Odesza is a fresh breath of electronic air

Harrison Mills (aka CatacombKid), left,  and Clayton Knight (aka BeachesBeaches) are Odesza. (Courtesy photo)
Harrison Mills (aka CatacombKid), left, and Clayton Knight (aka BeachesBeaches) are Odesza. (Courtesy photo)

By Sean Kelly

In the current world of electronic music, Odesza is a breath of fresh air.

The duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight opted to stray from the sound of the typical headbanging, drop-centric style that has become so prevalent in EDM.

After meeting in college at Western Washington University, Mills and Knight started creating beats, but Mills said they never set out to make any type of music in particular. Because of this, Mills said the duo takes great pride in how difficult it is to categorize Odesza into a specific music genre.

Odesza’s ambient pop, with a hip-hop backbone, has swept the nation and abroad. The duo has released multiple albums and have played festivals in their home state of Washington, like Sasquatch, to Australia.

We talked with Mills leading up to Odesza’s back-to-back weekend sold-out shows at the Boulder Theater. (Odesza will also perform a DJ set at the Fox Theatre on the Hill after midnight on Saturday, which is also sold out.) Mills told us about what makes Odesza stand above the sometimes over-saturated music genre.

What would you say is the biggest innovation you brought to the electronic music scene?

We tried to make music that was tasteful. We took from things that other people liked, and maybe pieces of things that were trending. We didn’t do that in a cheeky way or a trying to be a part of a trend. I think we have always just taken pieces of sound [that we liked because] they’re either beautiful or melodic. …

I don’t think we’ve ever gone into a song thinking we’re gonna make a trap song now because trap is cool and loud. We’re gonna be like, “I love the 808 subs in trap music, so let’s make something heavier.” But we don’t have to make it just noise.

Who were your biggest inspirations and what did you listen to growing up?

I think there are a lot of people we really like, but I would say some of the big ones for me were Animal Collective, the Gorillaz and Radiohead. … I was shown a lot of music [growing up]. My parents listened to a wide variety of music. They listened to old-school funk, like James Brown and stuff. A lot of ’80s music. A lot of folk music — they really like folk music. My mom listened to classical music constantly. Classic rock, obviously, my dad was a big classic-rock guy. So there was a lot of stuff that I got exposed to, which was really nice.

Would you say listening to so many different types of music growing up helped you with what you do now because you guys experiment with so many different sounds?

I think that the biggest thing we have going for us is the fact that we love so many different styles of music. We are kind of in this world of production of genre-less blending of sounds. We can take from so many different styles and try to create something at the focal point.

What inspired you to get involved in the electronic music scene?

I don’t know if it was by choice, but we were listening to a lot of that music. By trade, a lot of is technically electronic. We love music for music and like so much different kind of stuff. I don’t know if that categorizes us as electronic, but I guess you have to. … All we knew was that we were gonna try to make some weird music together.

If you go

What: Odesza

When: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder

Where: 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, and 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22

Cost: Both shows are sold out

More info: bouldertheater.com

After party

Odesza will perform a DJ set, No Sleep After Party, Saturday at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, which is also sold out.

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