It’s hard to imagine the world without constant turmoil, isn’t it? Last week was a doozy given all the natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires to an earthquake that should give every Angeleno some cause for concern. Art is a healthy distraction. Songs can transport you to another world, or rather connect you through a switchboard as in “Incoming Call” by new LA band, Oddnesse.
Oddnesse is the duo of Rebeca Arango and Grey Goon (aka Doug Walters). Arango describes their songs as co-written, though the project came about after she had been working on some song ideas on her own and needed help with production. Like many music endeavors sprouted in LA, their introduction was happenstance but the music cemented the connection. Their debut EP appeared to be a straightforward four-track release, with an infectious edge that makes it more rewarding the more times you hear it. Each track had its own art and sound direction but was consumer-facing, permanently branded with its position in the tracklist sequence. Arango discusses this and her broader career pragmatically, fully aware of the saturated music market that she’s entered.
And she should know–she was editor-in-chief at recently-defunct LA Canvas. You may remember that printed culture magazine, where she contributed food and music pieces; her notable features included then-up-and-coming TOKiMONSTA, and Kendrick Lamar before the release of good kid m.A.A.d city. “It made me jaded,” she told me, explaining that she had been on what she calls a hiatus from music, where she still wrote and recorded but was not actively working toward it as a vocation. Arango studied music at NYU, which put her bar for achievement very high. She set out to create a music project several years back, but scrapped the entire thing when she knew the vision couldn’t be fully realized. Simple explanation: “I went to music school, it can’t be shitty.”
Arango’s standards remain too high for self-congratulation. Perfectionist might be too rigid a term to describe her, but she nevertheless aims for nothing short of perfection. She critiques her vocals when we discuss the winter release; she also mentions how chaotic she finds live performances. “I love to play live, don’t get me wrong, but it’ll never be as good as it sounds in the studio,” she tells me. We agree that this is a matter of perspective; unreliable monitors, infinitesimally diverse soundboards, and excessive gear may create literal magic to an audience, but the uncertainty of it all could overwhelm a performer.
This comes from a woman whose life is quiet. Arango describes herself as an awkward introvert, part of the explanation behind a moniker such as ‘Oddnesse.’ (The pronunciation emphasis lands on the second syllable, elevating it to sound “sophisticated,” like the word finesse.) She keeps her phone on silent, and finds it otherwise intrusive: this is the premise of “Incoming Call.” As reverb fills the background, the lyrics describe contact from another world, one that may be entirely in one’s mind. The foundation of this universe is laid in shoegaze melodies among a dreampop atmosphere. Oddnesse’s songwriting capitalizes on the gentle nuances of each track’s focal point; “Incoming Call” is appropriately extra-terrestrial, while “Swim to the Shore” exudes confidence: “Oh come on, it can’t be so deep. If you’re afraid I’ll let you hang onto me.”
The band’s newest single came out just under a month ago, and refines their shoegaze attitude. “Are You Down” preaches to live life and embrace love at a comfortable pace through an apt downtempo rhythm. As far as where this single will lead us, it almost definitely won’t be a full-length record. When asked about a vision for a prospective LP, she explains that she’s just letting things come as they may. Arango often thinks in terms of her audience, which sounds lame on paper, but really is just self-awareness from an artist’s perspective. If you’re going to create art, it would be nice to know that people are paying attention. Well, we’re finally paying attention to Oddnesse, and eager to see where their journey leads them.
by: Zoë Elaine