By Andrew Gospe
Special to The Seattle Times
It’s only taken Odesza 18 months to achieve the kind of stature that takes most musicians years.
Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills started playing together in spring 2012, the end of their senior years at Western Washington University. Each had been making electronic music independently, but they immediately meshed. Their individual styles — futuristic sample-based beats for Mills and gauzy, bass-centric dance music for Knight — formed the basis of Odesza’s sound.
That August they released the self-produced, full-length album “Summer’s Gone,” which quickly gained acclaim on the Internet. Tours with Northwest electronic acts Beat Connection and Emancipator soon followed, as did spots on the summer music-festival circuit in 2013, including Sasquatch! and Capitol Hill Block Party.
Now they’re playing the biggest shows of their brief career: a string of arena dates opening for big-name producer Pretty Lights, which hits the ShoWare Center in Kent Friday.
“This whole year has been a giant blur,” Mills said.
Knight attributes the duo’s rapid rise — and its ability to get noticed amid the vast sea of self-released electronic music on the Internet — to hard work.
“I think it has to do with a lot of luck, knowing people and working our asses off,” he said. “Right when we released ‘Summer’s Gone,’ we spent three weeks, probably 12 or 15 hours a day, just emailing as many people as we could. We’ve been on the grind ever since.”
This work ethic extends to the studio. On “My Friends Never Die,” an EP released in September, their production skills make a huge jump. The pair says it spent hours watching YouTube videos and reading articles about production techniques. It shows: Everything sounds clearer and fuller, and, crucial for a group that now plays arena-sized stages, the drums and bass hit harder.
For its live show, Odesza performs with two MacBooks and MIDI controllers, triggering and modulating individual parts from its songs. Knight primarily handles bass and drums, and Mills controls most of the synthesizers and melodies.
The latter are typically sampled vocals, chopped up and warped into a new, semi-recognizable context; “Without You,” from their new EP, flips a prominent sample of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” into an ebullient, helium-voiced reverie.
Pretty Lights now tours with a full band, and though Mills and Knight say they have no such plans in the near future, they’ve entertained the idea of incorporating live drums and keyboards.
“With where we are right now, as opening acts, you don’t have a lot of time to soundcheck,” Mills said. “We like to keep things as portable as possible.”
If Odesza stays on its current trajectory, however, it won’t be an opening act much longer.
7:30 p.m. Friday, ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St., Kent; $32.75-$35 (866-973-9613 or www.ShoWareCenter.com).
Andrew Gospe: @gospea