In conversation with Doldrums
Interview by Shannon Lawlor
Airick Woodhead aka Doldrums is a producer, vocalist and visual artist based in Montreal, Canada. Forming in 2010, Doldrums originally began as an entity for Woodhead to release experimental home recordings under, before eventually evolving the project into a full band. Inspired by life, death and nature, Doldrums are best known for their sample-heavy, percussion rich experimental electro aura and energetic live performances, taking DIY ethics to another level with their own brand of twisted noise-pop.
Doldrums’ latest album Esc released via Endless Records is an entrancing, mesmerizing journey through a beaming abyss, containing elements of ambient, electronica and techno, all blended together, dripping with kaleidoscopic psychedelia.
We caught up with Airick Woodhead of Doldrums on embracing the term ‘janky’ and potential album titles:
For anyone unfamiliar with Doldrums’ all-embracing eclecticism, how would you personally describe the sounds you make?
Hey The Playground! The sounds come from playing with machines, messing with them in interesting ways and adding percussion, drums and singing on top. The word ‘janky’ was used to describe those rhythms to me a few years ago, and that’s the word that’s stuck in my head the most to describe the feel. A group of people in Montreal I know all jam on gear, sometimes play together and sometimes get some batteries and go play outside on the street, it’s like the natural music that’s around and doesn’t have much to do with computers, except at the level where you want to try to make a record out of it.
In 2017, the third Doldrums album titled Esc was born, featuring even more influence and experimentation than previous records. Could you detail the recording process, and how it may have differed to 2015’s The Air Conditioned Nightmare?
Yeah, I started with the song ‘Runnerup’ – which my friend Guy Dallas made the beat for, and had this idea to make a whole album of kind of a slower, more epic Doldrums album, like The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’ mixed with Andy Stott or something. The album before Esc was much more dance oriented, because I had been writing with a live band on tour constantly. So this was just a kind of stasis album.
Doldrums’ debut introduction into the world of experimental electronic music could be found in 2010’s Empire Sound EP. Where did the inspiration to write ‘I’m Homesick Sittin’ Up Here In My Satellite’ come from?
Yeah that was the first tune I did as Doldrums and it still has all the ingredients for what I’m doing now! Janky beat, bunch ‘o drums, melodic singing and screaming. Um, and this is kind of lame, but i used to walk by a drum circle on my way home from work like every Tuesday when i lived in Toronto and I would sample some of those rhythms on my Zoom Recorder and then used them for that song. The sentiment of that song is really anxious and lonely – I felt that way for a long time and didn’t know what it was, it felt like constantly being homesick.
Touring and travelling are an important part of Doldrums’ unique vision and DIY-ethic. Are there any particular places you feel would be especially inspiring to travel to, which you haven’t already seen?
I really want to play in South America soon. People on the internet keep asking me to come over, but I haven’t found an agent or anything yet. Hmm where else… Atlantis?
How do you feel Doldrums has progressed in terms of style and influence? Particularly when creating tracks like ‘Runnerup’.
I think it’s getting more coherent, at least to me. There used to be like way too many influences and I thought that that was cool and ‘post-internet’ to have a song that sampled like Slayer and Stravinsky at the same time. But now I create more of the sounds from scratch and so it feels more true to myself.
Three favourite albums of 2017?
I’ll give u 3 from Montreal 🙂
She-Devils – Self-Titled
RAMZi – Pèze-Piton
Valeda – Unearth
Doldrums are better known for their utilization of inorganic sampling, crowd interaction and hallucinogenic lyrical content. What are some of your favourite aspects of performing live?
Things can get pretty messy up there but it’s great when people are down, and we get carried away together and go to a new place in the music. My favorite places to play on the last trips were Dublin and Amsterdam, really sick. I also love playing outside!
What does the future hold for Doldrums?
Esc was the first album I self released and that was a challenge – silk-screening and mailing out all the LPs ourselves – it feels like each one is a special object. Coming from a bigger label it feels like I have my own license to do whatever I want now – do something really out there. And the last album was pretty poppy. So I’m quite excited for where things are headed musically. I’d like to collaborate or try producing for other people I think, too. I think I may call the next album ‘Return’.
Order Doldrums’ latest album Esc via Bandcamp
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