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Hip-hop act quietly plotting world domination

From left, TJ Garcia, Ofield Williams, Odario Williams, Alister Johson and Warren Bray.

KEVIN JONES PHOTOGRAPHY

From left, TJ Garcia, Ofield Williams, Odario Williams, Alister Johson and Warren Bray.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/2/2015 (1382 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Looks like we won't have to wait long for the next Grand Analog album if frontman Odario Williams has his way.

While the Toronto-via-Winnipeg rap 'n' roll crew is still touring in support of its third album, 2013's Modern Thunder -- Grand Analog's current western Canadian club crawl will bring the band to Winnipeg on Friday night -- it's already working on a new album.

"It's called War Stories, and it's projected to be out in summer 2015," Williams says.

He's light on details, as the band -- which includes his brother, DJ Ofield Williams, bassist Warren Bray, keyboardist Alister Johnson and drummer TJ Garcia -- is "still messing around with beats and ideas," says Williams, who was born in Guyana and grew up in the West End of Winnipeg, where he attended U of W and was a founding member of hip-hop duo Mood Ruff.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/2/2015 (1382 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Looks like we won't have to wait long for the next Grand Analog album if frontman Odario Williams has his way.

While the Toronto-via-Winnipeg rap 'n' roll crew is still touring in support of its third album, 2013's Modern Thunder — Grand Analog's current western Canadian club crawl will bring the band to Winnipeg on Friday night — it's already working on a new album.

"It's called War Stories, and it's projected to be out in summer 2015," Williams says.

He's light on details, as the band — which includes his brother, DJ Ofield Williams, bassist Warren Bray, keyboardist Alister Johnson and drummer TJ Garcia — is "still messing around with beats and ideas," says Williams, who was born in Guyana and grew up in the West End of Winnipeg, where he attended U of W and was a founding member of hip-hop duo Mood Ruff.

The group is toying with the idea of releasing singles that will eventually be collected as an album.

"We want to continue to be an album-focused band, but we're in the middle of a singles era," he says.

Grand Analog is also poised to get its genre-defying danceable mix of dub, reggae, soul, hip hop and rock into new ears. The band inked a deal with Germany's Ferryhouse Productions, which re-released Modern Thunder in April 2014 for distribution in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Grand Analog is also one of the first signees on Brooklyn's Feel Up Records, a new start-up from DJ/producer Jillionaire of electronic music project Major Lazer, who is known for mixing house music with the Caribbean sounds of dancehall and soca.

"He's really into West Indian culture, so what I was doing was quite attractive to him," says Williams, the son of an '80s reggae DJ.

The Feel Up Records deal could be an important inroad into the U.S. market, which the band has had a challenging time breaking into.

"It's been quite the crawl," Williams says. "But we're finally starting to get noticed by outlets like (music magazine) Fader. The biggest thing we can do right now is get some new music going to keep up the momentum."

In the months since Modern Thunder's release, Williams, who is also an actor, was tapped to work on a couple other projects. He will be the voice of the 2015 Pan Am Games, which will be held in Toronto in July. He wrote a song for the Games, as well as doing all the voiceover work for the advertising campaign, which rolls out sometime in March.

He was also enlisted to help Alan Thicke — yes, that Alan Thicke — write a rap for his reality show, Unusually Thicke. "He was so into it. He called me and was like..." — Williams drops his voice several octaves in an Alan Thicke impression — "'OK, so, I've got some ideas here.'"

The original proposed rhyme was something to the effect of: "I went down the stairs/had a cup of tea/went up the stairs/to see what I could see." Williams decided to do it in over-the-top Beastie Boys style.

"He calls me back and was like, 'That's perfect!'" Williams laughs. "I have no idea if this thing is going to air."

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti
Columnist

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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History

Updated on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 6:27 AM CST: Changes headline, replaces photo

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