 — to share with new and old fans alike.

“It’s been extremely important” Mills explains on their prolific uploads. “It has allowed songs to spread a lot further than they would have.“

But in the midst of all the cinematic music videos and immersive live performances, some of the most fascinating clips from ODESZA are the moments where they’re simply in the studio, writing and recording, alone and with collaborators and friends such as Leon Bridges. “We started realizing, the more we film the more we’re going to keep capturing,” Mills tells YouTube. “Those moments are better not premeditated.”

And it is in this intimate footage — clips of rehearsals, tour-bus downtime, and Mills and Knight plotting out their live show on a whiteboard  — that fans get to really know the band. “It all comes back to connections, and most importantly connections to fans,” the duo explains in “A Moment Apart Tour.” “They’ve had our backs from the beginning. Seeing how much they care about the project — it is just something very special.”