Grand Analog coming to Fanshawe
“There's still this undertone that rap will come into your establishment and destroy it,” laughed Odario Williams on the phone from his Toronto apartment, the band's creator and frontman. “[But] there's something about [Grand Analog] that's accessible to people, and having the Toronto Public Library say ‘Hey, we want your rap act to come play in front of mothers and their children in downtown Toronto,' I see that as an honour.”
Now onto another bar and campus tour, Grand Analog (Williams, with a backing band of a DJ, bass player and keyboardist) will be performing at Fanshawe College on January 21 and 22 for the Nooner in Forwell Hall and New Music Night at the Out Back Shack. It's a perfect chance to see some of Canada's most cutting edge hip-hop, based on Williams' experimentation with dub, rock, soul, funk and blues music. In fact, listening to Grand Analog is much like a musical anthropology lesson - a fortunate, but purely intentional side effect of his dabbling.
“I did an interview yesterday and the girl who interviewed me didn't know what dub was,” said Williams, referring to the reggae sub-genre. “I never thought of [my music] as a way that people can actually catch on to the history of music. To me it was like ‘Man, no one's really sampling this fantastic music, I can't see why I shouldn't,' so it was something for us, our own mission, but it wasn't until it got out there that I realized people can learn some shit from all this!”
Grand Analog's experimentation started as a side project for Williams, who first began rapping with Winnipeg's Mood Ruff over a decade ago. And while finding his niche hasn't always been the easiest process, Williams explained how he has kept such a strong commitment to a musical career over the years.
“Reinvent yourself. I did. I'm living proof of it,” said Williams. “Back in 2000 I was an underground hip-hop artist… and I was really angry. Everything commercial was garbage and that kind of thing… but that's changed because [things have] balanced out. The pop stars have come down a notch and the underground stars have gone up a notch. Pop is so vast now that it's undefinable, so here we are and the only thing that will keep you in the mix is if you redefine yourself every so often and don't be stubborn about what you think you are or what you think you represent. You'll get lost in the dust quick with that mentality.”
And through his constant touring and strong, independent work ethic, Williams has also made friends with some of Canada's leading hip-hop artists, from Classified and K'naan to Cadence Weapon and Shad. And while they all remain friends, Williams expressed a slight disappointment in the lack of musical commonalities between Canadian rappers.
“All of us have our own unique sound, and… the negative end of that, is that you'll never get a movement out of it. These things happened in New York City in the late 70s, early 80s, it happened in… Los Angeles in the late 80s early 90s, [and now there's] even the Grime movement out of the UK... but unfortunately all of us Canadian artists sound so different there will never be a movement. It's impossible!”
Still, Williams can see the other side of the coin.
So if you're looking to embrace something new, check out Grand Analog on January 21 or 22, at either Forwell Hall or The Out Back Shack. You'll thank yourself for it.