25 years ago today, singer-songwriter Beck released what is now considered a modern classic. His 1996 studio record, Odelay, resulted in several successful singles, including “Devils Haircut” and “Where Its At.” During a conversation with Matt Wilkinson on his Apple Music show, Beck reflected upon the album’s creation and his “very low expectations” in releasing the record as the followup to One Foot in the Grave (1994).
“I thought at the very best, it would come out. It would be a big flop—but in 20 years, a bunch of weirdos would find it and go, ‘Oh, this record was cool,’ because it wasn’t the obvious commercial follow up,” he says. “There was a famous producer that came to my house who got an advanced copy, and he took me for a drive and he said, ‘You know, I got your album.’ I was shocked. I was like, ‘How did you get it? I haven’t even given it to my friends yet.’ He said, ‘If you release it, it’ll be a huge mistake. You should not release this record. You should go back in and make a real album with real songs.’
“I remember being so deflated, and I went home very discouraged and scared because I was 24. and I had virtually no money and I had just spent about $300,000 making this record,” he continues. “I thought it would be paying it off, working in a minimum wage job for a decade. It was going to be a disaster. The whole thing was going to be a disaster.”
Odelay was far from a disaster. Upon its release, it peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 and eventually vaulted over two million copies sold, his most commercially successful release to-date.
Beck also reflected on one particularly “dismissive” review he received around the same time. “I remember playing Reading Festival, and I was opening up for The Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. I was wearing some crazy thrift store, bell-bottom outfit,” he recalls. “And I remember the reviews in The NME were like, ‘The worst act of the day was Beck and he and his polyester pants should just go back to California where they belong.'”
In the conversation, Beck discusses Spike Jonze popping into the recording studio, being remixed by Oasis, and Eminem’s use of a musical sample. Check it out here.