Odawas, whose name was taken from a native American tribe, were formed in Bloomington Indiana by songwriter and vocalist Michael Tapscott (who also plays guitar, keyboards and harmonica) and arranger Isaac Edwards (who handles most of the synthesiser duties, organ and programming) in 2004. That year saw the release of the Vitamin City EP followed in 2005 by the full length album The Aether Eater. These records, which showcased lush keyboards and gentle acoustic guitar along with Tapscott’s reverb coated vocals earned positive comparisons to the likes of Neil Young and My Morning Jacket. It was followed in 2007 by Raven and the White Night which combined folk with drifts into prog-rock and more expansive use of sampled strings.
Moving westwards to Chicago Illinois the duo recorded The Blue Depths. Released earlier this year its focus on ambient old school synths — think Vangelis and Angelo Badalamenti — and majestic, dreamy songs yielded great dividends resulting in Odawas most cohesive album to date. We recently spoke to Michael Tapscott about the beautiful depths of The Blue Depths, the Odawas live experience including SXSW, influential soundtracks and the mystery of the sea.
The Blue Depths is the find of the year for me so far. Did you ever imagine getting your music released in Australia?
It kind of came out of the blue, and we’re pretty ecstatic to be working with Rogue and Inertia, they’re some of the top labels there. We definitely had no aspirations that this would happen.
When you formed Odawas did you have a game plan at all?
No. When we started out Isaac and I were both students at Indiana University. He was a film student and we recorded some songs to be in a movie that he was making, although the movie never actually got made, and we just sort of fell into doing this. We signed a record contract with Jagjaguwar after we had made our first record. We’d only played two or three shows at that point and neither of had been in any bands before. Everything’s been rolling since then.
Did you send your stuff to a lot of labels or just Jagjaguwar?
Indiana University is in Bloomington Indiana where Jagjaguwar are based out of, so we knew a lot of the guys just from around town, working in record stores and stuff like that. We sent it to a few companies. Kranky and a few other small labels were interested, but it just made sense to go with Jagjaguwar and we totally lucked out with having a direct connection to them.
They’ve really grown in the last few years as well.
They’d never put out a record by a local band at that point, and they still haven’t. So it was pretty special for them to put it out. I’m not sure why they did.
I just saw the beautiful video for “Harmless Lovers Discourse” (below) and was wondering if you had any input in that?
No. There were two guys in Chicago who really liked the record and especially that song and wanted to make a video for it. They didn’t ask for any money, they just did it. I tried to be pretty hands off in telling them what to do. They did a pretty incredible job.
Do you know if they used stock footage or filmed new footage for the clip
From what I gather most of the footage was shot around Chicago by them.
Your music obviously lends itself to either film or Television soundtracks. Are you working on any scores at the moment?
We recently did a film score for a friend’s short film. He’s a graduate student at a film school in Chicago. Being in a band that tours around the country just happened to us, our goal is to make music for film, TV and commercials. That’s the kind of music we’re really into and that’s what we’d like to do. Hopefully being in an art-rock band on Jagjaguwar has opened some doors for us to do that in the future. It seems like it could be a much more stable way to make a living.