December 17, 2008
Grand Analog is fronted by Odario G. Williams, whose music fuses hip-hop, funk, reggae and rock and roll. I had the pleasure of chatting with Williams recently and here’s what he had to say.
Who is Grand Analog?
That’s an interesting question. Some people think I’m Grand Analog and that’s not the case. I’m the creator and front man for a project called Grand Analog. Members of this project include my co-producers Catalist and Wu Ataman. Other musicians include Damon Mitchell, Warren Bray and my DJ (and real brother) Ofield Williams.
How would you describe your music?
It’s hip-hop, but soul must be in the bloodline. Soul can channel through many genres of music. We sample and play a fair share of dub, funk and rock into the mix. These are expressed more specifically in the live show. We jam quite a bit and experiment right then and there on stage during a performance.
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, A Tribe Called Quest, Bad Brains, Tony Bennett, The Roots. Marvin for exposing real emotion through song and vocals. Joni for being the greatest Canadian songwriter in history. Tribe for making hip-hop feel so good and timeless with three simple ingredients: beats, rhymes and life. Bad Brains for breaking race barriers and rocking real, real hard. Tony for a being a classy top notch dude for nearly half a century. The Roots for the longevity and consistency of original creative music.
You were in a rap group before called Mood Ruff and now you’re in a solo venture. How was that and what happened?
I was smart enough to stand outside my own box and look into what I was doing. I could see that my Mood Ruff days had come to an end. Some cats keep tired projects going unaware of a stagnant situation. It was perfect timing for Mood Ruff because we won a Western Canadian Music Award in the Urban category and our single "Rocketship" was voted number one song of the year on CBC Radio3’s year end chart. I felt there was nowhere else to go at that point. It was a perfect and quiet exit. Most artists would use that momentum and run with it, but I honestly thought it was a good time to start a new project and write my own songs. And then came Grand Analog, I can’t complain.
Let’s talk about your recent CD. How has the fan response been, are you satisfied?
Yes I am, it’s called Calligraffiti. For a project out of nowhere that started in 2006 the level of response has been great. I guess it was the right time for a new strand of hip-hop. I think a lot of people really like hip-hop. The grey area is the popularized strand of rap music that overshadows all the other strands. Most people don’t realize hip-hop is worldly now and can be many different things with many different strands – you just have to find it. I think people that gravitate to my sound needed a different type of hip-hop to listen to.
You are from Winnipeg, what’s the music scene like there?
I’ve been to many cities and investigated their music scenes. It’s safe for me to say that Peg city has a healthy and promising scene. We have a wide range of talent. Unfortunately we are still trying to break the curse of being from a prairie town. To this day, Winnipeg artists get treated a certain way once they announce they are from Peg city. Being an emcee was especially tough – as if rappers can’t come from certain cities. I wasn’t having any of that perception. I’m from Winnipeg and my music is dope. Period.
How is performing in Toronto different than in another city in Canada?
People that have never heard of you before will come out to a show and embrace what you do. Toronto cats research you and give you a chance. They appreciate art and it’s artists. Most cities in this country won’t consider leaving their home unless they heard you on the radio or saw you on TV.
When is your follow-up CD coming out?
March 2009. It’s called Metropolis Is Burning.
Check out Grand Analog at www.myspace.com/grandanalog.