2015 Artist Survey: Doldrums

Airick Woodhead on 2015's Best Albums, Music Streaming, Pop vs. Indie, Star Wars, and Getting Fired

Feb 08, 2016 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Airick Woodhead, who records as Doldrums. Doldrums' most recent album, The Air Conditioned Nightmare, was released last April via Sub Pop.

Top 10 Albums of 2015

1. Ratking: 700 Fill—I guess this is more of a mixtape than an album, but until they drop a follow-up to So It Goes, this is doing well. They've been my favorite band since we played with them at Glasslands a few years ago and a brawl erupted in the crowd during their set. We had to go on stage and be like, "we're Canadian, please don't hurt us." Awesome noise rap punk band.

2. U.S. Girls: Half FreeInstantly makes me feel like I'm in the back of a Thunderbird driving down Highway 1. There is something so stylish and tasteful yet trashy-like watching Fellini in a trailer park. Her voice is super upfront and the sampledelia is layered thick. Also kudos to her husband Slim Twig who produced some of the tracks and also released his own amazing record this year.

3. Andy Stott: Faith In StrangersDrum machine and industrialism that goes far beyond techno tracks and works as a full album. The best kind of bleak.

4. Mykki Blanco: White Pelle PelleOkay, this didn't come out...but maybe it still will? I'm confused. Anyways, it was listed on Wikipedia so I'm putting it here. He's got the gift. He is constantly inspiring and makes being a genderfluid Black rapper living with HIV look easy. The latest shit he's been putting out has been more gritty and lo-fi and reminds me of his roots in MTL as a noise musician. 

5. HEALTH: Death MagicI wish I was a teenager living in the suburbs and I could blast this in my room and my mom would tell me to turn it off and I would be like, "YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT ME" and run out the door with my skateboard, mascara running down my face. I'm going to see them on Wednesday.

6. Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim ReaperThe King.

7. Moon King: Secret LifeThis record captures something of the beauty and challenges of adolescence that I think is an inherent quality of so much of the best music. The MBV/Krauty influences are superficial-once you get to know them they have their own chemistry. Oh yeah, and he's also my brother. Listen to the song "Roswell." 

8. Ramzi: Houti KushVery futuristic mushroom club music. She is one of the most distinct producers I can think of-her own category. 

9. Beach House: Thank Your Lucky StarsYou can attach memories to this stuff like it's sticky-tape. Also very swag to release two albums in a year and have the second one be even better than the first. 

10. DJ Marfox: RevoluçãoThis is a compilation from one of my favorite genre's right now-the very mushroom-y crew from Lisbon surrounding Principe Discos. Insane, insane, insane stuff.

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Our record release in Montréal felt really special. It makes me happy to see the kind of people who are responding to the tunesespecially when you get everyone to the point where they don't have reservations about moving their bodies. 

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

If I told you I'd have to kill you. 

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

I use Spotify and it's sick. But it definitely is a terrible system for getting artists compensated accurately in relation to how many people are listening to their music. There's a really good article about it here that is well worth reading: https://medium.com/cuepoint/streaming-music-is-ripping-you-off-61dc501e7f94

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I understand their thinkingwith a global release day there aren't people uploading albums to pirating sites before people in other countries have the chance to buy them. So it probably will help sales, at least a little. But the whole battle against music pirating is a losing game, and in many ways should be if we also want to protect our freedoms to share other kinds of information online. 

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

This is a generalization that is hard for me to understand as I wouldn't put myself in either category. I make music a certain way with a certain group of people and it's never been explicitly pop or indie rock (or noise, as I would prefer to call pop's antithesis). They are two sides of the same coin, like the Skeksis and the weird camel people in The Dark Crystal. They need each other so that they have something to identify with and against, something to contrast with. It's a bunch of people saying "I'm Normal'' and a bunch of people saying "I'm Special" and everyone being nothing but what they are.  That being said, this is a mentality that I think is dangerous for young musicians to adopt. The way pop music is made and its intent to be marketed and sold to as many people as possible is poisonous for communities and artists who have ambitions beyond fame. Luckily we all have access to great role models for DIY artists and truly independent people. 

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

Gong Show.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

Hmmm. Maybe I'd cover Kraftwerk's Computer World but do it all with garbage cans and drums. 

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

Yeah, I got fired from Second Cup for having "other priorities." Ambition is not always rewarded. 

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

I strongly relate to all Jedi. The forceit flows through us, binds us together, all dat (takes a hit and falls asleep).

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?

See attached photo.

www.endlessdoldrums.com

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