Splendour Interview: Odette (AUS) on her SITG debut, poetry and James Blake

Odette is an ephemeral angel, quite frankly. Both in performance and in person. Her debut Splendour performance was just that, with transcending lighting states and dance moves that sent the crowd to another planet.

Currently on-site at Splendour, The AU Review chatted to her ahead of her set to see how those debut-nerves are doing.

Odette and I, we’re eating musk sticks.

Yum.

Where’d you get these from?

Literally the music tent over there, they had them in a jar, and I was just like, “Hell yeah.” I’m going to steal some more after this.

Wise. What are you drinking right now?

Ginger ale.

I mean, it’s the perfect time of day for a ginger ale? Welcome to Splendour, how you feeling Odette?

A lot. A lot.

This is your Splendour debut, right?

Yes. And I’m very nervous, but I think they said I kept it together pretty well, but I’m honestly shaking in my boots. It’s like the most intense thing to ever happen to me, and every time I just look around I’m just like …

Pinch yourself that you’re here. This would be a bucket list sort of thing, right?

Yeah. It’s like… Honestly I’ve dreamt of this since I went to my first one, this is before I knew… I just knew that this is where I wanted to play, and I can’t freaking believe I’m playing in three hours, it’s freaking me out.

That’s amazing, I’m super looking forward to your set. And from here on in you’re just going to be invited back and get like bigger and better sets. Like you’re going to get a nighttime set, then you’re going to headline.

Oh my God, if I play in the dark? Crazy!

Do you have anything extra special planned for this set?

Yes.

Okay. I can’t wait to see it! Talking about extra special things, and your past sets, you’ve just come off the back of an Australian tour earlier this year. How was that?

That was amazing. It was really nice to kind of just get to all… I mean, I did a tour last year, which was kind of smaller scale, it was just like Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. And this one was like, you know… I got to go to Perth, got to see some family there, which was nice. It’s just been really good to branch out and kind of visit other regions of Australia, it’s been freaking’ excellent.

It would be pretty wild to see your fan base in places like Perth and places where you’re like “… wow, I reach.”

Yeah. I’m just like, “You know my song? What!” Yeah.

Is there a particular highlight or like a memory that will stick with you from the tour?

No… I’m kidding. No, literally when… So when I did the Melbourne shows, we did them at The Corner. Triple J did the… What do they call it, The live one? Live At The Wireless! And once I said… It was just that moment of… Because I haven’t told the crowd that we were on Live At The Wireless. And I think I went through maybe the first song and then I broke it, I was like, “Hey guys. We’re on Live At The Wireless!” And they were just like, “…” and I was like, “…”

That’s insane, because I’ve listened back to sets that I’ve gone to that had been at Live At The Wireless, and just reliving those and being in that audience is super extra special as a fan. So I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be the artist and hearing it back on Triple J, and something so like… Again, another bucket list, particularly for like Australian artists, right?

It was good. I was expecting myself to be under more pressure by myself once I knew that it was live, but as soon as I just kind of was like, “Oh my God, I’m here.” As soon as I get out there I’m just like, “Oh my God, there’s someone who knows the words.” And I just usually sing to them and I’m like, “Yes” and it’s so good it just puts me at ease.

Last time we spoke you said you wanted to collaborate with a couple of artists, Oh Pep! and Jack River, have they happened yet?

No, not yet, still waiting. But also Oh Pep! are based in Melbourne, I believe. Are they? Or are they Sydney? I think they are Melbourne, but if they’re Sydney I’m going to hit them up. We’ve met up a few times, I actually got to hang out with them when we were both in Texas for-

South by Southwest?

SXSW. And it was honestly the best. Like, I got to see their show. Angie and I… Angie McMahon and I were dancing, and it was the first time I properly met her, so we were just like… Yeah.

That sounds amazing though, that’s so wild to meet them over in Texas for the first time.

Yeah. It was crazy, it was insane.

So is there any other dream collabs that we can manifest while we’re here?

Anyone in the entire universe?

Okay, just anyone.

Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Who’s that?

He is a really amazing pianist, and I’ve loved him since I was in early high school. My dad used to play him all the time. And I just think he is the bee’s knees.

Amazing. That sounds dreamy, I have to check him out. And talking about you back in high school, your early days, take me back to early Odette days. Because sonically and lyrically you’re very mature, your lyrics are very well thought out. 

I imagine you would’ve studied poetry or something, because you’ve got a lot of spoken word-based songs. And then even just vocally, your voice is so well toned, is that all natural? Did you have a lot of training back in the early days before you hit the big time? Like what’s early Odette days?

Early Odette days? All right, so I started writing at eight. I always loved poetry since I was young, I just loved words that rhyme, I was like, “This is hectic, words rhyme? Insane!” And I don’t know, I guess when I got to high school and we started studying like, Tennyson and all that kind of stuff, I realised that there was so many more complex ways of talking and writing poetry…

I guess, I don’t know, I used to write a little of it, and I always had a pretty basic understanding of prose and stuff, but once I was like… I really, really, really liked when… I can’t even remember the smart words for this post-modern poetry, which was just like, fuck form. Fuck it all, let’s do just like extreme consciousness. As soon as…

That was kind of what “Watch Me Read You” was, because I wrote that when I was like 17, which was around the time I was learning all of that, and… Or 18? And it was just like… It was nice to have that freedom of just saying, this is exactly what I want to say in the moment, I’m not worrying about, you know-

Structure, or?

Yeah. I’m not worrying about any of that. And in a way it kind of had its own structure, but… And I guess after I took away all the limitations for myself, it was just like, “… I can just do whatever I want?”

That’s liberating, because for me artistically I always put shackles on. Like I always have to have parameters, and I can’t go outside of them. So to be like, “You know what? Like, fuck it.”

Because honestly, the first time I wrote something really wonderful that I love, which was “Watch Me Read You”. And then the second time I wrote a terrible song, I did not release it. Disgusting and ugly, I hated her, but what I taught me was that things aren’t always going to be amazing. And also, that I have to keep writing regardless of whether or not I like the song or not, because you got to get all that out of the way. It’s almost like when you unclog a toilet.

Yeah. You got to get all that shit off the top.

All that shit off the top!

And then you got the beautiful clean bowl at the bottom.

And then you have this beautiful porcelain moment.

Okay, Splendour. Who are you most excited to see play?

James Blake.

Yes! Make that collab happen!

Oh my God, if he collabs with me I’d probably just die.  I’d have peaked, I have to wait until I’m like 70.

No way! Make it happen now. Make a “Retrograde” revamp, like featuring Odette.

Odettro-grade.

We heard it here first. I’m like… I love puns! That’s amazing. All right. Let’s wrap this up. Odette, I have one final question for you, and it’s like very super serious, I don’t ask this question lightly.

I know it’s going to be a joke.

No, it’s not. It’s like super serious.
Can we be best friends?

Yes, we can be best friends. It’s done.

It’s done.

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