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Live at the Backlot: Odette Mercy and Johnny Nandez

Odette Mercy & Johnny Nandez. Pic: Steve Worner

Pic: Steve Worner

“The best thing about writing and singing soul music is that it has heart, and sometimes these days people try to get caught up with being intelligent, clever and witty with their lyrics, and I don’t possess any of those skills, but what I do possess is to be honest and to be true.”

– Odette Mercy

A duo version of their six-piece funk soul band, Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics, Ofa Fotu (Odette) and Jon Fernandes chatted before appearing at the luxurious, intimate setting at The Backlot in the latest a series of shows called Live at the Backlot: Up Close and Personal on Thursday night. I asked them how they were feeling about the evening ahead and what we might expect…

Odette explained, “I’m pretty excited, we play intimate gigs, but the boys usually try to minimise how much no-filter time Ofa (Odette) has onstage. There’s a thing where I just go there’s no point trying to pretend being cool, I’ll probably fall or trip myself. That’s just generally who I am so, the opportunity to talk and to be interviewed by Bob Gordon… he’s like a hometown legend who really knows the scene and has supported us from the beginning, so for us to be able to chat with him is really quite an honour. I’m feeling excited and super proud of the last couple of years and looking forward to what the next couple of years are going to bring.’

We talked about what it meant to be a soul/funk artist, and Odette explained, “I think the heart of what we do is in the storytelling, and telling stories that people find commonality within, or that they can imagine or feel the same things that we feel – being in the story.


“For me songwriting with Jon is very much about being open and we’re digging up old memories, and instead of putting it to paper, we’re sharing it together and trying to find what are the common experiences and then putting it out together. For me, it’s my therapy I guess and part of our self-expression, we look forward to being able to do it.”

Jon also explained, “We like to showcase our songwriting, not just the dance grooves, obviously, we have amazing players in our band, but tonight we can’t hide behind anything, it really is just the vocal, the lyrics and the music.”

The evening began with a performance from WAM Award Winning James Alexander Rogers and his guitar from The Little Lord Street Band, sharing unreleased music followed by latest releases, Maybe I’m Just In Love and What A Year. The intimate setting made for a very natural and spontaneous performance from James, and we laughed with him as he shared the stories behind his songs.

Bob Gordon then led us through the Odette and Jon experience, by talking with them about topic such as Ofa’s relationship with music through her Tongan culture, her growth as an artist through the persona of Odette Mercy and how she and Jon came to work together through the years to form what is now Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics. Then we heard Ofa sing.

I felt speechless by her soulful and beautifully powerful yet seemingly effortless voice, as Ofa took us through the light and shade of songs such as Call On Me, Mama and Heartbreak with whole hearted passion. Holding the mic from afar, she still filled the room with an incredibly organic, honest sound that can be described as angelically rich with heart-warming ownership and flawlessness.

Currently halfway through an album, Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics are looking forward to 2018.

Head to for more details on Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics

Don’t miss the intimate conversations at the next Around The Sound Presents – Live at The Backlot: Up Close and Personal: Dave Graney, December 8

Limited Tix for this intimate setting here:

For all event listings head to

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