In conversation with Odyssea: The Manchester Uni band to listen to on your walk into uni

Manchester’s answer to London’s thriving jazz rap scene

The Manchester music scene has always had a particular kindness to classic indie and brit-pop groups, trying to fill the shoes of greats such as Oasis and the Stones. However, UoM student-band ‘Odyssea’ are here to flip Manchester on its head; spearheading a movement into the funky and laidback jazz-rap scene.

Odyssea have created a beautifully balanced post-jazz group displaying elements of soul, hip-hop and funk. The perfect soundtrack for a stroll into uni or an afters. Prior to the release of their debut EP, ‘Rain’, back in late 2022, they demonstrated they’re worth their salt, playing sold-out shows in Manchester favourites such as Night and Day Café, Haus, Fuel, Breadshed and so many more.

After listening to lead vocalist Emil’s buttery smooth lyrics on repeat for nearly 2 months, I decided I had to talk to the band to learn more about them and their thoughts on the Manchester student music scene. I asked Odyssea about their take on the scene right now and whether it lives up to the hype or whether its presence will always be overshadowed by the greats who came before.

The band told the Manchester Tab: “The Manchester music scene is popping right now. In the time we have been at uni, we have seen the emergence of a wonderful collective of bands spanning all different genres. There is your classic core of indie/brit-pop groups, and then there are some really cool genre-defying bands like tigers & flies and catbandcat who are creating something really innovative”.

I learned that the band see a special reimagining, a genre defiance emerging within the student band scene that is not ready to bow to the pressures of the city’s brit-pop past and it’s clear to see Odyssea’s soft spot for the underappreciated and under-recognized genres that have flown under the radar in recent years.

They made this particularly clear when questioned about their influences such as Parcels who are pioneering the reimagining of electronic funk culture. They describe a profound admiration for classic funk and disco-based influences whose spirits are being fanned back alive in the form of Manchester’s music scene.

It’s no secret that Manchester has a heavily DJ and rave-based music scene right now, especially with the emergence of Manchester’s warehouse project back in 2012. However, Odyssea are a perfect example of how Manchester student bands appear to be adapting to this changing landscape by providing a contemporary take on existing genres.

“I think this […] is something unique to Manchester, which has always been a home for live music, however in recent years they seemed to have fallen away a little bit as the student scene became dominated by DJs and electronic music. The last couple of years have seen it move back the other way, and this is in many ways thanks to the wonderful ‘Gigs and Bands Society’ and the platform they have given student bands.”

Manchester is renowned for its famed venue spaces coming in all shapes and sizes. You have the huge venues like Academy 2 and AO arena that have played host to legends such as Amy Winehouse, Jeff Buckley, and Pulp however over the years even Manchester’s smaller venues have been graced by the likes of Alex Turner and Johnny Marr.

Not only catering to the tried and tested, these small independent venues are also the beating heart of Manchester’s student band scene providing opportunities and events for student bands trying to show off their funky new material. Odyssea were quick to demonstrate their passion for Manchester’s very own Night and Day Café where they performed their first sold-out gig.

“Our favourite Gig venue is without a doubt Night & Day cafe – a beautiful venue in Northern Quarter with a great sound and even better vibe. We played our first gig there to a sold-out crowd and have played there twice since, as well as attending regularly to see other bands. Such a shame to hear all the issues that it’s going through, gentrifiers ruin everything good! #savenightandday because would be such a shame if this space were to be closed down due to people moving in who don’t understand the history of both the venue, and of Manchester as a musical bedrock”.

A band of this calibre doesn’t pop up often, especially without outside assistance and support and so I asked Odyssea if they had received any support to help establish such a firm foothold in the Manchester scene.

Their story rang true with many of the other student bands that have popped up in the last year; a dedication to Manchester University’s very own Gigs and Bands Society, captained by fan favourite Robbie Beale (thanks for the £170).

The band told us: “The uni itself doesn’t support us (though to be fair we haven’t really enquired about support). However, the aforementioned GABS show a lot of love and also provide a great space to meet other bands and musicians and just find something new. Big up Robbie Beale and everyone else who was a part of reinvigorating an almost non-existent society into one which now has its own festival and gigs all over Manchester. Our journey as a band has very much coincided with the journey of GABS, with our first gig in October 2021”.

For those of you who are only just discovering the student band scene, Odyssea are surely ones to keep your eye on. If you’re interested in looking to join a band or share your own tunes, or even just want to find like-minded students who share your love for live music, then reach out to the Gigs and Bands Society to find out more about their exciting events and opportunities as they are constantly providing quality evenings of student-led gigs and events which are always a solid night out.

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