Odette thought she knew what her sophomore album was going to be with the title ‘Dwell’ locked in and a vision of heartbreak and victimisation filling up the canvas. But then the world started to change with the global pandemic shifting plans and causing introspective thoughts to unravel. In these moments she realised there was a deeper issue rooted in this record that needed to be shared, and thats where ‘Herald’ was born.
Acknowledging that she was in an unwell place during the writing process of this record, she was diagnosed with a mental health disorder that gave her a much needed turning point. “This record is not supposed to be a representation of the ideal headspace. It’s just an honest statement of how it has been for me for the past two years. And it’s also a reference for me so I know to never ever go back there” she explains to ThomasBleach.com before elaborating, “Putting this record out there makes that toxic mindset tangible, accountable and a point of reference. It’s solidifying and confirming the experience for me in a way that isn’t shame based”. With the heart and messaging of the record shifting, it highlighted a lot of honest growth and maturity that helped make this record so captivating, heavy, and relatable.
Opening with the title track, she immediately draws you into this world of introspection and melodrama with the cinematic and theatrical soundscapes feeling quite ethereal within their delivery. However the innovative production has a very natural selection within its foundations with vocal samples being pulled from nature with insect and magpie noises integrated and looped into beats that give it the appropriate grounding it needed to embody.
I recently chatted to Odette about the importance that introspection had on the foundations of ‘Herald’, explored the creative processes behind songs like ‘Why Can’t I Let The Sun Set’, ‘I Miss You, I’m Sorry’ and ‘What I Know Is Not Enough’, and dived into the nature imagery that is built into the record. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your sophomore studio album ‘Herald’ opens with the title track. What was it about this track that you felt like captured the essence of the record that you wanted to not only call the record it, but also open with it?
Odette: Honestly to start with, the record was originally called ‘Dwell’ and it centred around that song. The album got pushed back because of COVID and during that time I had a lot of personal growth. I don’t want to say that I was romanticising pain, but I’m also not going to say I wasn’t doing that. I had to kind of re-shift it to make it more true to who I was becoming, as well as a bit more accountable for who I was.
So ‘Herald’ is all about rage, and that inner fury at someone else where you almost forget your entire self just because of this feeling. It’s interesting because when I wrote that song I was in such an un-well place, I was so sick mentally, and then I started getting better and the song took on a new meaning. It became about trying, earning, and hoping instead of “you are the worst, go and die” *laughs*. It became more about that I want to get well, and the fact that I just had to be honest about how I was.
TB: ’Why Can’t I Let The Sun Set’ is a very beautiful and emotionally charged track that immediately captivates the listener. So can you explain how this track creatively came together?
O: I love that song, it’s one of my favourites on the album! I wrote it three years ago, and I originally wanted it to be piano based. I think one day I will release an acoustic album of all my favourite songs with just me and a piano because the piano in that is so pretty. I had one of those moments after I finished writing it like; “bitch, I wrote THAT! Okay!”.
I was listening to a lot of Philip Glass at the time, so I didn’t put words to it for a long time and I was just like “this piano is sexy!”. And then a whole bunch of intense shit happened and I was like “oh okay, I get it, this is what this song was for”.
I ended up writing this song sort of about the inability to grow. You can’t really rush growth, but I was trying to rush growth. I’m an inpatient person, and I really just wanted to get well. I went to therapy, I did everything, so I found myself asking; why am I still sick? Why can’t I let go? Why do I still feel this way? So yeah, that’s what that track is about.
TB: In ‘I Miss You, I’m Sorry’ you turn the blame on yourself for a breakdown of a relationship, instead of focusing on what they may have done wrong. How important was self introspection during the writing process for this song?
O: Oh my god, It was so important. The song starts off in a state of self-victimising, and I wanted it to be journey from that state of mind where I was like “oh my god I’ve been so hurt”, into realising that I played a major part in it.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. When you get hurt it’s all-consuming that sometimes you just feel like it’s somebody else’s fault. Surely you wouldn’t make yourself feel this way? But after a while I had to realise that it was actually my fault, and I had to come to terms with that, which was more painful than it being someone else’s.
Introspection was the whole concept of this record. I was very consumed in trying to figure out how to get out of my own head by diving deeper into my head. Which sort of worked actually.
TB: A lyric in that song that ruined me was; “I miss those eyes that adored me”
O: The one that ruins me the most is “I am sitting all alone at the piano where you once kissed me neck and cheek and nose”. I HATE that line because it’s way too real.
TB: Sometime’s singing about the happy moments are harder than singing about the bad one’s.
O: Yeah! It’s so painful singing that song, but it’s also so playful because of the piano chords as my hands have to cross *laughs*. I have these little sausage fingers, so playing that bit is really difficult. I’ve performed it live a few times to test the waters and it’s so hard, so it often just sounds like I’m key bashing *laughs*. But I still love it.
TB: ’What I Know Is Not Enough’ is another special moment that was actually born out of a disastrous trip to New York where you fell really sick. You went over expecting to find yourself in New York, but what was something you learnt about yourself from that trip?
O: I learnt that I can be a dumb bitch, and make bad choices. I wish I could go back and wake myself up from my thoughts and be like “bitch, you’re in New York! Go to the MET! Go to Central Park!”, but I was just in this room the whole time just crying and smoking weed. That was my whole trip. And then I got to Los Angeles and was like “maybe I should go outside”.
I was really sick. I learnt that if I get a inclination to travel while I’m unwell then it’s a brain trap. It was not good. I didn’t learn a lot about myself until I got back as I was in this really weird headspace of psychosis. It was bad.
TB: A lyric I love from that song is; “Did you ever truly love? Did you ever truly trust? If you care like everyone, why’d your words amount to dust?”. Can you explain where that lyric came from?
O: Rage! When I wrote these songs I didn’t have a diagnosis for BPD (Border Personality Disorder) yet. When I hear that line, and when I hear all these lyrics, I hear somebody who has split. And splitting is viewing things as black and white. So this was definitely a case of me rejecting any kind of past life, and any kind of past affection, purely because I was hurt. I had created a narrative in my mind that he had never loved me and I truly believed that for a moment, which was really sad because he did love me in his own way. I sort of almost de-humanised him in my mind. I isolated him from the rest of humanity and played him out to be pure evil which was so untrue.
Honestly when I hear that lyric it almost makes me cringe, but this record is not supposed to be a representation of the ideal headspace. It’s just an honest statement of how it has been for me for the past two years. And it’s also a reference for me so I know to never ever go back there. Putting this record out there makes that toxic mindset tangible, accountable and a point of reference. It’s solidifying and confirming the experience for me in a way that isn’t shame based.
TB: In ‘Amends’ you mention the moon, cliffs, fog, moss, earthworms, dirt, and long grass, and even in ‘I Miss You I’m Sorry’ you mention the undertow. So what is it about nature that you find a lot of emotional healing in?
O: There’s been a lot of different traumas in my own inter-personal life that I find nature, insects, and landscapes to be the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. And not because they are the most beautiful thing, but because when something bad happens I run away to nature to be somewhere where it’s not about me. That’s why I like it, because it’s not about me. Most of the time I’m very self-absorbed but I find that nature is a way to get out of my head and connect with the world.
I suppose I wanted to make sure that even though these songs are going to a really intense and emotional places that the soundscape and textures aren’t enabling that, and are instead kind of working to create an environment around that so I can navigate it. The songs flow between moments of self absorption and all consuming introspection into a state of clarity. And the clarity is when I start referring to the environment because I’m finally being present in the moment.
TB: What was the first track you finish for ‘Herald’, and what was the last?
O: First was probably ‘Foghorn’ and the last track was probably ‘What I Know Is Not Enough’ because at first I thought it was kind of boring and my producer Damian Taylor was like “dude, this is a good song” so we kept working on it.
Actually, I think ‘Dwell’ may have been last because I worked with Pip Taylor on that last minute in Melbourne. But those were definitely the last two songs, and ‘Foghorn’ was the first.
TB: With the time between those two songs, what did this creative process really teach you about your artistry and personal evolution?
O: I got diagnosed, so I learnt why I’ve always been told that I’m emotionally intense. I think a part of it is who I am, and a part of it is mental illness. There’s a fine line.
I also learnt a lot about my creative process. I think I pushed myself more on this record compared to anything that I’ve worked on previously which was kind of liberating actually. I started to learn Logic halfway through the project, so I had a little bit more understanding of the engineering process and have a hand in the tech wizardry of it.
TB: You’re inspired by a lot of different things sonically, and this record includes a lot of unique sounds including a magpie on ‘Amends’. So what is another unusual sound that people can listen out to hear on the record?
O: There’s honestly so many, but the bug noises are pretty cool. I’ve always had a love of insects ever since I was a tiny baby. They’re just the coolest thing to me, and I love how they can just exist. You could be having a bad day, and then you look down and there’s just a cicada chilling being a cicada *laughs*.
TB: When you were putting together the track listing, what was the most important takeaway you wanted people to have when listening to it from start to finish?
O: I want people to know that this isn’t wellness. The way that I designed this record was to take it from a place of un-wellness to a place where I wouldn’t even say “well yet”. ‘Mandible’ is the last song, and that song to me is the sweet serenade to an unknown universal thing. I’m not religious, but it was as spiritual as I’m going to get.
The album flows from being sick to being curious. I want people to know that you don’t have to have this grand happy ending. It’s about figuring out what you want and taking it one step at a time.
TB: After finishing ‘To A Stranger’ and starting to vision what your sophomore album would be, did you have any different visions or expectations before it shifted into this concept of growth and hurting?
O: Yeah for sure! I thought it was going to be this record of “I’m so sad, look at what these people did to me”. It was so about me, and how bad I was having it. And look I was, but what it’s evolved into now is not changing or re-writing that mindset because that would be untrue, but holding myself accountable for that mindset and trying to understand myself.
‘Herald’ is out now!
2021 Herald Australian Tour
Thursday 6 May – Altar, Hobart
Friday 7 May – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Saturday 8 May – Volta, Ballarat
Sunday 9 May – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (U18 Matinee)
Friday 14 May – Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide (2 x Sessions)
Friday 21 May – The Triffid, Brisbane
Saturday 22 May – The Northern, Byron Bay
Sunday 23 May – HOTA, Gold Coast
Friday 4 June – The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday 5 June – The Cambridge, Newcastle
Friday 11 June – UOW Uni Bar, Wollongong (2 x Sessions)
Saturday 12 June – Kambri @ ANU, Canberra
Friday 18 June – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth (2 x Sessions)
For all ticketing details click here