Odario Williams was in search of a fresh start. Or rather, he felt a fresh start in the air, with his friends and family yearning for a breeze from some new direction. And so his upcoming solo EP Good Morning, Hunter coalesced into being.
“It happened to be a lot of people around me — friends and loved ones,” Williams said. “I just couldn’t help but soundtrack the time. And if music is my outlet, then I want to share that.”
“It will be a good collection of music for anyone experiencing a new beginning or wanting to experience a new beginning in their life.”
Williams is no stranger to new beginnings. A chameleonic entertainer, he’s a rapper, a storyteller, an actor and a radio host. He describes his upcoming work as a continuation of his artistic modus operandi — to push things in new directions, to blend and manipulate genre into something more.
From his work with the Winnipeg-based hip-hop group Grand Analog to his solo material, Williams is dedicated to the act of exploration.
“[My solo work] is just an extension of Grand Analog because [of] the way I approach sound — it’s always been a hip-hop foundation and there’s always been experimentation with other genres,” Williams said, “so, I don’t see that changing, ever. I think I’ll always be regarded as the guy that experiments with sound.”
Raised in Winnipeg, Williams credits the city’s lack of clear musical identity for his omnivorous approach to genre.
“Growing up in Winnipeg, we weren’t expected to have a sound,” he said. “Toronto, for example, there was only a certain sound that could come out of Toronto, especially in hip-hop music. Everything else wasn’t necessarily accepted or celebrated.
“Me and the Grand Analog crew, we were mashing up sounds before mashup was even a thing, you know? So, that’s just nothing new to me.”
The world’s first taste of Good Morning, Hunter is the Dawn Pemberton-featured track “Low Light (In This Space),” a soul-warped rap song that introduces the EP’s detail-oriented eclecticism. As Williams tells it, the track is a piece of serendipity.
“[Dawn Pemberton] called me out of the blue because a fellow musician told her ‘You need to speak to Odario,’” he said. “We ended up talking for well over an hour, maybe a couple of hours, about just life and music.”
He described this chance phone call as the catalyst for revisiting the song that would eventually be the EP’s first single.
“It was her that made me want to complete this song because I’d always wanted to implement gospel flavour into the song,” he said.
“That is fate in a nutshell.”
Fate seems to play into Williams’s music often, whether it be in the form of an unexpected phone call from a soul singer or an EP that speaks precisely to the experiences of those closest to him. With Good Morning, Hunter, he seems poised to soundtrack many new beginnings, to guide listeners into a new day.
“There are aspects of the EP that [are about] surviving the night, and getting through the darkness,” he said.
“The hunter is that person that’s survived the darkness and is now ready to take on the world.”
Odario Williams opens for Bedouin Soundclash at the Park Theatre Feb. 15. Good Morning, Hunter is slated for release this May.