by Joshau Davi
Edit June 16, 2020 – Super Duty Tough Work is nominated for a Polaris Music Prize for Studies in Grey, the album discussed in this article. Stylus Magazine edited this piece to publish online, after originally being published in the August/September 2019 issue.
Chances are, if you’ve spent any time attending live music in Winnipeg within the past half decade, you’ve come across Super Duty Tough Work. The 7-piece hip hop outfit has taken over the 204 scene through jazzy instrumentation and lyricism to challenge the greats without even putting out a project during that time. That all changed on September 5th with the release of their first official EP Studies in Grey.
The band has established themselves by putting on killer live shows and getting the crowd involved with their energetic stage presence. “How this group started was with the idea of just throwing really good live events, shows and events and parties, and we would provide the soundtrack, or be a part of the soundtrack,” says lyricist and frontman Brendan Grey, explaining that bridging the gap for those unable to attend live performances from the group is a necessary step for them moving forward. “Unless people experience the show, they’re not gonna understand what it is. Right?” Grey continues, “that is not possible for the majority of people, so the next thing you do, I suppose is to release a record. Right? So that’s kind of where that came into play.”
Just because it’s their project, doesn’t mean it’s identical to their shows. Those who have experienced a performance from the group will have just as much reason to pay attention.
“We tried to make it interesting in that, you know, it’s not the same structure or formula over and over again,” says Grey, “there’s some songs as you would imagine them to be, then there’s some interludes, some instrumental music, you know, a whole bunch of samples and all sorts of things.”
While Grey often writes and creates original material himself, which he later brings to his bandmates to develop and perform, he also credits producer FC Coconut AKA YEONE for his role in creating some of the beats that the band has reinterpreted into songs they perform and record live. “So, I’d say like he’s maybe one of the extra members in that he did a lot of the production which then turned into, you know, our music” he continues to explain how each musician’s own personal style affects the final product, “so sometimes it morphs completely into something new.”
It’s not surprising, considering they boast a roster of exceptional local artists, including: Marisolle Negash on keys, Kevin Waters on drums, Ashley Au on bass, Gabriela Ocejo on guitar, Anthony Bryson on trombone and Olivier Macharia and Eamon Sheil on sax. The band carries an energy unlike any other, with each member playing an important role in their unique sound. “I searched em out,” says Grey, through “lots of trial and error and trying people out and this that and the third you know, it kind of solidified this line-up of who it is now in the last few years.”
Their new EP has hit all streaming services and it’s a sign of good things to come. They also have a video for “The Famine,” keeping it close to home, edited by local artist Peatr Thomas.
The Good Will Social Club hosted the official release party for “Studies in Grey” on September 7th, kicking off a Canada-wide tour that took place through September and October.