VMP and Oda have worked, in their own ways, to share timeless music and elevate artists. In celebration of our August Essentials ROTM, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, we’re bringing our experiences and Oda’s technology together and giving VMP members access to a live performance by Glenn-Copeland. Read on to learn more about Oda, the partnership and the performance.
Photos by Richard Edens
While music technologies have constantly evolved — both in the way it is produced and consumed — we continue to seek the most rudimentary way of accessing music. And despite having more access than ever, our favorite artists seem to always have sold-out shows. We keep a keen eye on tours, hoping one of their destinations is a stone’s throw away. Facing artists in their most raw state, embracing the nuances of whatever mistakes they make, or the pure expression of inflections heard in each live performance, is an unrivaled experience.
In 2016, Phil Elverum of The Microphones, also known as Mount Eerie, made the difficult announcement that he would no longer be performing live shows. Elverum’s close friend and devoted fan, Nick Dangerfield, viewed this as an immense loss to the musical world. Elverum’s performances touched hearts and souls in the most intimate way, and the news prompted Dangerfield to ponder: How have we not been able to remotely bridge the gap between performer and audience in a way that retains the feeling of intimacy?
While technologies and websites offered livestreaming experiences, like YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Twitch and others, each seemed to arise with their own complications. For older and disabled artists, for example, these platforms might not always be so intuitive or accessible. Moreover, none seemed to be able to capture the same intimacy the way any live performance actually did. Dangerfield sought to create a method and technology that could sit in homes and unite artists and audiences. So, he created Oda.
The Oda system thrives in simplicity, both in its design and its function. On the backend, Oda gives its roster of artists a microphone which turns on during the performance, sending a signal directly to the speakers. The speakers were designed with performers and artists in mind, and their sound mimics the acoustics of a live performance, akin to if the artists were occupying the room with you, playing a private show within the confines of your home.
“These types of Bluetooth smaller systems tend to focus a lot more on volume and on strength, but you can say that they tend to overlook that mid range where the expressivity of music lies, which is the voices, the guitars or the horns and all that space,” Dangerfield said. “So, [the Oda system is] very much designed for the type of music that we produce. These are very delicate, and they’re very dimensional. They create this very tangible stereo representation of the performer.”
The speakers work in tandem with Oda’s membership, which allows audiences to access seasonal performances. At any given moment, the speakers can come alive with performances from Oda’s roster of artists, free of ads or interruptions. However, as previously noted, Oda thrives through simplicity, which includes the brevity of the performances. Once they happen, they’ve happened.
“The belief for us is that it is only live and live only. It creates a higher level of commitment [for] the audience,” Dangerfield said. “If there is a constant archive of all the performances, I don’t think that we would be successful in getting your attention. Because then, it becomes this list of media — things that you want to see, read, watch or listen to later — that we have so many [of] already.”
He likened Oda performances to the process of listening to vinyl. With vinyl, customizing the turntable, picking out old records and dropping the needle to catch the music’s grooves is a ritual in itself. And, like live performances, vinyl has withstood the test of time and musical evolution. While cassettes, CDs and MP3 players have phased out in favor of widespread access through music streaming services, the act of collecting vinyl and listening to its warm sounds continues to persist. With both Oda and VMP deeply connecting audiences to musical experiences that may otherwise be lost to time came the opportunity to bring VMP listeners an exclusive performance by VMP Essentials’ August artist, Glenn-Copeland.
Oda will provide digital access to VMP’s members. Over the course of three days, from August 4 to 5, Glenn-Copeland will perform and take listeners through a private journey of his life.
“What to expect is a surprise, and it will be a surprise to you as well as it is to us. There is a lot that has been left unwritten,” Dangerfield shared. “[Glenn-Copeland] was very generous in taking us through a long, long journey of his life, going through different memories and singing pieces of music over the years. I know that this time, Glenn will also take us to listen to the ocean.”
Such everyday, little moments are part of what establishes the connection between artist and listener — the connection that Dangerfield sought to form when he created Oda.
Dangerfield continued, and said, “This might sound a bit lofty, but you’re spending a day or two with the artists as if we were kind of a guest in their home. You listen to the sounds of their domesticity. You hear the sounds of the birds in their backyard. I love all these different elements. I think that these are elements that help a bit in bringing us closer, beyond the actual performance. It’s going to be a combination of some of these elements.”
He pondered for a moment, considering the unrestrained, unpredictable elements that exist with live performances. “I think that it is good to remember that it’s always live, so there are always things that we didn’t even expect to happen. And those surprises, those moments that are off script, are all very enjoyable as well. Know that it is the virtue of life that it is unwritten.”