Toronto’s Grand Analog are celebrating 10 years of music making magic. Band members Odario G. Williams, Warren Bray, Ofield K. Williams, Alister Johnson, TJ Garcia each bring a unique appreciation for music and together they’ve created a great sound for themselves. The hip-hop/soul collective just released a 15 track retrospective album Roll Dub Soul Rap (A Collection) on October 9th, bringing fans on a ride through the hip hop band’s past releases. The first featured track is a remix of “Heart the Lonely Hunter” (off 2014’s Modern Thunder) by Muneshine featuring vocals from Ashleigh Eymann.
Q – With the release of your retrospective album this fall, can you take us through Grand Analog’s beginnings for those people who don’t know your story. How did all of this get started?
I’m a titles kind of guy. I love words and titles. So I had the name Grand Analog lingering in the back of my mind long before the band was created. I knew I wanted to front this band before a single song was recorded. I felt it described the sound I was after in a poetic fashion. Back in 2007 I slowly put these funky pieces together and released Calligraffiti (another title I held closely for years). I put the band together while working in a record store. I’d listen to all the random classics daily, like The Clash, De La Soul, Lee Scratch Perry, David Axelrod, Mad Professor and more. I knew I wanted to experiment with these sounds, as they all influenced me greatly.
Q – Congratulations on signing with Major Lazer’s label and the label in Germany, as well. What’s it like to take this next step and to take your music to another level?
It definitely makes you work harder, but think harder as well. That’s not a good thing. The key to the next step is to not over think everything. You can work as hard on your craft as you need; as hard as you physically can. But don’t think that hard. In fact don’t think at all.
Q – I’ve read that you guys are prolific record collectors. What’s your take on the state of vinyl today? We’ve sort of rejected CDs, and vinyl now exists as this expensive and prized thing that many people seek out. From cheap thrift store finds, to expensive international vinyl – the industry is doing so well. What do you make of this?
Well, the surge in vinyl orders was a shock to the industry. More than half the original pressing plants had already closed down and the remaining plants couldn’t keep up with the high demand for vinyl. Basically, most of today’s artists have to wait months in order to press their releases, therefore the marketing strategies are also affected. For example, an album release date is not as important as it used to be. If I win the lottery I will open my own premium pressing plant so we can all be happy and get high on wax!
Q – In regards to sampling – what do you guys look for when you’re seeking out new samples? What sorts of things catch your ear? Do you have certain genres, regions, etc, that you tend to prefer for sampling?
Lately we’ve been looking to far away places for samples and musical ideas. Music found around the world carry different flavours & melodies but still manage to share funky drum beats; especially in the 1970s. The best found funk so far has come out of the most obscure regions, such as Turkey, South Africa and Winnipeg. All worth proper and extensive investigating.
Q – What are you listening to these days, can you recommend a track or an artist for us to check out?
Check out Muneshine‘s work. He’s a producer out of Toronto making waves with his electronic beats and Hip-Hop appeal. His new single ‘Sunshine’ has been on repeat while I work at home. Toronto has many great artists these days. I’m very proud of Toronto’s music scene this year.
Q – Do you listen to any music that comes out of Hamilton?
Yes, I’ve been a Junior Boys fan for years. Jeremy came to a Grand Analog show a few years ago at Absinthe Club and introduced himself. I never knew what they looked like until then. They could have worn Daft Punk style helmets and gotten away with it all these years.