Odessa can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making music. She first started playing the violin at age four and went on to perform at Carnegie Hall by age 14. Odessa spent some time touring with various groups playing violin, but made the move to go solo a few years ago. She released her eponymous album in 2015. The California native currently lives in Los Angeles. Besides being an accomplished violinist, she dabbles in a good number of other instruments like, guitar, bass, keys and more. Odessa describes her work as personal, honest, and ethereal. She garners inspiration from heaven, the people she loves, and just everyday life. She’s also a pretty incredible visual artist. Odessa’s journey with music (and life in general) has been far from easy. She’s had to overcome things like stage fright and moments when she was ready to give up music entirely. Luckily for you and her fans, she since promised herself to never quit. You can find her music on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Can you talk about your journey with music and what it means to you?
It’s been a forever journey. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing violin, and then as the years went by I would pick up my Dad’s guitar and play, or sit and pick notes out on the piano in our living room. Learning to play the violin, to master that instrument, and then deal with stage fright, and all the feelings of performing, and then to rise and soar in the music above everything, inside the music, this is the greatest feeling. Through every stage, and every hard time, and happy time, music has lifted me, and making music has been a way for me to process experiences.
Can you take us through your music career and give insight into any learning moments you experienced?
I always thought I would be a classical violinist, but then I realized I wanted to make my own music. So, I began exploring, playing in bands, and improvising. That led to a move to Nashville, TN. I learned a lot about who I was living there, so far from home in California. I discovered how I like to live.
Some heavy things happened in my early twenties, and I began to write my own lyrics and music that was very personal to me. It took several years to formulate these ideas into actual songs. I learned how persevering pays off 100 percent—and to not give up on something because it’s difficult for you. Since then I have put out my debut album on Republic Records, and am currently working on my second Record which I will be self-releasing this fall.
Now, I feel like I am learning a whole new chapter of lessons. One is to not rush things, let creativity happen slowly if it needs to, and to enjoy the journey.
Tell us about one memorable experience from your years touring on the road.
Once I was on tour in New York. I was out playing solo opening for someone. It had been a particularly rough tour, and I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I had spent the night prior in a closed airport bathroom standing under the hand dryer for warmth waiting for my gate to open in the morning.
Other things in my personal life were going wrong, and I was just feeling as though I wasn’t making any sort of impact being out there killing myself every day on the road. I had that night off in NY. I tried to fall asleep, but I couldn’t. So, I took a long night run through Washington Square Park. There was something evil trying to get at me. I really wanted to quit. I was tired of the insecurity of living this way, I was tired of looking at my depleting bank account, and I was tired of being alone every night on tour. That night was Webster Hall. The place was packed. I had called my lawyer that day and asked him why I was doing this with my life. He had no answers but assured me that I wasn’t the only artist who had felt this way. That night I decided it would be my last show.
I got extra prepared for the occasion. In the green room, I put on a white dress and confidently did my makeup in front of the six smelly guys I was on tour with. As I walked out on stage the crowd began cheering and yelling things like “We love you,” “Thank you,” “You are so beautiful”—even before I started to play. It was as though every single person in the audience was a radiant angel. I have never before felt such an outpouring of love and support from an audience. It’s as if they all knew that I needed encouragement. The whole show I felt like I was flying, and that we were all one. It was the very reason why I continue to fight through my stage fright, and keep playing music. These beautiful people helped me understand that we are all the same. We are all fighting to live good lives, and I’m sure lots of them hadn’t had great days, but they still showed up to see me play, and it was magical. As I walked home that night after the show, I thought “I’ll never quit.” I can’t.
I saw some of your visual art on your Instagram, @thisisodessa. Is your visual art inspired by the same stuff as your musical work?
I think it generally all comes from the same place.
How is your experience creating visual art and music different or similar?
It’s the same in that I usually have one small burst of pure inspiration followed by minutes, sometimes hours or days, and occasionally, years—haha—of creating around that one little idea. If it’s meant to be, it will turn into a finished song or picture.
I saw a video of your hotel room contours. Do you sketch each room you stay in?
I did once on a tour in Europe last year. It was a nice way to get used to my room.
Do you have a go-to place to write?
I don’t really—just somewhere where my imagination can run. I can write anywhere if I feel very comfortable in that place.
If you could have dinner with any three musicians, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Bach because he was a musical genius, Justin Bieber because I unashamedly love his voice and music, and Brian Wilson because he is wonderful.
What book are you reading right now?
A book my step-dad gave me called Johnny Cash: The Life.
How do you want this world to be different because you lived in it?
I want people that I have known, or who have heard my music, to feel more confident in themselves, and more loved.
What keeps you up at night?
The future, and new ideas, and silly worrying.