Radar Band Of The Week – No. 117: Doldrums

I accidentally walked down that corridor earlier,” says Airick Woodhead, gesturing down a hallway deep within maze-like London venue Scala. “I turned left, and there in front of me was this creature in a pile of clothes. He told me he was trying to get rid of a foot infection, then he held his foot up to me, and it was dripping and oozing pus.”

Welcome to the weird world of Doldrums, where anything is possible and everything is filtered through Airick’s wide-eyed, childlike curiosity. Pulsating with a ferocious sense of adventure and imagination, Doldrums’ music is chaotic in the most fun and frenzied way possible.


Part of Canada’s current slow-motion explosion of inventive new musicians, Doldrums says he identifies strongly with his native country’s “outsider complex”. He describes himself as a “transient person” who’s perfectly happy forging friendships while “sitting at the back of the bus with meth-heads and murderers”. Hardly surprising, then, that his due-in-February debut album, ‘Lesser Evil’, is propelled by two central themes: nomadic restlessness and life as an outcast.

“In every social situation I put myself in, I feel like an anthropologist,” says Airick. “I’m fascinated by people, and phenomena such as Arbutus and [Canadian artist collectives] The House Of Everlasting Super Joy.” Album track ‘Lost In Everyone’ is specifically about “being an outsider”, he says. “I wasn’t really connected to any music scene – and I guess some weird ideas came out of that…”

‘Lesser Evil’ has the potential to launch Doldrums on the same trajectory as bezzie and labelmate Grimes – not that Airick is particularly enthusiastic about that. “I hate it,” he shrugs, when asked about the album. He really shouldn’t – like Grimes’ ‘Visions’, ‘Lesser Evil’ is a hugely impressive mix of warped, abrasive samples and straight-up dance influences.

“I do really like the songs when I play live,” he concedes, “because I get to do them in fun ways with new people. I’ve come a long way from improv noise shows, running feedback through my friend’s iPhone!” His spirit may be getting less eccentric, but as long as he’s on the outside looking in, it’s inconceivable that Doldrums would ever be considered normal.

Need To Know

Based: Montreal
For Fans Of: Grimes, Oneohtrix Point Never
Buy It: ‘She Is The Wave’ is out now on Arbutus; the album ‘Lesser Evil’ is due for release on February 25, 2013
See Him Live: Doldrums will return to the UK early next year
Believe It Or Not: Airick once oversaw an impromptu drum jam outside a Coldplay gig in Toronto. “People mostly reacted with fear,” he says, “but we did make $40.”