Born in England and raised in Sydney’s inner west, singer-songwriter Odette has grown up with an eclectic musical palette. She was introduced to African music, soul, funk, and rhythm at an early age by her South African mother, while her jazz pianist father shared his extensive knowledge of new wave and jazz. We caught up with Odette to discuss her approach to music, her debut single ‘Watch Me Read You’, and what we can expect from her upcoming album…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Well I started writing when I was very young. I wrote a few songs and realised I loved it and have just kept writing ever since. There were always a lot of books in the house so I would pick out the ones I thought were interesting and read them. They always ended up being compilations of poetry. My Dad ended up giving me this Keats book that he had and it still remains to be one of my favourite books. My mum was always playing music in the house. I grew up in a very creative household which really kind of nurtured all of my passions for writing and singing and eventually playing piano.
‘Watch Me Read You’ is absolutely stunning. Talk us through the single and theme, and what inspired it.
I wrote ‘Watch Me Read You’ when I was over in England in 2015. It was a pretty dark year for me personally so it was a very fragmented song that took all my experiences and merged them into one track. It’s a very fractured view of my experiences, it’s very distant.
Songs can take on their own life in the studio. How does the finished track correspond to the initial ideas you had when crafting it?
I write all my songs on piano so they are always so much more raw when I’m writing it. This can be both good and bad I guess, but when I go into the studio and begin to work with other elements it begins to take on this whole new tone, all the feelings I’m trying to communicate in the track I can portray not only through lyrics and piano, but other production elements and other sounds. It’s quite exciting to bring a new song into the studio because I never know what I’m going to end up with.
Did you have a certain vision for the music video before working with Josh Harris?
Not really. I knew that it had to be a compilation of fragmented imagery, of different places but that’s about it. We’d spoken over the phone a few times and I had told him about the emotion behind the words, he kind of just took what I’d said and ran with it. It was a brilliant take on the track.
What kind of sound can we expect from your new album?
There are definitely moments like ‘Watch Me Read You’ that incorporate spoken word but this album is so much more than that as well. There are string moments, big production moments and then songs that are just piano and vocal. It’s a big snapshot of the last few years for me. It’s very honest, it’s very emotional.
What was it like working with Charlie Hugall and Damian Taylor on the record?
It was wonderful to write with Charlie back in 2015. He really helped formulate my ideas and refine what I was trying to achieve. Working on the project as a whole with Damian has truly been a wonderful experience. It’s given me the opportunity to learn so much and he’s actually a genius so that always helps.
When you’re not making music, how do you like to spend your time?
I’m usually with my friends, I spend a lot of time outdoors exploring and I’m always constantly listening to music… like, all the time.
Which Australian artists would you recommend UK fans of yours to listen to?
Hmmm, well there are heaps of talented artists here. I’d personally recommend artists like Vera Blue for that contemporary pop feel, Ziggy Ramo for some feel good hip hop and funk. Also Lanks is really awesome as well! There’s so much more I could dive into though, I’d be writing for days.
Tell us one song that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up…
‘Time As A Symptom’ by Joanna Newsom
And one thing about you that fans may not already know?
Ummm… I can speak backwards fluently.
Thanks so much Odette! You can watch Odette’s video for ‘Watch Me Read You’ below.
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