1883 Magazine

Despite being only 19 years old Odette is a sweet, smart and bad ass woman to look out for. The singer-songwriter’s music is an intoxicating blend of soul, jazz, pop and spoken word, influenced in part by her South African mother, English father and Australian upbringing.

We were able to chat about her two new singles ‘Collide’ and ‘Watch Me Read You’, her experiences in the music industry so far and what she’s got planned for 2018.

Can you tell me about the inspiration behind your song ‘Collide’?

I wrote ‘Collide’ at the same time as ‘Watch Me Read You’ in 2015. I wrote it in England, the night before a session. At the time I was seeing this really horrible disgusting person and it was one of those situations which are really convoluted and difficult to read. So ‘Collide’ was about a yearning for a connection with someone and wanting something that you can’t have… realising that you’re in a situation that’s not healthy.

Have you found writing about your experience healing?

It was quite therapeutic because the situation I was in was quite silencing. Writing ‘Collide’ was empowering because I was talking about it and now that I’ve released it, it’s that final like “You can’t have any hold over me, I’ve put this whole story song out to the world”. It is really, really cathartic. I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me and say they related to the song. I’ve had some really nice chats with people about it. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about song writing and putting music out there, you just don’t know how it’s going to connect with the audience.

I’m a big fan of your use of spoken word in ‘Watch Me Read You’. What influenced that choice?

I’ve always been into writing poetry and it was probably about 4 years ago that I wrote my first spoken word song. I realised that I like songs, I like poetry, why not mix the two together? Like what’s stopping me? So, I wrote a song called ‘Lotus Eaters’ which is on the upcoming album. ‘Watch Me Read You’ is a very voyeuristic view of all my experiences. I was really inspired by John Keats because I love that romanticised view of everything. Though I’ve been veering away from that recently in my writing and finding a more graphic and to the point way of explaining my experiences. I got into this poet called Walt Whitman last year and I really clicked with his work. I resonate with the way that he writes a lot; listing of things, viewing the world in fragments.

When did you start song writing?

I think I was about 7 or 8 years old and I just kept doing it. I started performing in school assemblies and I would volunteer. I was such a loser, putting my hand up in assembly like “Hey I wrote a song! Can I play it?”. That’s kind of how I got started.

What sort of things did you write about at that age?

The first song I wrote was called ‘Best Friends’ and then after that everything was morbid and really convoluted. The second song was called ‘I Walk Alone’ and the other song I wrote was called ‘Sincerely Yours, Margaret’. It was a letter from a woman called Margaret who lives in space to her friend who she had to leave behind on Earth. I don’t know, it was odd. People at the time seemed to think I was a little bit nuts.

What kind of music did you grow up with?

There was always music playing in the house. My mum introduced me to South African music because she’s South African. She’d play Angélique Kidjo and Miriam Makeba, all kinds of cool stuff like that. My dad is just a huge Londoner, like back in the punk days, he introduced me to The Clash and Billy Bragg. I listened to a lot of music all the time. I didn’t really have one type of influence growing up, I just had so many influences and it was up to me to figure out how I wanted to create my own music.

Can you tell me your new album coming out in 2018?

Well it’s not all spoken word… a lot of my writing is just me and a piano. It’s quite an eclectic palette of different feelings I guess. It’s all very honest, very emotional, drawing from my own experiences. I’m just excited to show everyone what I’ve been working on. It pretty much just sums up the last couple of years for me.

How was it working with Damien Taylor as your music producer?

Damien’s great, he doesn’t come into a studio session or a meeting and have his own agenda. That’s what really drew me into working with him. He said to me “Tell me everything about you, tell me your world, what are you? What’s Odette?”. We had long chats and I ended up writing this blog and he saw it. He was really involved in the project and I really appreciated it because he was all about creating what I wanted to create. That’s what makes him a brilliant producer.

Who else have you enjoyed working with recently?

It was ages ago but one of the songs on this upcoming album is called ‘Lights Out’ and I wrote it with an Australian producer called Alex Hope and co-wrote it with Sarah Aarons and it was just a great session. Everyone was really involved, it was just such an amazing experience, I loved it.

One final question... what are you excited for in 2018?

Musically, it’s definitely releasing the album. I’m proud of it. It’s my baby. I’m very, very excited to put it out there in the world. I’m also excited for my tour. Personally, I just want to keep writing. I guess my head’s always in this writing mode. I think I’m going to start writing more collections of work, not necessarily music. I’m excited to just see what experiences I have and what I can write about andreate.

Odette’s headline tour starts at the Gasometer in Fitzroy, Australia on the 16th of February 2018. For more information check out www.odettesodyssey.com and www.facebook.com/odettesodyssey

Interview Sam Stone

Photography Anna Urik 

Hair and make up Nohelia Reyes

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