Snack Sessions Interview : Super Duty Tough Work

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Manitoba Music’s Snack Sessions video series featuring emerging local artists that streams live via Facebook. Read on and stay tuned for more Snack Sessions. Snack Sessions is made possible by the support of Corus Entertainment, with snacks provided by Tomahawk Chips and Half Pints Brewing Company

By Graeme Houssin

After five years as one of Winnipeg’s most exciting live acts, seven-piece hip hop ensemble Super Duty Tough Work is gearing up to release their first ever EP in September.

The transition from strictly performing live to amassing their jazz-inspired hip hop sound in a studio record can be daunting, says frontman and MC Brendan Grey, but releasing a record is a necessary step for their growth as an outfit.

“It’s a missing piece for us,” says Grey, “and if we’re trying to take it to the next level, it’s essential.”

Featuring a lineup of established local musicians – including Marisolle Negash on keys, Gabriela Ocejo on guitar, Ashley Au on bass, Eamon Sheil and Olivier Macharia on sax, Anthony Bryson on trombone, and Kevin Waters on drums – Super Duty Tough Work stands out in the hip hop scene by offering a full-scale musical ensemble.

“It took a long time to find the right players,” says Grey. “As a musician and being always around musicians, it was always kind of a goal to do hip hop with a live band, while hopefully sounding as much like a drum machine or an MPC as possible.”

Already in 2019, they’ve had an impressive year, including a set at Festival du Voyageur, a performance at Forth, a scaled down two-person showcase for Canadian Music Week in Toronto, a spot at the 20th Annual Ellice Street Festival, and a full-band appearance on the main stage for the 2019 Pride Winnipeg Festival at The Forks.

“It was different than any show we’ve ever played,” says Grey. “We all had a blast. We’ve never played Pride before, so it was great to have that experience.”

On the very same Sunday that Super Duty Tough Work played Pride Winnipeg, they released their first single from the forthcoming EP: “The Famine”, a track Grey describes as “half braggadocio, half social commentary”.

Like the majority of tracks on the new album, the process of arranging the track began with Grey and his production partner F.C Coconut. Together, the two arrange each instrument’s part on a machine, then bring the beats to the group and re-create them.

“We work it through together, see what works and what doesn’t,” says Grey. “There’s freedom within the playing; they’re not just playing the same three chords or two notes or whatever over and over again, they’ve got room to move, but they also have a framework to work from.”

As for what’s next, the group is gearing up to release the music video for “The Famine” soon. Ahead of their EP release, Grey expects to release one or two more singles, then prepare for a post-launch tour sometime in September and October.

“I just can’t wait any longer,” says Grey about the release. “It has to come out. If people can’t come to wherever we are to see the show we’re putting on, then they’re never going to know what’s up; the music is the part that fills that gap.”

Listen to Super Duty Tough Work’s latest single “The Famine” on their Manitoba Music profile and keep your eyes peeled for their debut EP launching September 5.

Stay tuned for more Snack Sessions...

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