Growth is a funny thing. It tends to go about its business in secret, like a submerged propeller pushing a ship through rough seas. Rarely do we get to experience what goes on beneath the surface; what change sounds like in motion. That’s what makes Odette’s new record, Herald, so extraordinary. Over the course of 11 soaring songs, we get to hear exactly what that journey sounds like in achingly honest detail.
Chronicling the last five years of 23-year old Georgia Odette Sallybank’s life, Herald plays like a coming-of-age drama minus the happy Hollywood ending. A triumphant follow up to her highly acclaimed debut record, 2018’s To A Stranger, the songs on Herald leave no subjective stone unturned. Love, heartbreak, grief, anger, self- analysis, accountability—you name it, it’s on here and we speak to Georgia about it.
Congratulations, it must feel like a bit of relief that the the album is out today?
It does actually!
Was there much doubt particularly with what is going on about whether this release date would actually happen?
I knew it was going to get pushed back because it really is something that you want to be able to tour and be able to play those songs live. It was starting to look like that wasn’t going to happen for a while. I was a bit concerned.
Did COVID impact on the way you went about making the album?
The album was made before last year but during the process when I finalising everything it actually changed the whole concept of the album. The album took on a new meaning so I would say it did have a big impact on how I approached this release and putting together all these songs.
Do you think you were a lot harder on yourself in terms of what songs made the album?
Um, I suppose, it really comes down to writing a lot of songs and which ones I resonate with the most, the ones I feel are the most relevant and poignant. The album came together well and this time I worked with two producers which I don’t normally do. It was a really interesting process, Carter took on more of the cinematic and orchestral element. Damian took on more of the pop/ alternative world, it was a really good collaboration.
Did you have a specific objective in mind working with two producers?
I wanted Carter to do more of the orchestral stuff. He was actually going to quit music and quit producing. I was like, you better not because you’re excellent, brilliant and need to finish this record with me. Carter has this ear for soundscapes and the cinematic world which made me think I needed this on my record. Usually I would have just worked with Damian who would have sourced somebody to do those orchestral moments but having another producer just made it a lot easier to infiltrate it in to the world rather than have it seem like a feature.
When you are able to tour on a bigger scale is that something you would like to do is tour with an orchestra or string section?
That is definitely a dream, one day I would love to do something like that. You know how Gorillaz worked with The Turkish National Orchestra, I would love to do something like that and work with a bunch of classically trained musicians but take it to the alternative and obscure place.
What did you think when you played the album back for the first time?
Honestly, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and for me I don’t really get that moment where it all comes together and makes sense. I hear everything individually and remember why I wrote it. I think I was proud and happy!
Do you think your sound has changed much between albums?
Absolutely, I think my music is a bit more complex now and I have more involvement in all of the elements. On the first record, I really love that record, but I left a lot of things up to Damian more whereas now I have the confidence to ask what I want on specific things.
Do you think some of your influences have shaped this album?
I think so, I’m influenced by some of the big powerhouse singer songwriters such as Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Joanna Newsom, Macy Gray and people like that. They do give me a confidence that sometimes I can’t find within myself. They definitely empower me.
Have you kept working on new songs to keep busy without touring?
I garden alot! I think I’m in the same boat as a lot of other creators where we have shut down a little bit over this period. It has been rough but it has been enlightening in terms of what my core values are. I would have to go back to my foundations a little bit and rebuild, refigure everything and the fact that I changed the title of this record was due to the fact I was stagnate for so long. It got a point where I wasn’t even writing music but just making things with clay, gardening and hanging out with my dog. I was wondering if I would ever write music again as I had a period where the album was done how come I can’t write a song. It was a huge, huge mental block.
Do you worry about that mental block and whether you can get past it?
I did get worried, it was intense and I didn’t write a song for about a year, maybe nine months. I write songs all the time but coming up with a good song I resonate with. I like to be busy and I think that is why I had that mental block. Over the last few months it definitely has been broken and non-stop everyday writing music, writing songs, it has been great and I am producing now so I have a lot more elements to play with as well which is exciting.
Are you feeling optimistic about touring?
Definitely, this year will be filled with opportunity and opportunities to push myself as well. I’m excited for this year and I’m glad 2020 is over… it’s gone!
Interview By Rob Lyon