To A Stranger: A Q+A with Odette

It was a stroke of luck and Spotify Discovery genius that helped us stumble upon Australian singer/songwriter and lyrical goddess Odette late last year and our ears have never been happier. It’s exceptionally rare for a single to stop you in your tracks, but Odette’s debut single ‘Watch Me Read You,’ an incredibly powerful and emotional ballad, did just that and more.

Flash forward another year and at only twenty one years of age, this year has seen Odette release her stunning debut album, ‘To A Stranger,’ embark on a sold out headline tour throughout Australia and more recently, receive an ARIA nomination for ‘Breakthrough Artist’ of the year.

With another Australian headline tour on the cards for 2019, it seems life is going to only get busier for this rising star, so we jumped at the opportunity to catch up with Odette and ask her all about songwriting, poetry and music videos, while we still can. 

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Firstly, congratulations on your recent ARIA nomination for Breakthrough Artist – very deserving! What does being nominated mean to you? 

Thank you! It’s wild in all honesty. I’m shaking in my boots. I grew up watching the arias, sitting on the living room floor with my parents and honestly I’m still shook that I’m nominated. It’s a very wonderful feeling to be recognised alongside a lot of artists I’ve looked up to since I was a little kid.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background – Have you always had a great appreciation of music and when did you begin writing your own material?

My parents definitely raised me to appreciate music. When times got tough I would always turn to an album on their shelf and just close my door and play it. Eventually when I started playing piano as a young kid I realised I could get that feeling of listening to an amazing album by writing songs. I got a thrill from it and eventually it just became my best way to communicate how I was thinking and feeling.

‘To A Stranger’ is an absolutely stunning debut album. A lot of the themes you explore are very emotive and personal – what was your creative process like during the writing and recording of the record? 

Honestly I don’t really have a creative process. I just get a feeling that comes over me and I write the song, however that may be. Voice memos, pen and paper, notes in my phone. There are so many jumbled up fragments of songs scattered all over my house as well. I think when I was putting the album together it was difficult because I had to sort of sift through all my jumbled words and tracks and find the truest songs that represented me at that time.

Listening to ‘Watch Me Read You’ and ‘Lotus Eater,’ it would seem your lyricism is heavily influenced by poetry.. What is your relationship with poetry, and how has it informed your writing style?

I grew up reading it. Mostly because I had a short attention span and grew apart from novels fairly quickly which was a shame. I’m trying to get back into them now but I always resonated with short moments of clear imagery that I could get from poets like Sylvia Plath, Keats, Walt Whitman.

I read that ‘Lotus Eater’ was the first spoken word song you ever wrote – can you tell us how that track came about and the inspiration behind it?

I was walking home from school and I started writing about what I was seeing. There were weeds growing through the cement. I think I’d just had a really long day and week and month and year you know? So I got home and it just sort of fell out of my brain.

I cried the first time I heard ‘Watch Me Read You,’ it’s such a powerful song. The simplicity of the video is also stunning, can you talk us through the inspiration behind the track and how the video came about?

Wow thank you. I don’t even know how to respond. I wrote it during a time where I was very young and all the supports that a young person should have in their life had dissipated. I was entirely alone save a couple of close friends. I needed to talk about what was happening but I couldn’t put anything into a simple sentence so I let my fragmented head kind of just take it and run with it.

Looking back over the songs that make up this record, they really explore your final years as a teenager before transitioning into adulthood – was it a therapeutic thing for you to explore, write and sing about these different life experiences? 

It was honestly just a way to remember. I always forget hardship, it’s something I don’t have control over. So I wanted to remember what it was like to be that conflicted whilst growing up. Very cathartic.

Who/what are some of the influences to your lyric writing and what was it like working with Damian Taylor? 

I don’t really have any influences to my lyrics, mostly just the intent behind a project. I value honesty- even in story telling and things that aren’t real. I think there needs to be something representative of the truth in music or I just sort of disconnect.

Working with Damian was truly special. He’s got a way with producing that brings everyone he works with’s world into colour.

Were there any important lessons you learnt, or advice you were given during working on this record? 

Don’t drunk text dumb boys.

How about any particular lessons or messages you hope people take away with them when listening to ‘To A Stranger?’ 

Talk. Even if it’s with yourself. Smiling and carrying on is self destructive in the long term and you shouldn’t be alone with your hurt. It’ll manifest itself into many many things.

Between yourself and artists such as Amy Shark, Jack River and Courtney Barnett, there seems to be an incredible number of female musicians dominating the Australian music scene at the moment – what is your take on the industry over there at the moment?

Well personally I’m quite excited about it. I think with the way the industry is going over here, hopefully we won’t be called ‘female musicians’ at all and we can just be called what we are which is just ‘musicians’ or ‘artists.’

You recently sold out your Australian headline tour which is absolutely incredible – how did it go? 

It went very well! I got to meet some amazing fans which was intense and overwhelming but in the best way!

On that note, can we expect to see you on New Zealand shores anytime soon?
(We’d absolutely love to have you here!)

Um absolutely. I would love to come!

We don’t want to spoil it for when we do see you live, but what is an Odette live show like?

No spoilers but I tour with my amazing drummer, Liam, my synth player and vocalist, James, and then there’s me with my keyboard. There are bangers but also sad bangers and then also just sad songs that I’ve watched people cry to. It’s a roller coaster of emotions but it’s a great time!

Last but not least, are there any artists that you’re listening to right now that we need to check out? 

Yes! Oh Pep!

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Odette is touring across Australia in March/April 2019, stay tuned on her Facebook page for more!


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