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Latest ReleaseView All
The Last Goodbye
Release date: 7.22.22
Label: Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune
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After more than 10 years, three studio albums, two Grammy nominations and massive world tours; Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight are getting more personal than ever with their The Last Goodbye.
Better known to fans as ODESZA, the electronic duo is back from a four-year hiatus with a brilliant fourth album: The Last Goodbye. The project is poignant yet approachable, tackling heady concepts of life and deeper meaning through the guise of danceable grooves, primed for communal consumption.
It’s a return to force that proved full circle for the band. It merges the group’s early sampling days with its modern cinematic era, with glimpses of deftly placed hints of home movies, their parents’ voices, hypnotherapy sessions and emotional narratives to tie it all together.
“There’s a celebratory atmosphere,” Knight says. “A Moment Apart was more about taking a step back from the group and being introspective, where as this one feels more about coming back to life as a group.”
Euphoric as it is, The Last Goodbye is also full of incredibly intimate reflection. Just as the band wrapped the grand finale of its global A Moment Apart tour, the world was forced into quarantine. The sudden stop forced Knight and Mills to go inward, and they began to contemplate who they are and where they came from – for which this record is a reflection of.
Mills and Knight met at Western Washington University, brought together by mutual friend (and current ODESZA creative) Sean Kusanagi. It was an instant meeting of the minds. In their first two-hour session, they created the track “How Did I Get Here,” and they pretty much never stopped until the release of debut LP Summer’s Gone, which was quite a surprise to them both, as design and physics majors, respectively, who had envisioned very different career paths for themselves.
“We both thought making that record was going to be like our last hurrah to goof around before we had to settle down, start trying to find jobs, etc.,” Mills says. “That’s why it sounds so carefree.”
ODESZA crafted a unique sound, partially because they didn’t know what they were really doing, but mainly because they didn’t really care. The ODESZA project has always been one of exploration for the two. Soundcloud streams brought interest from artists they admired, which in turn brought tour bookings. Before they knew it, they were living permanently on the road.
“Right around the time ‘Sun Models’ came out I was like, ‘okay, maybe we're on to something,’” Knight recalls. “We were really interested in taking organic sounds and using electronic production techniques to manipulate them, chop stuff up in an almost hip-hop based style with electronic synths backing it.”
The ODESZA sound solidified around expansive, hopeful, and summery melodies on sophomore LP In Return. Third album A Moment Apart was born of an aspiration to push themselves to another creative level: to use that hallmark production as the foundation to create musical narratives with cinematic wonder, original vocals and anthemic possibilities.
The experiment was a success, redefining ODESZA apart from being just another EDM act but rather as an artistic project with crossover appeal – one that pushed boundaries and transcended different spaces. The result? A project that drew in and resonated with fans across every lane. A Moment Apart reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 200, and earned Grammy nominations for Best Dance/Electronic Album and Best Dance Recording.
“It was one piece of the bigger puzzle; a steppingstone for us coming from the sample-based world and trying to lean a little bit more on the pop sound,” Knight says. “Every new album takes what you have in the past and reinterprets it using new techniques or processes to revamp, rethink and explore a new direction — but also not losing where you came from.”
It also gave the group space to evolve its live show from two guys behind a table to a full-fledged audio/video experience, complete with a full, live drum line, a horn section, live vocalists, and renowned live visuals. During their 2018 performance at Coachella, they even pulled out an infamous drone formation display to light up the sky. In consequence, their live show has become nothing short of legendary.
Magical as the tour and success had been, the aftermath of A Moment Apart led ODESZA to seek something entirely different. The result? A collaborative project with Australian producer Golden Features called BRONSON.
“That was really fun,” Mills says, “to just lean into sounds we weren't comfortable knowing how to make. Working on something with no preconceived notions of how it should or shouldn’t sound. It just took us out of our comfort zone, and now we're approaching the new record with more of an arsenal and a skill set. It made us better producers.”
Revitalized by the freedom the BRONSON project had afforded, ODESZA returned to the studio to craft The Last Goodbye. Mills and Knight strived to approach this album differently – creating an album inspired by relics of the past, dance, soul, with a twinge of indie/pop – and everything in between. The album feels full – and celebratory in nature. They kept things fresh and fun, buying new synthesizers and making one weird sound with which to form a song around. Emboldened by the lessons of A Moment Apart, they pushed themselves to incorporate that same air of grandeur and marry it with the house-focused rhythms and sampling techniques of their earlier efforts.
Conceptually, too, the album is somewhat of a homecoming for the duo.
“It had to start with us and how we were feeling in our lives,” Mills says, “what we've experienced but also in a way that makes it feel ambiguous as to who’s story it really is.”
Coming from nearly 4+ years of nonstop touring on the road to complete lockdown was a shock to their systems. Much like everyone, they spent time reflecting on what really proved important – their family, friends and those they hold close. They dug up old photographs and rewatched home movies from their childhood, only to see themselves in the faces of their loved ones.
Those vintage echoes of the past which felt so much like mirrors of the present became the backbone of the project, and the cyclical nature of life became a guiding light for creation.
“The Last Goodbye,” which takes its name and vocal from a sample of Bettye LaVette’s 1965 song “Let Me Down Easy,” was one of the first songs ODESZA finished. It felt right to make it the lead single, then the album title track, encapsulating so many of the sentiments the band tries to make sense of throughout the project.
When Harrison asked his mother what she thought the phrase meant, her sentiment echoed the duo’s intention completely: that there’s no such thing as a final farewell, because the people, places, and things we cherish live on in an ever-present chain of love. We reverberate through one another.
“We just kept finding these little things and it just kept feeling like a part of what the record was trying to say,” Mills says. “We felt so honored that Bettye allowed us to re-imagine that song. Being released in the 1960s, we think she felt it had had its moment in the sun, so to get the opportunity to shine a different light on her incredible vocals anew - to share in that with such a legendary artist – that was one of the more special and meaningful parts of creating this project” – it wasn’t the last goodbye for that song. It lived on through another cycle, through a new interpretation, and we just have to go with what it is. [The name] decided itself, and we couldn’t stand in the way of what this record was becoming.”
Now, the only thing left to do is unleash the record on audiences, to celebrate another era of creation that builds upon familiar roots, but also extends far beyond. Fans should expect nothing short of a spectacle as ODESZA heads out on its first amphitheater tour, filling the largest spaces of its career with moods and melodies that somehow feel intimate among the crowd.
Mostly, Knight and Mills are looking forward to seeing their fans in the setting the record was meant to be heard – together.
“We're honestly really excited for the next phase,” Knight says. And so, the cycle continues.
- American Songwriter
- Associated Press (album review)
- Associated Press (Q&A)
- Billboard (album announce)
- Billboard (album coverage)
- Billboard (best dance tracks spotlight)
- Billboard (concert review)
- Billboard (interview)
- Billboard ("The Last Goodbye" Spotlight)
- Brooklyn Vegan
- Complex (album feature)
- Complex ("The Last Goodbye" Spotlight)
- Dancing Astronaut
- EDM.com (album review)
- EDM.com (concert review)
- EDM Tunes
- Electronic Musician
- ET Online
- Hits Daily Double
- Live for Live Music
- New York Times Playlist
- "Odesza Day" Proclamation
- Paper Magazine
- Pitchfork (album review)
- Pitchfork ("The Last Goodbye" Spotlight)
- Run The Trap
- Seattle Times (concert review)
- Seattle Times (feature)
- Sound and Vision
- Stoney Roads
- Teen Vogue
- The Current
- This Song Is Sick
- USA Today
- Variance Magazine
- Washington Post
- Your EDM
- Electronic Musician
- The 405
- Billboard (print)
- Conan - "Higher Ground"
- KEXP (interview)
- NPR Here & Now
- Rolling Stone (interview)
- Seattle Times
- V Man (feature)
- Wall Street Journal
- Associated Press TV
- Billboard (Interview)
- Billboard (Bumbershoot Video)
- Billboard - "Metropolis" Playlist Spotlight
- Complex (Interview)
- Consequence of Sound
- Dancing Astronaut
- Dancing Astronaut (feature)
- The FADER (video interview)
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! - "Line of Sight"
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! - "Higher Ground"
- KEXP "Song Of The Day"
- LA Times
- Mass Appeal
- MIX Magazine
- New York Times
- NPR Music
- Nylon (feature)
- Pitchfork (2)
- Pitchfork (Album Announce)
- Rolling Stone
- Seattle Times
- USA Today
- Vice Thump
- Vice Thump (Interview)
- 303 Magazine (Red Rocks 2018)
- Arizona Republic
- Brooklyn Vegan
- Brooklyn Vegan (Red Rocks 2018)