ODESZA and Golden Features Talk Their New Joint Album, BRONSON

The power trio’s self-titled debut album, BRONSON, is out now via Foreign Family Collective & Ninja Tune.

Seattle duo ODESZA and Australian producer Golden Features are two of the world’s biggest and most sought after electronic music acts. Together, they are the new and sonically profound trio BRONSON — a fresh project that represents a complete “creative departure” from their original sounds. Their new direction is bold, instrument-heavy, and revelatory in a way that gives these award-winning artists a clean slate on which to exercise their refreshed dance floor mission. 

Having admired each other’s work from afar for quite some time, ODESZA and Golden Features first linked up backstage at a small festival in the Australian city of Perth in 2014. A close friendship soon blossomed as they spent more and more time on the road together. But for years, both acts remained fully occupied by their respective careers: busy tour schedules, chart-topping hits, headlining festivals and selling out arena-sized venues. 

In 2018, however, the three musicians decided to rent an isolated house somewhere in the outback of Australia to come up with some new tracks. Inspiration struck, and the material flowed fast. It was during their initial writing sessions that the group watched the Nicolas Refn film, Bronson — a drama based on a true story of the UK’s most formidable inmate, Charles Bronson. Naming their first project folder after the flick, they decided to stick with the name as their sound began to take its twisted and glorious form.

Exploring a sweet and pleasantly sour middle-ground between their platinum electro-pop appeal and each of their personal, more underground tastes, BRONSON’s 10-track debut weaves expansive dreamscapes, melodic vocal-driven compositions, and roughneck drum patterns. It’s gorgeous, dark, uplifting, and unsettling at the same time. And features guest appearances from notable vocalists such as Gallant, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and lau.ra (of Ultraísta).

Having just released this noteworthy LP via ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective and independent music powerhouse, Ninja Tune, we caught up with BRONSON to check in on their refreshed production process, their recent music videos, the thought-process behind pushing their musical limits, and what the future holds for this new power trio.

The album is somewhat of a departure from your arena-level dance music. How would you characterize BRONSON’s approach to production versus Golden Features & ODESZA’s?

In many ways, that was one of the main motivations of the album — to make something that was a creative departure from both of our respective projects, something that would push our boundaries and make us take risks. Working together really refined the way we approached the production of the album; we didn’t want to go into it building the same soundscapes we’ve done previously. We really experimented with different sounds and hybridized so many different genres — everything from jungle, to more melodic influences, to sampling a marching army, to ‘80s fueled sounds. But we tried to practice a sense of restraint to really let each element shine (which we hope we accomplished).

What are some of the factors that stimulated this new sonic approach? 

We wrote the album over a period of years, so there were so many different influences that we adopted just due to it being a fractured writing process, and it’s hard to trace it back to any specific artists or records that were inspirations per se. The real only overarching motivation was to just make something that excited and inspired us. We didn’t put any limitations on ourselves during the writing process, and kind of just let whatever happened, happen. It was this creative outlet that didn’t fit within our worlds of ODESZA and Golden Features, which allowed us to really push our limits sonically, which is what you’re hearing. In terms of the emotion of the record matching the times, that was actually more of a coincidence. We finished the project just before everything was starting to unfold, but we hope that in the midst of it all, people can find emotional relief when listening through.

If you could send a person anywhere in the world to listen to this album from front to back, what environment would you put them in?

This record is really meant to be experienced live, so we’d have to say that the best listening environment would be at a show, taking in all of the music and the visuals all at once, surrounded by other people. One of the main goals of the album was to make something that everyone could relate to, and escape, in their own way, so we can’t wait until we’re able to share that experience collectively when it’s safe to do so.

Pandemic aside for a moment, how have you seen the landscape of popular dance music change over the past few years? Would you agree with the sentiment that commercial producers and even mainstream dance fans are beginning to gravitate towards more “underground” electronic music styles?

The electronic landscape has definitely shifted and changed over the past few years — there was this massive oversaturation that seemed to implode. It kind of feels like the underground had a resurgence, out of the ashes, and as a result dance music is more exciting than it’s been in a long time. We’re not sure that more commercial producers and mainstream listeners are necessarily actively becoming part of the underground wave, but personally, we’ve always loved artists who still pay tribute to the underground/history, but in the same breath, make it more approachable.

Tell us a little bit about the music videos for the albums first singles “DAWN” and “KEEP MOVING.”

They’re kind of like microcosms representative of the entire project. The album has so many peaks and valleys and is centered around the idea of duality, of the balance lightness and darkness, of more intense instrumental moments, as in “KEEP MOVING”, and notes of reprieve, like you hear in “DAWN”. The visuals of both of these tracks are reflective of those emotions — the music video for “KEEP MOVING” has a lot to unpack. It’s jarring for sure, haha, but there are a number of different layers of deeper meaning and subtext to it and we really wanted to leave the interpretation of it up to the viewer, much like the larger album. On the other hand, “DAWN” as a listening experience is so uplifting and full of hope, that we wanted to do our best to use it as a source of inspiration and put a positive spin on how people are able to persevere and uplift one another in difficult times. Ultimately, we want people to take what they need from the record and find a certain sense of solace and relatability in it, which applies both sonically and visually.

Along with your Foreign Family Collective, why was Ninja Tune the right home for the album?

Ninja Tune has always been such an amazing indie label, label partner, and support system for us as ODESZA. We’ve released our past few albums with them and couldn’t have had a better experience working with them. So we had that preexisting relationship, but that aside sonically, Ninja Tune has a history of fostering really cool, innovative electronic artists and we felt like the BRONSON project had a natural home there because of that.

What are BRONSON’s next steps now that the album is out?

As we mentioned before, we’re really keen to perform as BRONSON and build out the live show. That was all kind of put to a halt when the pandemic hit, so we’re crossing our fingers that it’s not too long before we can start thinking about that again. For the immediate, we’re just taking a moment to take a breath now that the album is out, and we’re really grateful for that.

Along with your Foreign Family Collective, why was Ninja Tune the right home for the album?

Ninja Tune has always been such an amazing indie label, label partner, and support system for us as ODESZA. We’ve released our past few albums with them and couldn’t have had a better experience working with them. So we had that preexisting relationship, but that aside sonically, Ninja Tune has a history of fostering really cool, innovative electronic artists and we felt like the BRONSON project had a natural home there because of that.

What are BRONSON’s next steps now that the album is out?

As we mentioned before, we’re really keen to perform as BRONSON and build out the live show. That was all kind of put to a halt when the pandemic hit, so we’re crossing our fingers that it’s not too long before we can start thinking about that again. For the immediate, we’re just taking a moment to take a breath now that the album is out, and we’re really grateful for that.

Cameron Holbrook is a staff writer for Beatportal. Find him on Twitter.



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