ODESZA are less than month away from the release of their new album In Return, which finds the Seattle electronic production duo ditching their past sample-based vocals and instead working with the real thing. The results thus far have been impressive, with tracks "Sun Models" featuring Madelyn Grant and "Memories That You Call" alongside Monsoonsiren capturing ODESZA's dreamscape aesthetic and always lush melodies.
Today, Complex premieres their new record "Say My Name." The song features Zyra, whose glittering vocals glide over soaring production from ODESZA, a wonderful connection fans should get used to on their new project. Check out "Say My Name" below, as well as our interview with ODESZA, who talk about the making of In Return and wanting to collab with Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. ODESZA's In Return will be released September 9 through Counter Records and is available for pre-order on their official website.
Interview by Edwin Ortiz (@iTunesEra)
As opposed to the first two releases [Summers Gone and My Friends Never Die], your upcoming album, In Return, finds you guys collaborating with a number of vocalists. What was the reasoning behind taking that approach?
Harrison: I don’t think it was a full blown decision we just made flat out, but for a lot of the tracks we’ve made previously, the only samples we really used were vocals. So we were like, “Why don’t we just cut the middle man and go about making tracks with vocalists?”
We made a bunch of loops, real simple music, and we approached a bunch of different singers. Some worked out well, some did not, and we just kind of built this library of material for In Return. Some of the vocalists, like Zyra, we just met through social media, and sent her a couple tracks. She was really fluid and easy to work with.
I had never heard of Zyra before, but she’s almost like your secret weapon as she’s featured on both “Say My Name” and “It’s Only.” Did you find her on social media, or did someone give you that suggestion?
Harrison: We found her through her singing on a song that she sent it to us privately. It was one of our old songs. We just jumped on it like, “Wow, you are incredibly talented. We should work together.” We sent her some demos of what would turn into “Say My Name” and “It’s Only,” and we made them both really quick. She was someone we worked with really, really well. That’s why she’s on two tracks.
You guys have been able to tell a story through your instrumentals. Whereas now, on In Return, you have vocalists enhancing that story. Did you have that plan in mind?
Harrison: I think it was our first attempt to try and do full-on songwriting. Up to this point we kind of tried to make forward-thinking instrumentals, but it was new for us to try to have verse-chorus, with full lyrics. When approaching this album, we wanted to see if we could make complete songs. It was kind of an experiment, and the more we started doing it the more we learned how we would approach making a song that way.
With you guys having this rigorous tour schedule ahead of you, do you have any immediate plans to work with anybody else afterward?
Harrison: We’ll probably just take some time and really try to focus on our live set and get that dialed in. But there’s a couple things in the works. We’ve been talking to a couple other artists. We’re always up for new collaborations and what not. It’s just a matter of working it into our schedule.
I noticed that nice little exchange you guys had with Kimbra about a month ago.
Could that be a possibility?
Harrison: It’s definitely a possibility. We’ve been talking but nothing at all has been made. We’re just getting to know each other, exchanging music and talking about music. She’s really kind and super talented, and we'd love to work with her in the future if she’s open to it.
What about any hip-hop artists? I know you guys have that in your background as well. Would you guys consider doing songs with rappers, or is that a little left field of what you’re trying to accomplish right now?
Harrison: I think we’d definitely do that. Kendrick [Lamar] is someone we really love. We'll probably never be able to collaborate with someone that huge, but that’s definitely in the realm of things. I think it would be cool to just play around with the idea, just try something out. Because we’ve never really gone down that path, at all.