One of the most successful soul/disco acts of the late 70s/80s, Odyssey have topped the charts with ‘Use It Up And Wear It Out’ around the world. Their dance floor anthems are played everywhere to this day including favourites such as ‘Native New Yorker’, ‘If You’re Looking For A Way Out’, ‘Inside Out” and the Lamont Dozier classic ‘Going Back To My Roots’. With the original members no longer with us, son Steven Collazo now helms the band and with a great Live set up they are always on the road at festivals and concerts. Here we catch up with Steve ahead of the hotly anticipated live performance from Odyssey at the Summer Soulstice Festival 15th Anniversary on Saturday June 25th alongside Soul II Soul, Hil St Soul, Lukas Setto and Chris Ballin (Incognito).
“It’s said that ‘old school’ is today’s ‘new school’ and we’ve been working to combine the best of both worlds into today’s Odyssey, introducing the brand to a whole new generation of enthusiasts who grew up with their music while remaining faithful to the group’s core audience.
It’s a pleasure to catch up with you and one of disco’s greatest bands, how would you best describe what Odyssey does Live and what people can look forward to at your exclusive performance at Summer Soulstice on Saturday June 24th.
Well, it has to be said, we are the party band! And that’s what we do at all of our gigs – create an atmosphere where folks can get their groove on, sing along with the hits or listen to serious playing and singing. We always have a great time when we perform and it always seems to be infectious, no matter where we go.
Known for some of the biggest dance floor hits of all time from ‘Native New Yorker’ to ‘Use It Up & Wear It Out’ and ‘Going Back To My Roots’, can you tell us about some of your most monumental experiences performing these amazing tracks and where were you and to whom?
This has always been a tough question; there’ve been so many monumental experiences over the years, but just lately, the one which stands out most was an all-day Soul gig in Essex. More than twelve thousand people on the very first day that Covid restrictions were lifted and it was phenomenal, emotional a huge relief, and a sense of utter disbelief of what we’d all been through. Never to be forgotten.
Originally started by the Lopez Sisters – Lilian and Louise – Lillian’s eldest son, Steven Collazo now leads the band who’s currently on the lineup, what’s life like in the band now the pandemic has eased back. Are you touring heavily again and where?
Actually, Odyssey began as a family group… A means to pay the rent and a vehicle for our ambitions in the music industry. I’ve been a part of the lineup since its inception behind the scenes as keyboardist, musical director and backing vocalist. Under my stewardship, I engage different professional vocalists and musicians who understand and embrace the spirit and legacy of Odyssey. Since the pandemic has eased, besides catching up with several postponed shows, demand for our show at a variety of events and venues has skyrocketed! We’re very proud and equally gratified that so many people enjoy what we do.
With such a classic arsenal of songs you’ve worked with different producers such as Dimitri from Paris, Louie Vega, Ashley Beedle and John Morales, can you talk us through how you came to work with these guys. Do you have a favourite remix, and why does that one stand out?
Primarily, because of the broad and diverse range of gigs we do, we come across many world-class DJ Producers and generally make a point of meeting them! John Morales, as a partner of the inimitable team M&M (with Sergio Munzibai), did the very first extended mix of ‘Native New Yorker’ so we’ve known him a very long time. My favourite of many fantastic mixes and remixes is Dimitri from Paris’ Remix of Native New Yorker. He has a great talent for remixing the classics whilst leaving them pretty much as they are, simply by putting a different emphasis on instruments that are already in the track. Amazing…
Disco is feel-good music and continues to influence and be heard on dance floors across the world, why do you think the sound is so special and long-lasting?
As you said, it’s “feel-good music”, as are its descendants’ house, garage and other forms of dance music. And where disco is concerned, it was all strings, horns, rhythm and songs by true musicians and some talented singers.
Established in the pantheon of music greats, what keeps driving you forward?
The legacy that is Odyssey is “Upward and… Upwards, the journey continues”.
Odyssey headlines the Summer Soulstice Festival 15th Anniversary on Saturday June 25th alongside Soul II Soul, Hil St Soul, Lukas Setto, Chris Ballin (Incognito) and hosted by Fat Freddie M and James Anthony. With the Main Stage and two more arenas with over 35 DJs, Soulstice runs from 11 am until 11pm at Old Elizabethans Memorial Playing Fields, Gypsy Corner, Mays Lane, Barnet EN5 2AG