Airick Woodhead has had a pretty busy year. In the guise of avant-pop beast Doldrums, the 22-year-old has been touring with Grimes and Purity Ring, and is now set to release his latest album Lesser Evil in February via Arbutus/Souterrain Transmissions. He’s came a long way from his early tape loop experiments and the leftfield DIY scene that spawned him. We spoke about the Montreal scene and its similarities to the things going on in my home of Berlin… And parties, of course.
How is the scene in Montreal? There are so many things coming from there right now.
I feel like in the last couple of years there’s been a big migration of Canadian artists to Montreal. I’m happy to be there. It’s something akin to the summer of 1989 rave scene. Every weekend there’s big all-night parties, crazy kinds of noise shows.
I heard about riots going on in Montreal, though in Europe the media doesn’t cover that much, if at all.
I was on tour in May last year in Europe when the student riots were going on. Montreal’s got a long history of volatile politics, terrible brutal cops and also reactionary factions who want to separate from the rest of Canada. They blow up mailboxes and stuff like that. Last year was all about that, everyone wanted to come riot and pitch their own ideology in there. In a similar way the 99% movement is fuelled by confusion and misplaced anger. It’s just in the air in Montreal too, because there are the French and the English and the students and the people who live there.
We had an interview with D’eon on the website and he also talked about this combination of rioting and heavy partying. Fights on the street…
D’eon is a softy, man! [laughs]. The last party I had in my house people were on PCP and throwing bricks through my window. But I would say beyond us there is not a lot of crime. It’s a very safe place to live in terms of crime.
Is there a strong DIY, house party scene?
You don’t go to a bar in Montreal, you go to a friend’s house and drink.
You do a lot of shows there?
There’s this old industrial district where everyone in the art and music world lives, and you can make a living by throwing a couple of parties a month.
It’s the same here in Berlin in the Neukölln area. Everyone seems to live here now and a lot of stuff is happening.
It’s so funny, I come to Berlin and I know what’s going on, but there is no way to getting in if you are from the outside. And that’s why these scenes breed an actual conversation between musicians and the venues they are playing, because it’s so contained. Today the biggest problem with music is that there is not enough time for artists to develop what they are doing before they’re cast out into the spotlight or the global scene. It’s rare when you can find a real community where music grows inside of it. What are some good Berlin bands?
Not sure where to start here. I’ve worked together with so many amazing bands, I’d recommend checking out Ill Winds and Sun Worship for a start. I was also doing shows for bands from Montreal, for Tops or Sean Nicholas Savage…
Yeah, you got it man, those are the people I know. It’s not like some scene where everyone is like, “we’re cool, we all do garage rock”. Everyone is just really dedicated.
It’s more like a geographic coincidence?
Everyone was looking for somewhere where they can do what they wanted to do.
How would you describe your music?
Psychedelic! I started music because I wanted to make something as easy as possible, that was as good as possible. I discovered this whole community of people interested in sampling. I listened to a lot of early 90s noise stuff, political stuff like Negativland, this one tape I got by a guy called Purist. I responded with an album called Live at Silent Barn: Re-heckled Slogans for the 21st Century Wunderkid, it’s on the internet for free somewhere. That’s as leftfield as I got. But then I can’t help it and think of pop songs in my head too. I’ve come a long way since the tape-loop stuff, I see myself as a more conventional musician now.
The tracks on your new album go in so many different directions, what do you think about the album format?
Once you are thinking “album”, you are thinking these big thoughts. It’s a phenomenal feeling; just to conceive of making something so huge. Making one sound, making a drone is enough for me sometimes.
I listen to a lot of drones.
There is a song on the album called “Lost in Everyone” that I spent, like, twelve hours on, all day inside of that sound to get it right. Then I put it into this pop song. My favorite record when I was a kid was Music for Airports, it’s just so good! We had a big party, like 300 people on drugs and then we just turned out all the lights and played some drones. Everyone just started to lie down. It was beautiful. ~
The last time we saw Toronto powerdelic-pop group Doldrums, they were opening for Grimes at Berlin’s famous Berghain club. Fitting then, that their latest video is directed by Emily Kai Bock, the same director who gave us the fantastic, world-of-her-own video for “Oblivion”. While her latest video may not make us drop our pants the way we did while backup-dancing for Claire Boucher, it does make us drop our jaws with happiness. “She is the Wave” finds bandleader Airick Woodhead struggling to push a shopping cart full of technology across the desert. The ski boots he’s wearing don’t help much, but the arrival of a cat-car speeds things along. The only question is: where can we get one of those for ourselves?
Hundebiss Records is constantly releasing fantastic stuff.
From the experimental radio noise of Angels USA (also known as Angels In America, also known as ‘will you marry me’) and the stoner-crustgoth chaos of Sewn Leather to the cosgasmic nightmares of Stargate and the syrupy hip hop evil of Lil Ugly Mane, it’s a name that’s come to stand for diverse quality, wherever freak flags fly.
On November 12, label owner Dracula Lewis is dropping his very first 12″ on Souterrain Transmissions. ‘Permafrost’ is exactly what you’d expect from the man behind Hundebiss, in all the most perfect ways. The videos for the title track and B-side ‘Marble Eyez’ are below. Listen and understand: you need this.
That’s what we call a kick-started career: get yourself a bunch of songs and an EP published, cover Portishead and make it on your single’s B-side, support Grimes on tour, and then put out your debut album on top of an EP. Airick Woodhead did just that with his band Doldrums (not to be confused with Joy Orbison’s record label of the same name).
The Montreal-based producer just released his limited 12″ vinyl single ‘Egypt’. Just as Doldrum’s music is spheric, multi-layered, distorted, and introverted post-bass, the new music video by director Allessandra Hoshor is somehow disturbing:
– Blurry VCR images? Check!
– Apparition imagery? Check!
– Trippy hippie visual art climaxing into a retro ice cream feast? Check!
Watch the music video premiere for ‘Copper Girl’ (and grab a free download of ‘Egypt’ and ‘Jump Up’) below, and get prepared for Doldrums’ yet untitled debut album to drop in late Autumn via Souterrain Transmissions and Arbutus Records.
The author on Twitter:
Another week to go and it’s finally here: Nika Roza Danilova’s new, epic album ‘Conatus’ under her moniker Zola Jesus. The Russian American singer’s third album will be released on Souterrain Transmissions on September 30th, she will be playing a couple of release shows around this date: her Paris gig is already sold out, the concerts in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles are a bit too far away for us continental Europeans to go, so why not pay her a visit in Berlin during her performance at club Berghain?
Zola Jesus and band will be playing there the night before the album’s official release, and with that they’ll be showcasing the record exclusively in Germany. Tickets are still available, but feel free to join our competition below. And while you’re there you can also sign up for her Electronic Beats presented live tour in Germany in November, when the 22-year-old Zola Jesus will return to Cologne, Heidelberg, Munich, and Frankfurt am Main (November 17-20) – we’re giving away 2 tickets for each stop of Zola Jesus’ Germany tour.
Oh, and by the way: full ‘Conatus’ album stream below ahoy!
– – Comepetition is closed, winners have been notified – –