Zurich-based, electronic pop duo Odd Beholder is composed of Daniela Weinmann and James Varghese. The pair’s debut EP, Lighting, came out May 13th on Mouthwatering Records. In true international style, the 6-track EP was written in Amsterdam and recorded in Berlin.
Here is how Daniela and James explain their creative process, via the press release for Lighting: “Writing songs to preserve delicate emotions during rough times. Rain. Electricity. Sound as texture. Collecting sounds. Synthesizers and drum machines. Ways to escape a busy mind and keep fear at bay.”
I recently had the chance to catch up with Daniela for this exclusive interview so enjoy!
1. Do you remember the details of the day Odd Beholder started? Please take us back to that moment…
Daniela: The day we founded Odd Beholder was actually the day I thought I was forced to quit music. On that occasion, I chose to meet James in a bar that I find particularly ugly. I never go to the Odeon. It’s a place for tourists who want to drink tea, where James Joyce or Lenin had drunk their tea back in the day. It has this ridiculous style, a mix between art deco and a tourist trap from the 80s. Fake red leather, some marble, some gold, you get the idea.
I was devastated because I was going to tell James that the drummer had left the band. Only half a year ago, I had asked James to join. I had little hope to find a replacement for my drummer and good friend, and so I told James that it was over. What he answered was what I expected the least. He just said, “Well, let’s do an album together. Let’s just record it and then we’ll see. I want to produce your stuff.” So what I thought was a break-up talk was rather a first date, if we want to stick to that metaphor. I think I would have chosen a different bar had I known that.
2. What is it like to look back now at your music trajectory?
Daniela: I am surprised that James saw Odd Beholder in my songs. He’s a trained musician and yet he had enough imagination to work with the raw stuff I made. We’ve come a very long way. In the beginning, there were just a few songs over sketchy guitar riffs. Given that I’ve written the songs, I take my own investment for granted – I love to play around with sounds and chords and melodies, I can go on and on.
But I am amazed by James’ perseverance. He had to make this very weird Daniela-esque project his own. Music is such a vague word that describes very disparate phenomena. People who care about music actually care about a lot of different things. That day in the Odeon, I could only anticipate James’ way of thinking about music. I didn’t know what it was that he heard in my sketches. Now we’re Odd Beholder and I like Odd Beholder a lot.
That sounds silly, but it’s not often the case that you actually get where you want to go. They say that if you can dream it, then you can do it. What a cynical thing to say. Have you ever dreamed about breathing underwater? Don’t try this at home. I never thought I could be Odd Beholder. And I have dreamed of being Odd Beholder all these years.
3. Do you hear things in your songs now that you weren’t aware of when you recorded them?
Daniela: Yes. The songs are somehow more generous than I thought. They allow a lot more space, a lot more interpretation, than I expected. When I played the songs alone, they were close, intimate, also somewhat more demanding. Now they have become a landscape, they allow you to wander around.
Before I went into the recording process, I had never really thought about the way I sing. When I recorded my voice, I decided how each word had to sound. But I wasn’t aware of how quiet my voice is. Only during the mastering sessions I realised that I barely swim on the surface of our sound, sometimes I’m even taking a dive. I kind of like it. It’s more like talking or confessing something. I always liked how some singers don’t actually sing, they just talk the words on the right note.
4. What are you both up to right now?
Daniela: Right now we’re playing a festival. My ears are ringing because I’ve listened to the Japanese band Bordedoms yesterday. I went very close to the stage. It was the coolest. It’s an honor to participate in such a festival. But apart from that, we’re finishing our second EP.
5. Can we expect more beautiful videos from you anytime soon? Are they going to be so enchantingly odd, “Landscape Escape”?
Daniela: We shot the next video coming out on our own in the banlieue of Paris. We’re excited about it because it’s very handmade. So yeah, it’s going to be odd. We got involved with some Brutalist, weird, post-modern architecture.
Check out their debut EP Lighting:
Also check out the awesome video for the first single Landscape Escape: