︎ ODETTE INTERVIEW:
NEW ALBUM, TAKE IT TO THE HEART & MYTHICAL CREATURES
After a weekend getaway in Brighton to The Great Escape stage, Cortex sat down with Australian singer-songwriter, ODETTE. Before she embarks on her first national tour in Australia later this summer, we talked about her career, writing process and mythical creatures.
Spoiler alert: recently released single Take It To The Heart will be featured in her next album To A Stranger, set to drop this coming July.
So, who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself, your story, anything outside of your career which will help the readers understand who you are as a person.
I'm like an old lady, kind of *laughs*. Yeah, I don't know, its kind of a broad question and a deep one too. Do I even know? Probably not. I think that's the whole reason I write, is to kind of figure it out. But I guess I would just say I'm a bit of a homebody. I spent most of my time writing pretty much, doesn't matter where I am and if I'm traveling I'm mostly writing.
Tell us a bit about your writing process.
I don't really have one. I literally just zone out and then there's a song and then I kind of just have to be like, well, what did I write that about? Is that something subconscious? Is this something I should be taking note of? But, I guess usually I write at home and I've got this like old piano that I've had since I was a kid. I wrote my first song on it, it's really dinky and is so out of tune, but I'm not going to ever part with it. It's my favourite.
Are you ever going to fix it?
I mean I want to, it's just expensive. And I also haven't found anyone who tunes pianos, I need to look it up. But yeah, I guess when I write my songs, I always try and give myself as much time as possible. It has to be when I'm just kind of relax and I don't have anything to do. I’ll just write song after song after song and I'll just get like completely consumed in my world. By the end I'm just like, I'm not writing a song for a few days because that was a lot. That’s kind of my process. It changes though. I think with most artists it's hard to have one set process of writing, unless you are just like a really diligent worker. So mine changes all the time. I can be walking down the street, I could be in a shop or something and I'll just take a little note on my phone.
Tell us a bit about your career. Did you have a key moment that inspired you to pursue music?
Christ. I actually remember it. Missy Higgins put out The Sound Of White. I think I was eight or nine years old and I was floored. I was like, "Oh my god, she's just playing piano and singing about her feelings, I want to do that". There were other artists that I was listening to at the time who were doing not a similar thing but kind of, just like singer-songwriters. And my mum got me piano lessons and I hated it. Could not read music, still cannot read music, stressful. But yeah, my teacher was just like, go home, get your own piano, start writing on your own. I think from there I just fell in love with it.
Do you have any other musical inspirations?
Probably Joanna Newsom. I'm obsessed with her. I literally would join a cult about her. I'm not even joking.
Why is that?
I don't know, I would just do it. She's just amazing. She's just one of those artists who has such like an expansive universe. Do you know what I mean? There's no kind of set image for her. She's just writing and writing and all her concepts are so complex. She really researches what she's singing and writing about.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I've tried. I literally don't know. I really don’t know because all I'm doing is writing and I've never really put much thought into what I want to look like when I'm writing. I don't know if I want my writing to have this one sound. I don't think I have one set sound. I think the motif of me and who I am as an artist is just that I'll always be writing and oversharing and talking about my feelings. But I think it transcends genre, I guess because it's like one day you’ll be really happy and you'll write something up-beat the next day you'll be writing something really different with different incorporations into it. It's kind of this fluid experience of just not having a set style I guess.
So you wouldn't say you had like a specific genre that stick to your style?
No, but a few other people have kind of described it as like indie-pop or alternative-pop or something, something, something. So I don't think other people know either. But it's fun to watch people kind of give it a little title because I'm like, okay, I guess that's it. I guess that's also it. I don't know.
When people listen to your music, do you want them to feel a certain way?
When people listen to my music, I don't really want them to feel any specific way. I want them to just feel in general, I think it's because I'm talking about stuff that's really personal. I kind of think it's important to have that dialogue of like, this is happening to me and this is everything that I'm feeling and yeah. I think I want people to maybe talk more about their experiences with that close circle of friends or something. I don't know. But yeah, it's been really lovely actually getting messages from people being like, "I really resonated with this song" or you know, "this reminded me of this" and blah blah blah. But I think if an artist can create a song that resonates with someone about their own personal experiences, I think that is kind of the whole reason why I do this. It’s this almost universal language where you can reach other people, even a melody. Even if someone doesn't speak English, I can still hear this song and feel something and I think that's a really powerful thing. So yeah, that was definitely one of the main reasons that I write music.
Can you say you share personal stories and experiences? If yes, is that something that empowers you? Does that help you to trudge through anything that you're going through?
Definitely. I think silence is one of the deadliest things ever. I think if you're going through something and you’re just keeping it to yourself and you're not saying anything, just trying to persevere like power to that person, but it's difficult. So I need to be talking all the time, like all my close friends, I'm always calling them up and over-sharing my life story. But that's alright. They also do the same, I definitely think it's definitely empowering for me because some of these things are about other people and had been very silencing experiences for me, so being able to speak about it, not in a necessarily very direct way, but in a very kind of broad way is really therapeutic and cathartic.
So what's next for you? What's your next project? What's the next goal?
Well, we just put out our most recent single, Take It To The Heart and I've got an album coming, there's an album and it's coming in July. Then I'm touring in August. Gosh, there’s actually a lot happening. I'm touring with The Cat Empire, that’s in October, I believe. There's a lot happening so I'll be doing a lot of shows this year towards the end of the year. Apart from that, just plan to keep writing.
What were the responses like for Take It To The Heart?
It was great. I was like, it's a lot more upbeat than the first two I've put out, so it's a bit nervous to see how people would kind of receive it, but it's been received really well so far. I've heard nice things from people, so I think it's doing alright.
And in terms of the long term, are there any bigger goals?
Oh yeah, I'm very ambitious person. I'm always kind of daydreaming about what could happen in the future.
Is there anything that you’d really like to happen at some point?
I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think I have a set goal. I just kind of, I'm really excited to keep doing what I'm doing and see where it takes me and see how hard I can work I guess because I don't know, but yeah, it's cool. I do want to go to Greenland. Or Iceland and play there just because I think it would be amazing and I've always been obsessed with those countries for some odd reason. I don't know how, but I read this story of this mythological wolf children in Greenland and I was just hooked. I was like, hell yeah, we're going to go to Greenland and party with this mythical creature. I want to see the mythical creatures, yeah. I want to go into a forest and sing and then like be comforted by mythical creatures. That's my idea of Greenland.
Interviewed & written by NOUR HASSAINE
Shot by ISHA SHAH