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Interac interviews Odreii

Unleashing creativity: An artist explains how financial freedom allows her to unleash her art

Singer-songwriter Odreii is a chameleon in many ways. Born to a Quebec mother and a Jamaican father, she grew up speaking both French and English, living first in Montreal and then in London UK. She is now back in Montreal, releasing her debut album, Sweatin' Gold, in late 2021. Having grown up listening to a lot of reggae, she describes her music as a mix of Caribbean, pop rnb and acoustic sounds. We sat down with her to talk about her journey as an artist, her creative process and the financial challenges she faces in the music industry.

A multi-faceted artist

Music didn't come out of nowhere in Odreii's life: it plays an important role in her family. Her father and aunt were reggae and heavy metal performers, respectively, and her mother is an avid reggae fan: this has fueled Odreii's passion for music. From a young age, she sought out every singing competition and talent show she could find, before studying music in London on a scholarship at a renowned music school. Odreii began to take singing and songwriting more seriously after the school's director encouraged her to pursue her passion, as he saw great potential in her talent.

Odreii's music has evolved and been shaped by the cities she grew up in. While London's music school taught her the technique and discipline that helped make her the artist she is today, Montreal's vibrant and multicultural music scene inspires her to experiment with her music and push her artistic boundaries in new ways.

"Montreal is very multicultural, for me it's very diverse musically. I think it's a city that is very experimental and not afraid to create something new, to explore musically. I think that definitely played a role in how I approach music. There are no rules, we try, let's go! It's more creative. London gave me more structure: that's where I learned the techniques. Working in the studio with producers and a lot of different artists, I learned to write for other people and for myself, and to work collaboratively. It shaped my more technical side," she explains over the phone, to the backdrop of vibrant reggae music.

Creative Mode Solutions

Being an artist can be financially challenging in many ways: the costs of instruments, hiring musicians for gigs and booking studio time can quickly add up. Fortunately for her, Odreii loves learning new things, whether it's an instrument, software, or technique, and she takes challenges in stride, which helps her find creative solutions to overcome them.

She recounts a recent instance where she had a show coming up, but didn't have the funds to hire a band or DJ to accompany it. To save on those costs, she learned how to use Ableton Live, a music software in just three weeks, which proved to be an invaluable investment: "I was desperate to be able to perform and have control over the show, and I learned how to use software I didn't know. I was loaned a MIDI controller (a versatile tool that transforms into the instrument of your choice) and created my show on the device."

Her best investor: herself

Speaking of investments, time isn't the only resource Odreii spends investing in her music. Her passion drives her to constantly reinvest her own money into her art to push it further. When asked about her financial goals, her answer is simple: she wants to earn more money so she can continue to invest in her music.

She explains that Interac plays an important role in this, as she often pays out of pocket when she buys and rents new instruments and software, or hires coaches; the Interac e-Transfer service not only gives her easy access to them, but also the ability to choose exactly who she wants to work with. "Some coaches don't take any payment other than Interac e-Transfer, and these are the people who might be the most important to me in order to finish my project. It's an efficient way to work, and it allows me to access their services quickly," she explains.

Authenticity above all

Finances aside, Odreii's biggest challenge is the business side of her artistic endeavors, whether it's making sure her music reaches as many people as possible or mastering the new social media platforms and algorithms. Her mantra is to stay as authentic as possible and focus on her passion.

She explains how she stays motivated, "I always feel strong and confident on a day-to-day basis. It's a multi-year job, I'll admit. What motivates me and puts a smile on my face is listening to something I love, or even just stepping outside and having the sun hit my face after not seeing it for a long time, it's motivating. Listening to music that I love, or discovering something new, that I love that too."

She loves going through the creative process of writing new music, including practicing guitar, improvising and jamming with other musicians, and working in the studio, but her creative process doesn't stop there. Her in-person performances, and her connection with the audience, are also a big part of her art: she likes to reinvent herself and adapt her music to the context of the stage. "Live is me vibing with people, it's a raw connection. I have a song, HEAT, that I love to perform live. We changed it the way I recorded it. I took it up an octave at the beginning, and I almost sing it a cappella in a more theatrical mode, and then I get into the song. I'm having fun, and it gives a more dramatic effect on stage. The last thing I want to do is be tired of singing a song."

A singer-songwriter who works to continue to love her music and keep it evolving keeps her audience wanting more. Odreii's passion for music and thirst for new experiences is sure to fuel a highly entertaining sophomore release, which she reveals she has already begun planning. She is a singer-songwriter to follow, and listen to, closely.

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