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Odesza Builds A Musical ‘Family’ Through Collaboration And Discovery

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Photo: Odesza

Odesza often invites guest singers on their music, as do many electronic bands.

But this group likes to feature undiscovered talent. Like the British artist Zyra, who sent the Seattle duo a YouTube video of her singing over one of their songs. They liked it so much, they invited her to sing on more.

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Odesza member Harrison Mills says they also find singers by browsing social media websites like SoundCloud.

"We were finding a lot of talent on there," Mills says. "Through finding those people and playing shows, we also met people locally."

Mills and his music partner Clayton Knight released their first album in 2012. Two years later, they released “In Return” -- which features two songs with Zyra as well as Seattle artists like Briana Marela and Jenni Potts.

Odesza now sells out outdoor amphitheatres and headlines music festivals around the world, like this year’s Vertex Festival in Buena Vista, Colo. The duo brought a midnight light show and the University of Colorado drum line to play for thousands of campers in the Rocky Mountains.

But even with their success and popularity, Clayton Knight still likes the idea of finding new talent. And he says there is a big advantage in doing so.

"There’s a little more hunger working with unknown artists. They’re usually more open to writing ideas, really creating something different. As where a big artist, they may not be open to experimenting with things to the extent someone unknown might be."

This passion for finding new talent led Mills and Knight to launch the Foreign Family label. Since last year they’ve released music by some of their favorite discoveries from around the world like the Australian trio Rufus Du Sol and New York City's Jai Wolf.

And Harrison Mills says the Foreign Family label is not just about releasing music. He and Knight act as mentors for these artists so they can have successful music careers.

"A lot of it is even just helping them with small things like building a show. When we started we really just were thrown into it. We didn't know what we were doing at all. I think it’s nice to have someone who can show you the ropes a little bit."

Mills and Knight are constantly on the lookout for new artists and collaborators for their Foreign Family label. So if you’re an undiscovered musician, they might want you next.

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