April 20, 2016

Vulnerability is Powerful: An Interview with Kylie Odetta

Eighteen-year-old singer/songwriter Kylie Odetta emerges from the din of pop stardom to reveal a serious talent with her most recent EP, High Dreamer, having consciously pared down its production by complementing her vocals with discreet, often piano-based arrangements.

Moments like “Let Me Love You” and “I Can’t Erase It” are intoxicating, conjuring the sort of hushed intimacy that artists like Norah Jones and Corinne Bailey Rae have cultivated so well in recent years. Put another way, Odetta commands the listener’s rapt attention in ways that are at once empathetic and achingly tender.

“Being vulnerable is a very powerful thing,” Odetta said recently, calling while traveling with her family from her home in Greenville, South Carolina to Augusta, Georgia. “I don’t have a fear of being too vulnerable. I think that can only allow me to connect with people more.”

For her music to reflect and resonate with such emotional honesty, Odetta acknowledges the need to be honest with herself. “I’ve found that I cannot write good songs when I’m happy,” she conceded. “I have to be feeling something that’s really digging at me. Songwriting is a way to get it out of me, and then I’m happy again.”

Of course, as plenty of other artists have discovered the hard way, what’s good for creativity may not always be good for maintaining a healthy day-to-day existence. As Odetta explained, however, her darkest moments are balanced by her spiritual beliefs, wherein she finds solace. “I believe in God,” she said. So there’s always a battle going on inside of me, of the artist in me wanting to just live in that sad or angry state and stay there for a while and look at all those emotions and indulge in it; and the other side of me that knows that everything’s okay in the end and that I’m going to be okay.

“Sometimes,” she added, “it’s difficult to choose which mental path I want to take.”

Her faith doesn’t explicitly inform the music she makes, as Odetta says she hopes to reach more listeners than perhaps she would if she were a quote, unquote Christian artist. Indeed, facilitating a fundamental bond with an audience was Odetta’s main goal for High Dreamer all along, she said, “and it transformed into something that I feel is so true to myself as an artist and the most real thing I’ve put out yet.”

For more information, please visit Kylie Odetta online.