Barely Alive Take Listeners for a Ride with ‘Odyssey’
Barely Alive Take Listeners for a Ride with ‘Odyssey’

Following up their first album, We Are Barely Alive, the massively respected duo known as Barely Alive showcase their highly anticipated 14-track sophomore album, Odyssey. As they take on much more of an experimental approach to writing, Barely Alive serve up a project touching on an array of sounds that effortlessly marry an unmistakable influence of all things ’80s with their top notch technical approach. From start to finish, Barely Alive give listeners their absolute best—and it certainly does not disappoint!

Showcasing collaborations ranging from new artists like Great Good Fine OK and Mad Hed City to working with some revisited artists like Splitbreed, Odyssey has something for new and well-seasoned fans alike. With so much hype surrounding the album’s release, we caught up with the dynamic duo and dig for some behind the scenes info. And while you’re here, make sure to grab your copy of Odyssey.

Congrats on a huge masterpiece! Where did you guys pull the inspiration for this album?
There are so many things about life and culture that inspire us when we’re creating music—everything from seeing the energy of a live crowd banging their heads to dubstep, to hearing an amazing soundtrack in an ’80s action movie. We see music as a massive canvas on which we can paint all sorts of crazy pictures and there are a lot of happy accidents in the process. Yep, Bob Ross is a big inspiration for us!

It’s probably evident that the decade of the 1980s played a big role in the musical and visual style of the whole album. We love the sound of the ’80s because everyone was just getting into synthesis for the first time, using drum machines and other equipment in brand new ways. All the music had such a light and experimental vibe that’s really fun!

Through the whole project, there is a heavy influence on retro vibes while also maintaining your signature sound. What was your writing process like?
A lot of the retro-sounding stuff on the album is just the tip of the iceberg for us. In between writing all the bass music, we like to write songs with just synth chords and melodies because it’s rarely the focus of a bass music track. It’s almost a therapeutic experience, as well as fun practice.

For this album, we decided to take a lot of those side sketches and really put the extra effort into finishing them as if it were a regular Barely Alive track. In the end, every track on the album proved to be just as challenging as the next for us. It’s always handy to get feedback from our fans by playing unfinished WIPs out at our shows as well. For the non-club tracks, all we could really do is play the tracks for our friends, which was awesome because people seemed really into it and gave us great feedback and advice.

There is lots of diversity on the album. Tell us about the journey you’re hoping to take listeners on as they listen from start to finish.
Odyssey is definitely intended to be just that, an odyssey. We wanted to write something that people could sit down in their living rooms and listen to all the way through, or maybe play off a Bluetooth speaker in the background at a party. Whenever we make our own “Jams” playlists for ourselves we pull from all sorts of genres and decades, rather than just modern hip-hop or just dubstep or just house music. Since we tried to nail a ton of different styles spanning from the 1980s to the present day, it’s almost like a cohesive playlist of just “fun music” that doesn’t necessarily have to be completely homogenous. If you want to get really metaphorical, just look at the album cover! Imagine yourself flying through space-time in a Delorean, stopping by your favorite years, and sampling the various sounds of that era before blasting off to 88 MPH again.

We believe that an artist's fanbase can define them, and we hope that we can find listeners who are as open-minded and passionate about all kinds of music as we are.

Do you have a favorite track of the album?
The standout track on this album would probably be “Deeper In Love,” as it was the first track we chose for the album that wasn’t really club material. Once we got back the vocals from Great Good Fine OK, we were so incredibly stoked that we felt more confident to take the album in a totally new direction. The track(s) we did with Iamsu! were really fun as well because we started out as bedroom hip-hop producers and have always wanted to work with a rapper of his caliber.

What are you hoping your fans get from this album?
Just a bit of everything We know a lot of our fans are waiting for more dubstep bangers, and we respect that so we didn’t hold back in that category with tracks like “Wompum” and “Know Bout Me.” But at the same time, we want to express our love for all different types of music by writing our own. It’s always been really important to us to branch out and try new things and we want our fans to know that this is what we truly love to do. We believe that an artist’s fanbase can define them, and we hope that we can find listeners who are as open-minded and passionate about all kinds of music as we are.

How do you think Odyssey stands apart from all the other projects you’ve come out with?
With our first album We Are Barely Alive, we wanted to cover a lot of ground in the bass music spectrum with a ton of different tempos on it, but it was all bass music. It was really experimental in that regard, but with Odyssey, we wanted to go even further. All the new bass music feels like some of the heaviest we’ve ever produced, while we’ve been able to finally showcase some of the other styles that we’ve always been writing for fun, which is missing from our previous projects.

From now on, albums are never going to be the same again! We love writing EPs that are ready for DJs out-of-the-box, and we won’t stop doing that, but with 14 tracks to work with, we will always take advantage of the opportunity to write some cool music regardless of how many people are gonna put it in their RekordBox.

Any last words or shout out you want to leave us with before we wrap things up here?
Massive thanks to Bassrush for being a pillar of the music scene! There’s no competition when it comes to bass parties and that’s something very special to us. Shout out to our parents for being supportive of us and not trying to convince us to get real jobs—or at least not trying too hard! And of course, we have so much love for Disciple, which started out as our first label we signed to and has become our family over so many years. We’ve had nothing but support and help from them when it comes to realizing our artistic visions and we never take that for granted!

Lastly and most importantly, thanks so much to all our listeners who have showed so much love for everything we’ve been doing recently. The album has only been out for a few hours today and already, we’re seeing so much love from our fans and friends alike—it’s really awesome! This feels like the biggest year for us yet!