ODDA’s debut single ‘Mama’ is available exclusively on Bandcamp from 1st October, then goes on general release on the 15th October.
Hi Oli! How’s it going?
“Hey man! It’s going good actually, which is weird for me to say for once. I’m out in Greece at the moment (well, at the time of writing this I am)! I decided to escape the UK and come out here for the summer season just to get a bit of headspace and regroup a little. I did manage to squeeze a recording set up in my hand luggage though, so I spend most of my time writing and recording as well as the obligatory partying and eating. As it stands though, I feel good, probably the best I have for a long time. I’m ready to really push ODDA and see how far we can go both artistically and creatively.”
You’re from the Isle of Wight. What was it like growing up there?
“I moved to the island when I was 7 and before that I wasn’t really living in a great area, so the Isle of Wight was kind of a saving grace for me and my family. It allowed all of us to settle and fall into a very comfortable way of life. The pace of living is A LOT slower than anywhere else I’ve been to. Which on one hand is frustrating because there isn’t really much to do at the weekends, and you spend half your time resenting living there and wanting to be in the big city. On the other hand though, I was allowed the space to find my creative voice at my own pace. ODDA was created in 2016 but it was never going to be ready for a long time after that. I mean, its 2021 now, so it’s taken 5 years! I think I needed that space to write a bunch of bad songs and grow to a certain point and I just wasn’t ready for a long time. I needed that time to develop myself and try to figure out what I really want from music. The reason it took so long is because it’s a hell of a lot easier to be fake these days. I think I got lost a long the way, more than a few times but we’re here now and the Isle of Wight has definitely helped me reach this point.”
Are you from a musical family?
“Not at all! My Dad played snare drum in the sea cadets when he was a teenager but that’s about it. I think I had an uncle or two that played an instrument but no one in my family influenced me to pick up music if thats what we’re getting at. It was very much a ‘I like this and I think I should start doing it’ vibe. Luckily for me, I came from a supportive family who bought me my first guitar, a bass guitar in fact, at the age of 11 and it all stemmed from there really. As I grew older, I went through various different bands, playing as much music as possible and learning different instruments along the way.”
Your song ‘Mama’ is coming out soon. How did that song come about?
“I wrote ‘Mama’ in 2019 and at the time I wasn’t in a great place. I didn’t surround myself with good people and felt like I somewhat deserved the hardships that were created around me. Massively self destructive, I know! So, the whole year was kind of a blur for me, including the writing of ‘Mama’. I do remember that it came together quite quickly though. Once I had the chords, the melody came quickly and then the words came pretty soon after that. It was a very out of body, surreal experience where my subconscious took over for a period of time. It’s kind of freaking me out a little thinking back on it now!”
Do all of your songs come about like that?
“90% of the time, the music comes first. Only because the music heavily influences the emotion and feel of the melody that I come up with, and then that gives me a boundary for words and phrases etc. The subconscious way of writing plays into it a little but not that much. When I describe it as an out of body experience I think mean more ‘out of the room’. When I’m writing, there really is no point asking me what I want for dinner. I find I have to go into a weird headspace where I go quiet and let my brain do it’s thing which is probably just a way of giving my subconscious a voice, now I’m thinking about it. When I get in this headspace my ego and anxiety politely do one and just let me create and express how I wish without any of the external pressures that dictate whether it’s good or not. Writing songs is hard for me though, because I haven’t mastered getting myself into this space. The anxiety and the ego is all too present in my day to day but I try to move past it. I want to write songs but most of the time, I can’t force it.”
Who are your songwriting heroes?
“Easy! John Prine, Nina Simone, Laura Marling and Justin Vernon.”
You had two Grammy winners helping you make ‘Mama’. That’s pretty good for a debut single! How did that happen?
“You tell me, please! I honestly have no clue how I’ve got to this point. How has a guy from the Isle of Wight who spent most of his life writing songs in confidence, afraid to be a musician, managed to work with TWO Grammy winners on his debut single? I feel incredibly fortunate and overwhelmed that other people like my song enough to emotionally invest in it. I don’t know how I’ve got to this point but I’m so excited for people to hear what we’ve done together and hopefully others like it too!”
Are you looking forward to performing live again?
“I am! I’ve played live a lot with various different people, but I’ve only done a few ODDA gigs so I’m keen to get out there and start to make my own mark on the live scene. Thing is, I find it easy to be vulnerable in a studio or behind closed doors now, but putting myself out there on a stage actually in front of people?!.. I think that’s just something I’m going to have to get used to. I am excited though and I hope people are excited to come and see me at some point, even if right now only one song is coming out. My aim is to make my live show as communal as possible. Not in a ‘sing-a-long’ kind of way but in more of a community way where we’re all people that love music and want to experience it all together, so I hope I can get that across.”
If you could play at any festival, which one would you choose?
“Primavera Sound in Barcelona! Didn’t even have to think about that one. I’ve wanted to go for the longest time and I’ve always thought playing it would be sick!”
If you could play a duet with any musician, living or dead, who would that be? And what would you play?
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and if I’m being real, there’s only one answer to it: Mac Millar’s Tiny Desk concert singing 2009. I’ve only recently ‘got’ the Mac Miller thing but I would do anything to have been in that room and play in that band. If you haven’t checked it out then just do it. It’s a real shame he doesn’t get to create and share his voice with us anymore but at least we can still appreciate what he has done and what he has said. Mac wasn’t afraid to be honest and real with where his head was at. Mental health was never a sore topic for him and he was an advocate for speaking up and expressing how he feels within his music. We need more of that. We’re all very aware of the importance of men’s mental health these days but there is still a weird lack of acceptance with it.”
Last question: Socks with sandals — yes or no?
“Personally for me it’s a big no, but if your feet are that gross that you need to wear socks with sandals then who am I to judge? Maybe we should be thanking them, instead of giving them disapproving looks from the other side of the road and assuming they have bad fashion sense. Perhaps they are protecting the public from something more traumatising and dangerous than just poor style choice!”
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