As soon as you press play on Thoughts I Never Said by Odeal, know you are about to be taken on a journey. The nine-track EP displays thoughts, feelings, and emotions to which many people can relate. A self-reflection and analysis throughout the tapes sees Odeal opening up in a way he hasn’t before. It is one of the most emotionally raw and vulnerable EP’s I’ve listened experienced in a minute.

As part of his annual celebration of OVMBR, where he has released a project every November after going through a life-changing event, this particular OVMBR he is giving fans a peak into his life and his journey like never before. It is also a commentary on modern relationships and the experience of love from a 20 something navigation. From the struggles of emotional availability, insecurities, to being in love, self-love, and somewhat toxic love, he unpacks a lot across the project.

As somebody who has constantly evolved, this release is a further introspective and intimate look into himself. Apart from the lyrical content, the production has also elevated, with him being a producer himself. He teamed up with Fred Cox, Charlie Pitts, Emil, and others to bring out a sonic palette that elevated and enriched the tape from start to finish.

Speaking with Odeal over Zoom, we took a deep dive into the EP and spoke about love, modern-day relationships, emotional baggage, OVMBR, and more. 

First of all congratulations on creating such a special body of work, how do you feel about the project? 

I feel great, and like I’m about to enter a new chapter. Every release feels like a new part of me gets exposed to my supporters, and it feels like just a new chapter for everyone. When I listen to new music, it feels like it’s a new part of my life. It holds a special place in my life, so I can’t wait for people to hear this. It will take them to different places and start a new journey in their lives or a new journey with me. I worked on it for at least a year and a half now. I feel like I’ve left everything on it. I feel empty because I put everything creatively into that project, and I can’t wait for people to take it.

You release a project every year around this time of year, so you’re always in the studio, but when would you say this one began for you?

So, in early 2022, I was locked in with a producer called Fred Cox, a multi-instrumentalist, and for the first time, I was able to work with a producer who challenged me vocally. With me, I’m always as good as the people around me. So when we started working, we were making just incredible songs in general, just musical ones. If you’re a music nerd, the things that we’re doing, we’d get excited and inspired and just make music in general. I had some of the best songs I’ve ever made, and we had those in early 2022. So as time went on, I was talking to my manager, and I was like, I can’t lie, the songs that I made with Fred are going to represent my artistry in the best way, so we decided we were going to put them out and that we’d finish them. But as soon as they were completed, I started to have doubts, and I was just like, there’s one thing about showing off your artistry and showing off how great you can make the music to be, but I want people to feel me like how I feel right now. 

So then we started working on the project, and that was in late 2022; we started going back in and refining the songs and the songwriting, and even getting in with other producers who gave me that same feeling. We had about 6 or 7 songs on the project, but it felt like something other than me. Back then, I probably didn’t have any problems; I just cared about music and all of that, but I’ve gone through enough to express it in the music. 

So, the original project felt too far away from how I felt, and we worked on it for a year, making sure the lyrics and everything felt as close to home as possible. So we just kept working on the music until I could translate all of my feelings into the music. That was all based on situations in the past year and a half, like certain relationships. 

Your vulnerability is so honest and raw from top to bottom. How were you able to open up to write and express those emotions on the tape?

On a session level, every time we go into a session with the producers, we’d have a conversation for an hour about how we’re feeling. I’m very honest with my producers and tell them what’s going on, and we will have a conversation about it. And then whoever it is starts playing the instrument, probably like a guitar or piano, and before you know it, words start flowing. 

So it came out like that, and then I’ll flow with it, and I just keep pouring more and more into it and redefining it until it makes perfect sense. Letting the fans know where my head is at or where I’m at consciously is the best thing. Because then you have people who know you, it’s like nothing surprises them. You want them to feel that connection, be able to relate, be expressive, and be open. 

In the world we’re in right now, it’s very easy to be closed off and cold, not be self-aware, and go with the vibes. But it’s nice when you can walk into a room and start an honest conversation, and everyone’s engaged. So if I’m able to share those things, I’m going to have support as you can also share that kind of thing or be open to expressing it and knowing how they feel. They can listen to the lyrics and be like, damn, like, I felt like this, and this is probably why, or I didn’t know, it was common for other people to feel like this because people might not share that kind of thing. 

Also, one of the main things was praying. I’d always ask God to be able to translate my thoughts into lyrics. It’s easy to say anything in music, but like everything in my head, I feel like my head moves 100 miles per hour, and my thoughts are all over the place. But, like, I always pray that God can calm me down and allow me to translate everything in my head onto paper. So that was one big thing for sure. I can’t leave that out when I get to a session. That’s one thing I do for sure. 

The production on this tape plays a big part in the emotions and everything you feel, so even for you being a producer yourself and working with other producers and musicians, what was that experience?

As a producer myself, I knew that for a project like this, I knew that this was something I couldn’t do on my own. Sometimes you have to know when you can’t do something like you have to leave it to the people who know how to do it. I’m so glad I went in with a fantastic team of people who know that instrument well. So it was just a thing where every single time we were trying to push the boundaries, saying thing like we need to make this sound like if we were to perform it, we could perform it with an orchestra. In ‘Water’, you hear symphonies and different things that make it grand at the end. And that was the main thing. Let’s make it big, let’s go hard, but in times where we need to make it intimate, we make it intimate, strip it back. Just make it feel larger than life, so that was; that was it, to be honest, but yeah, the producers went crazy.

You are sincere and vulnerable across all of the songs, but which one was the most challenging in terms of capturing the song’s emotions?

It is between two, and there are two different types Fine By Myself was one because I’d made the intro to the pre-chorus and then I couldn’t get the course. I didn’t go back to do the chorus for about two months or three months. Whereas I’d be able to finish a lot of the songs in a session or two, that one took me about three months. It sounds huge until the chorus, but how do you now take it another level up and still capture the song’s meaning and then finish? I needed to be careful approaching it because it is also one of my favourites, so I took a step back and wasn’t actively thinking about it. I just put it set with me and chilled out, and when the time was right, I went back in, and we finished the song. 

Rigormortis was the hardest to write and put out because of how vulnerable that music was. I’m comfortable putting out music anyway. But even writing that song was very vivid, step by step. So, it was about how to make such a situation so clear in someone’s mind that they can even picture it. If they were to close their eyes and listen to the song, that was intense, but we made it happen.

I wanted to unpack some of the songs with you in terms of their meaning, and Rigormortis was one of them. So, what was the story behind that track? 

Rigor Mortis is a stage when a person is dead when the body stiffens up; it’s what’s used by forensic scientists to know a person’s time of death. When a body stiffens up, they see they’ll be able to know how long it was since they passed away. So Rigormortis was about the girl I was with who ended up sleeping with the boy she said was her best friend. So, at the beginning of the song, I’m like, “I’ve just seen my shadow for the first time in weeks, when it’s dark, it’s fall asleep.” And me being in my room for a couple of days, like closed curtains in the dark. I want to be in bed and not think about the situation that just happened. And I finally wake up to write a song about it. And then the song proceeds, and I’m telling her that she’s with a dead man walking, and I call him that. Because I’m going to kill him when I see him, so, you’re the dead man walking, but you call him your best friend, and if she’s been sleeping with a dead man, then she should have the smell of a corpse. So I’m saying she’s been stiff from the neck down. That’s the rigor mortis part, and when I’m next to her, I can smell the aroma and that somebody else has been in her life, so yeah, that’s where it came from. 

What about Water

So, the whole project was about me being with a girl in a situation where the girl was too scared to be with me because of my profession, which is that I’m a musician and the type of world I live in. She’s a bit scared of everything that happens and the possibility of it not going right because I’m an artist. However, I want to be with her, but she’s too scared to be in the situation. So, she pulls away, and you can hear her that in All That it Takes, I’m saying to her if that’s all it takes, she’s leaving the situation because she’s too scared. Meanwhile, the project continues now, and she has started to fall back in love with me. And by that time, she’s pushed away so much that I’m over it. So when she pulls closer, I pull away. And when I pull closer, she pulls away. So, on both sides, there’s a bit of anxiety getting into this situation, nobody wants to get hurt. So by the time you get to Water, I’m telling her that if I’m on a voyage, like on a ship, and in search of love, I feel lost at sea. Because, right now, I don’t even know where I’m going. I feel like I’m out here open, vulnerable, ready to make something happen, and I can’t even find her. I’m trying to find her. So it feels like imagine you’ve been in an ocean in the middle of nowhere and don’t even know what direction to go in. You’re looking for something but need to figure out where to go. That’s the situation. 

Tell me about the intro (Landmine), and what about this song made you want to start the project with it?

I’m saying she’s an angel in Landmine, but she’s got me stuck in a garden of landmines. For example, if we’re talking about the Garden of Eden, it is a peaceful place. But if the Garden of Eden has landmines all over it, it’s like you’re in a beautiful place, but you’re afraid to step freely because if you step on the wrong place, everything will blow up. So, how can an angel make me feel like I’m stuck in a garden of landmines? If you’re an angel, and if you’re this perfect person, why does it feel like I’m unable to be myself because you’re scared of my profession and what I do, but now I have to dance and tiptoe around everything that I do to make you feel comfortable? And it just doesn’t feel doesn’t feel natural. So that’s what landmines is, like this person you’re with, you have to be very careful because you don’t want to upset her breakup. She already has trust issues. In the beginning, I’m saying I’ve got hella options I know deep down, but they’re not you. I’m not coming into the situation saying there’s nobody there; I’m saying yes, they are options around 100%, But they’re not you. The level of love I have for you is not the same as that I have these people that you feel insecure about in my life. I’m trying to reassure her at the beginning. Like you, other people like other options, but only you.

What have you learnt love and relationships while working on the EP?

It’s about being honest; that’s one thing for sure. It’s about being able to say these things and having an uncomfortable conversation. That’s one thing: a lot of the time, from my choices, I’m not fully able to express myself. I like to keep things in the back of my mind and then keep things moving. But really, it is about taking care of that situation as early as possible and explaining how you feel in the moment instead of letting it sit in your mind. And all that stuff has to happen before you meet someone. Like, everyone has to be in a happy or suitable place. When you get into a situation like that, it will probably do more damage than you know; you guys weren’t together. This is going to affect some more things. 

With the title being Things I Never Said, does this mean this is the first time you’re expressing these feelings in public, or just first time in your music?

I would say it was the first time opening up about it in general. With the other situations had always in been surrounded by confusion and me not knowing what’s going on, and I’ve ignored the feelings. I wanted to make the project as close to me as possible. I went on a journey to self-reflect and ask myself certain questions about how I was feeling. I thought about how it made me feel and what my reactions were. By the end of making the project I had gone through all these emotions in my head that I never expressed to anyone. I couldn’t even have said how I felt in that moment as I didn’t understand my feelings at the time. So sharing it now is the first time where I’m able to actually put everything into words.

What has the process of making this EP taught you about yourself?

I’m unhealthily self-aware. I know myself quite well and know myself even more as time passes. It’s like, I think I know myself, and then another thing happens, and I’m like, ah, this is what you’re doing. So it’s tough to lie to myself because I’ll be the one who will face the repercussions of it later on. I can’t lie to myself that’s why the project was like that. Because I’m just a self-aware person, but to some extent. I know when I’ve done something wrong and when I feel a certain way now, more than ever. All those situations that I had to go through before the songs actually got to where they are, some are very, very recent as well. So, even in some situations, you have to go through it to write it. You couldn’t, you couldn’t, you couldn’t make that kind of stuff up. 

November is a special month for you, as you drop this project as part of OVMBR, what does this particular EP mean to you? 

Every November is an OVMBR, a checkpoint for my artistic growth. This project marks a huge growth in my artistry and mental state. This is an essential thing because, again, I left everything on this tape. And it’s now set a new bar for me; it can only go up from here. I’m so happy people will get this tape right now. So they can know me at a certain level. With my other music, it’s easy to be like Odeal is an Afrobeats artist, or Odeal does R & B. With this tape, I know what I’m capable of in that sense. If there were any questions about me as an artist, this tape would answer them very well. I’m excited for people to take it. A lot of work has gone into this project. This project taught me patience and a lot of things. I can’t wait to carry everything those things taught me to the next stage. 

Thoughts I Never Said is out now, follow Odeal via @iamodeal

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