If you don’t know ODIE, it’s time to change that. Immediately. After posting a few tracks online back in 2015, ODIE caught the eye of Soulection, who saw evidence of his enthralling vocal range and meditative lyrics. Since then, he has been releasing singles and opening for Aminé as he prepares for his debut project, Analogue, out tomorrow. He describes the project as coming-of-age piece of work—more experimental and more accessible. “I want people to get a glimpse of who I am,” he says. “I want them to see me in my purest form.”

Now, his overdue spotlight has turned up to full brightness. Eager to find out more about the track and life in general, we caught up with our new favourite songwriter to chat identity, overthinking and what’s to come.

How did music first become a part of your life?

I was born in Montreal but moved to Toronto when I was two years old. I spent the majority of my life there, then moved to the Bay Area right before high school. My parents are first generation immigrants from Nigeria so they had a big influence on the music I listened to as a child. Fela Kuti is still my favourite African musician and he means so much to me. Growing up, I started listening to Coldplay and then Kid Cudi came about and I went off. When I was in school I didn't think about music as actively as I think about it now, but looking back, I can see that it was really important to me. I was always doing something musical whether it was consciously or subconsciously; I would always be thinking of beats or humming something.

What do you think makes you unique compared to other artists out right now?

I'm just not scared to do anything. One of the things I pride myself in is how I draw from so many different genres. Because I listen to everything from electronic, alternative, hip hop and grunge, when I get to the stage of making my own music, I don't worry about fitting into a specific box. I'll make a really slow folk song one day and then a hardcore rap song the next day. I don't limit myself; I just make whatever I feel like making. And so every time I make something, it sounds brand new to me.

Do you think there's any particular reason why your music has gained more traction in the past six months or so?

I had a couple songs that did really well in 2015 – I did a remix of "Senorita" that got picked up on Soulection and a few others on my SoundCloud. I think the reason it's picking up now is that I didn't just run with them. My team and I had this vision for me as an artist and things we wanted to do together. We knew the music we were making was good, but we also knew we could make better art. We literally just hunkered down for two and a half years, made music all day every day, went to the studio straight after school, and just made a bunch of new shit until we finally got to a point where we were happy with the music we were making. After that, everything just happened naturally and we made a ton of really organic connections. We've worked so hard on the music that everything now is just sort of falling into place.

How do you feel like moving around between Toronto and the Bay Area impacted you and your music?

I think it was the main reason why I can make the music I make. And I think it’s the trend that's happening in society. The idea of a genre is being blurred by so many artists in this day and age, mainly because of the internet and globalization. Being raised in Toronto was so crucial though, because I lived in Scarborough, which is a super multicultural community, so no matter what, I couldn't escape seeing different cultures, that was just the norm. Daily I interacted with people who lived life differently from the way we did so I ended up being influenced by different cultures … inevitably, that ends up bleeding into my music.

I also think it made me more aware of different people. Because I was able to travel and live in different areas, it helped me understand people and why they do the things they do. And because of that, I was able to understand myself a bit better, too. Luckily the Bay Area and Toronto are sort of on the same wavelength in terms of openness and culture, but in general, I learned that you can be whoever you wanna be, and you can be influenced by whatever you wanna influenced by.

On "Crescendo" you talk a little bit about fearing the lonely mind, that really caught my attention. What were you thinking of when you wrote this?

When you think about things too much, there's no way that you can have a positive thought. The more you think about something, the more doubt arises. I tend to get into these mind traps where I try to calculate the endless possibilities of certain situations and I'm always wondering, “What if this happened” or, “What if that didn't happen”... I'm in my head a lot and it's both a blessing and a curse because I get to analyze situations really well but then I sometimes go over that threshold and start doubting myself.

I can fully relate to that, I think a lot of us do. How do you cope with that though, especially as an artist? The pressure is only gonna increase, so the self-doubt will likely follow, too.

I think we just gotta learn how to not be scared of doing something new. It's really hard especially because on the internet people will say whatever they wanna say, they don't care, they'll hide behind their screens and talk shit. Once you learn how to not give a fuck, that's when you win. I'm still learning how to do that; I think we're all still learning how to do that in our own right. Not everything I put out is gonna be perfect, but I try to learn from my mistakes and work towards it.

Your first full project, Analogue, is coming out tomorrow. What are you hoping to achieve from this debut project?

This is the first time I'm really sharing my full artistry, so I just want people to get a glimpse of who I am for the most part. Both for my fans and for people who have maybe heard one of my songs but don't really know who I am. In this project, I want to establish myself as an artist and let people know that this a very raw piece of work, but it's only the beginning. There might be some songs in there that are left field but ultimately, I want people to see me in my purest form. I'm going to keep evolving and growing.

I see the project as a coming-of-age story for me. I started making it when I was 18 and I'm finishing it now at age 21. It touches on different things, but it's the process of me figuring out who I am. Me figuring out how to do the things I want to do and overcome doubt and pressures I dealt with. I think ages 18 to 21, while it's such a short period of time, it's a very important stage of forming identities. So this is an illustration of how I created my identity and the beginning of when I became conscious of who I wanted to be. The project is essentially a summary of the feelings of joy, heartbreak, bliss that I’ve experienced in the last couple of years.

Being from Europe, I feel like people don't put too much focus on identity over here, but when I got to America ‘identity markers’ were a huge thing. Did you experience any type of cultural shock of sorts, going from a multicultural city like Toronto to a more homogenous area of California?

Yeah I mean what I’d say is that those identity markers or labels don't really mean shit at the end of the day. Your background and where you're from, those are all really important factors into making you who you are, but the most important thing at the end of the day is who you are as a person. At the end of the day, I'm always gonna be learning and evolving, I'm not gonna be the same person that I was yesterday. The most important thing to me is that I'm ODIE, take it or leave it.

I tend to feel a lot more free when I don't let myself get too attached to labels.

Exactly. Maybe one identity marker means more to you than another, but all of those facets of identity come together to form who you are. I think a lot of people get lost in labels and definitions and that's why there's a lot of talk about that. I think people need to understand that labels don't mean shit if you're unapologetically who you are.

How did you feel on stage when you first started performing?

It was very different. I always imagined myself performing, but being on stage is a different feeling. I think a lot of the time I get nervous before I go on stage but then once I'm performing, I get in the zone and it's the purest form of me expressing myself. I'm getting more and more comfortable on stage. When I start touring for my new project I'll definitely want to include more of a visual experience to it because my music spans so many different emotional levels. When I do a show, I just try to let out as much energy as possible. I want to portray the music in its purest form and I want to make sure every show the fans leave invigorated and inspired.

After Analogue comes out, what can we expect?

We've been working on visuals for the project, the first one is coming out very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that. On the side, I've also been working on writing a few short films, so hopefully one of those will be finalized and released this year. I think the music that we're making is so visceral that it needs something visual with it, so we've been working really hard to make sure they are perfect. When they do come out, they'll be very ethereal but still relevant.

Pre-order Analogue here.