Odette is spearheading a new generation of singer-songwriters. Not beholden to one genre, her sound spans numerous styles but is united by her ever-present ability to craft searing lyrics.
Born in England and raised in Sydney, she was raised on eclectic musical diet. Her Zulu mother introducing her to music from across Africa, soul, funk and rhythm and her father, a jazz pianist, sharing new wave, jazz as well as passing on his musical talent.
In July she will release her debut album To A Stranger, her raw talent having caught the attention of some of biggest names in the business. The album was helmed by Grammy nominated producer Damian Taylor (Bjork, The Prodigy, The Killers, UNKLE) and in the past couple of years has work with producers and songwriters including Charlie Hugall (Florence and the Machine, Ed Sheeran, Kaiser Chiefs), Jason Cox (Blur, Gorilliaz, Jamie T), Alex Hope (Troye Sivan, Broods), Sarah Aarons (Zedd, Dua Lipa).
Odette has quickly established herself as voice that needs to be listened to. She’s the future.
You have a real gift for storytelling through your music, were you a big reader growing up and did this shape your songwriting?
I loved to read when I was younger. I was very much into poetry. Mostly it was not very good, but I was and always have been a big lover of Keats. I also loved to read old adventure books like The Magic Faraway tree. That was my favourite. I definitely grew a love for story telling by reading that book. It was absolutely magic. I wanted to be transported to these different worlds, which is something I guess I’ll always do through my music and writing.
Are there any fictional characters you really identify with?
Definitely Anne of Green Gables. Everything about her I instantly connected with when I was a child. I used to go to my gran’s house and we would watch that movie and she’d cook me chicken giblets. She used to call me Anne and joke about how I always had a similar temperament. I loved to be immersed in my own world because I think at the time I had quite a few troubles. I was also a little hot headed so... there we go.
When your songs are so personal, is there something nerve-wracking about sharing your songs with the world or are you just happy it’s out there?
I’ve been asked this question a few times before and in all honesty I’d never even thought of it. I’ve never felt self-conscious performing my songs or showing the world unless it’s in front of who it’s about specifically. Otherwise, I think it’s a very special and powerful thing to share the deepest parts of you with others. You can really connect with people and it lets you see the real love in people’s hearts when they resonate with you. I’ve cried a few times reading stories of people who’ve connected with my music. It’s amazing to see dancers and writers and artists all reacting in their own beautiful ways. It makes me incredibly happy to be a part of all of that.
What do you hope people take away from the album?
I just want to write stories and songs that reach people, that make people feel something.
You worked with some incredible people on the record, what’s the recording process of been like?
It’s been a lot. This album took a couple of years to make and I’ve met a plethora of talented minds. I specifically have to mention the producer and man behind the curtain, Damian Taylor. He’s really matured my understanding of the album-making process and also just me as an artist. But yeah, the process. It was a lot of work. Early mornings and late nights in succession of each other. I loved every minute of it though. The studio for me is kind of like this magic place where everything comes to life. I have to have my lemon and honey tea though.
Your music can’t easily be pigeonholed, which artists influenced your sound?
I grew up listening to a LOT of different music. It’s a bit of a messy palette in all honesty. My Dad was really into bands like The Clash and New Order whilst my Ma was more into stuff like Angelique Kidjo and 80’s bobs.
Along the way I realised I was very much drawn to singer songwriters, artists playing instruments and Justin pouring their hearts out. I was really into Missy Higgins as a kid for example. She honestly started me writing with ‘The Sound Of White’. A few years ago I heard ‘Cosmia’ by Joanna Newsom and it just floored me. I’ve been in love with her music ever since. I definitely try not to put a genre to my songs because it doesn’t work. I’m always changing and nothing sticks. The one thing that remains constant is that I’ll always be oversharing.
There is a poetic quality to your songwriting and delivery - a hybrid of performance/ poetry and music. Was that a conscious decision?
If I’m being 100% honest, nothing I do is ever a conscious decision when it comes to writing. It’s like I’m in a trance and I just write and write until I’ve made something. I think maybe there’s a little secret me who knows exactly what she’s doing but I have yet to meet her.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m playing a lot of shows! My album is coming out in July and I’m touring it in August which is really exciting. I’m also touring with The Cat Empire in September! Other than that I’m just going to be writing nonstop.
To A Stranger will be released on 6 July. Odette will be appearing at The Great Escape and headlines at the Slaughtered Lamb on 22 May. Tickets available here.