Sailing Full Speed Ahead

Doldrums Brings New Sounds to the Scene

Photo Samantha Freeze

Airick Woodhead, a.k.a Doldrums, owns a Korg Kaoss drumpad. In fact, he’s had it since he was eighteen. The Toronto native assured me that since then, he’s also bought a sampler, a keyboard and Traktor software. In an attempt to make small talk, he jokingly mentions how he’s now finally driving a Traktor.

I first saw Woodhead play the launch party for the literary zine Room 22 at the Griffintown house, bike shop, and venue that is The Friendship Cove. The short, blonde-headed Doldrums loomed over his instruments much like a scientist does over his precious laboratory equipment while performing a fragile experiment.

His show was brief, about 20 minutes long, but that did not prevent him from filling the entire room with waves of ethereal sound. By adding layers upon layers of distortion, echo, and synthesis, Doldrums was suddenly huge, his music took up space, you couldn’t help but listen.

Now signed to experimental London-based label No Pain In Pop, Doldrums is slowly coming up in the world of electro-infused music. He’s released Dive Deep a sort of mixtape hommage to his friends and to the projects he’s worked on. The songs oscillate from quasi-R&B to glitch and noise.
It’s super-danceable, but you’ll be inclined to learn some new steps.

I met with him ahead of his performance in M for Montreal to talk about where Doldrums came from, and where it is going.

After playing in Canadian-indie outfit Spiral Beach for several years, Woodhead went solo last year. He lived in Toronto venue/community house Everlasting Superjoy. “That sounds nice” I told him, “It’s a hellhole” he replied. He subsequently left the GTA for Montreal.

As is almost a tradition now; Woodhead followed the NXNEPop MontrealSXSW to Montreal fame. It was at these festivals that he met began working and touring with other Montreal artists, from Grimes to Cadence Weapon, and the hot potato that is Purity Ring. And it was also at these shows where he was first approached by both his new label and also Portishead, who decided to release his cover of “Chase The Tear” on a limited edition split 12”.

That’s right, a split between Woodhead and Portishead will be out soon on XL Recordings. He’s also got an M.I.A. sampling track in the works, although her new album sucks, he confesses.

“Doldrums is and has been about 20 people” says Woodhead. This includes his work with Hooded Fang under the moniker “Phèdre.” I asked him if he thought of his music as a construction process.

“Yeah, but it’s more of a collage,” he replies. To him, it’s about assembling experiences, “oral experiences” and translating them into sound.

After playing in town and releasing a Daytrotter session, Doldrums is ready to go on tour again. 2012 will be a good year for this new addition to the Montreal scene.