Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics Have Plenty Of New Music To Share

Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics headline the first instalment of The Hoopla Sessions. Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics headline the first instalment of The Hoopla Sessions.

Prepare yourselves for the explosive, dynamite sound of the freshest old-school soul-funk (think Motown, Verve and Stax labels) this side of the Indian Ocean when Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics return to the stage.

Set to headline a new live music series 'The Hoopla Sessions' – brought to you by the folks behind Fairbridge Festival – later this month in Fremantle, frontwoman Ofa Fotu sits down for a chat.

What's the latest news from the band?
With the pandemic, we delayed the release of a few singles and an album. Now it feels like things are slowly coming back.

To start off the rollout we have a remix with local dub duo Charlies Flat paired with a pretty special live gig. Keep an eye out for that one. Post that, we have a lot to release so 'prepare to be sick of me'.

Lyrically, what's inspiring your current songwriting, themes you're exploring deeper?
Jon Fernandes and I are co-founding members of the band and we work as a partnership. It's been really interesting more recently.

For example, Jon has come to writing sessions with inspiration from historical or true crime podcasts; or there has been a 'turn of phrase' he heard on a TV show. He might additionally have a 'hook' idea.

We jam and brainstorm together, relaying experiences in our lives about any of the themes that we're specifically drawn to and what feelings that are evoked.

I believe it's been a great way to ensure we're digging from a deeper place; from memories and experiences that aren't our go-to.

The band is headlining the first instalment of Fairbridge Festival's new series Hoopla Sessions at Freo.Social; what can punters expect from the evening?
A pretty awesome line-up to experience different types of artists. Everything from deep storytelling from different parts of WA, to bands that will have you tearing up the dance floor. I mean that's the Fairbridge Festival experience, isn't it?

Rod and the team have done an outstanding job to create line-ups that capture the spirit of the festival.

You'll be playing alongside Naomi Pigram and Anna Schneider; what can you share about either act?
What an honour to play alongside these artists. Naomi comes from such an iconic family in WA music. I remember hearing an interview with her where she spoke with such respect for her family lineage in music, but also had an energy about her contribution as an artist. It'll be a great opportunity to hear her story and songs. Super excited!

And Anna has a way of articulating her story with a vulnerability but also her strength. It's in her deliberate choice of lyrics and melody, and her haunting and sweeping voice all in one makes for such impact. Pretty rapt about this line-up.

The band's association to Fairbridge Festival; how strong do the roots lie?
Prior to the Soul Atomics I came to Fairbridge as a backing vocalist for other artists. I was brand new to singing publicly. Haha. And before that, I attended a few festivals as a punter.

Fairbridge Festival invests so much into giving opportunities to local artists at various points of their career a festival platform to share their music. Their audience trust in the programming, so it's been a great way to gain and keep new listeners.

I mean how's that youth programme?! A stage and area dedicated to youth and a competition hell bent on giving opportunities to young artists to work with experienced artists and encouraging them to use their voice in writing. We can always get on board for that.

A couple of years ago, the band covered Karnivool's 'All I Know'; what generally sparks an interest to cover another artist-band; and what's involved musically to rearrange the composition to a soul-funk version?
We come from a musical mishmash of backgrounds. Each and every member listens to lots of different genres of music. We don't like to do what's easy or expected.

Being a soul band it comes with so many expectations. We want to do stuff that challenges and teaches us, stuff that might challenge people's expectations.

We listen to the track over and over. We talk about what we envisage and can hear. As the Musical Director of the band, Jon transcribes it and then moulds it into form. We rehearse with the full band and see if any edits are needed.

For me with a cover, I have to find the melody that sits within the boundaries of what the original does, what brings our sound to it and a part that plays within all of the new parts.

Musically, what/ who is inspiring/ influencing you at the moment?
I'm answering this on behalf of Jon and myself. Nick Cave, SAULT, Yola, Pricilla, Joni Mitchell, Anderson. Paak, Avishai Cohen, Hiatus Kaiyote and as always any work by Gabriel Roth.

The last two years; we've all had to adapt to the changing landscapes and how we interact with each other; what are a couple of lessons learned during this time you'll use moving forward?
Within a creative partnership I feel pretty lucky because we have the opportunity to ebb and flow between when we're on or off.

I'd say keep working with like-minded/ spirited people. It can be pretty isolating as an artist and no doubt it felt amplified over the last two years. And if there's a time to make some risky choices/ experiment and try new sounds. . . leading to new creative pathways, this is a great time to do it.

Which fictional character best describes your personality?
Korg (from 'Thor') – "piss off ghosts".

Last show you binge-watched?
'Our Flag Means Death' and 'Death In Paradise'.

What's the one chore you dislike the most?
Cleaning the toilet and removing sticky dust from on top of cupboards in the kitchen.

If you had to live in a city abroad, where would you choose and why?
London. I love sad weather and live for high density creative experiences.

Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add?
Don't forget to support and buy from artists direct where possible. Buy from your local record and music stores. Barter and swap where possible. :)

Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics play Albany Entertainment Centre 9 June, The Fire Station (Busselton) 11 June and The Hoopla Sessions (presented by Fairbridge Festival) at Freo.Social (Fremantle) 26 June.



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