“The combination of mess and chaos has been one of the things I’ve been most interested in,” says Airick Woodhead, the primary songwriter and producer behind Doldrums. The freewheeling Montreal-based electronic pop group is freshly signed to the iconic rock label Sub Pop and has just released its new record, The Air Conditioned Nightmare, on April 7, 2015. “With psychedelic music, it’s often what you read into it rather than what it tells you. So even though there’s more information, it leaves more up to the listener.”
Named after the 1945 Henry Miller book, The Air Conditioned Nightmare brings to mind the image of a dystopian present where even temporary discomfort is an inconvenience to be avoided at all costs. But for all the technological conceits of the title, Woodhead’s lyrics revolve around human interactions, romantic entanglements and the uneasy dynamics of contemporary urban life.
We’re at this time where a lot of music is being really explicit about its themes. I still like the idea of the songwriter addressing issues thematically [but] still having a romanticism in whatever themes you’re addressing.
“We’re at this time where a lot of music is being really explicit about its themes. I still like the idea of the songwriter addressing issues thematically [but] still having a romanticism in whatever themes you’re addressing.”
Woodhead’s previous effort, 2013’s Lesser Evil, emerged from the backdrop of a burgeoning loft party scene in Montreal that found musicians of various genres playing mixed bills at all-night gatherings and drawing inspiration from club music, like a 21st century version of Manchester’s rave scene. Airick Woodhead lived in one such venue, the legendary Le Rideau déchiré (the Torn Curtain).
“I still jam at Torn [Curtain]. I definitely reminisce about that one summer that was fucking crazy every weekend, like 500 people,” says Woodhead. “Having a setting for your music is the most important thing. Having a venue especially makes for the most fertile ground for creativity because you have people [performing] and you have an audience. There gets to be some communication there. It sets the parameters for necessary creativity.”
A jumble of distorted samples, ethereal vocals and electronic noise that sounds like the damaged laptop it came from, Lesser Evil figured amongst the second wave of physical releases to come from Montreal’s Arbutus Records, a cadre of Mile End pop futurists with divergent sounds but a similar ethos and aesthetic. But since that time, the principal figures have been largely absent from the city, be it due to touring obligations or relocation.
“I don’t think I would’ve been able to make records at all if it hadn’t been for the support of people like Seb [Cowan, CEO of Arbutus Records] and Claire [Boucher, of Grimes]. I don’t think the music would’ve sounded the way it did if it wasn’t for Kyle [Jukka, from Pop Winds and Flow Child], Tim [Lafontaine, from Cop Car Bonfire] and Sami [Blanco].”
The Air Conditioned Nightmare is a deeper listen than Lesser Evil, a distinctively more mature and organic statement that draws from the considerable mixing talents of Damian Taylor (Björk, Arcade Fire) and Shawn Everett (Julian Casablancas, Weezer). The Air Conditioned Nightmare occasionally sounds like the soundtrack to the after-party at the end of the world. This shift has a lot to do with Woodhead moonlighting as a DJ in recent years.
“I have so much respect for having a honed, cohesive DJ set,” says Woodhead. “It’s more about learning about genre in general, in terms of electronic music… Getting into tools a bit more in that way, drum sounds and patterns, things like that. Deconstructing techno has been the most creative thing for me.”
Album opener “HOTFOOT” is the closest Woodhead gets to replicating the frenetic live energy of the afterhours events he arose from – a raging storm of digital screams, cymbal crashes and skittering techno rhythms.
“I would love for Doldrums to sound like the house band at the Montreal weird loft party. That’s all I care about.”
The meaning of Jazz Cartier’s Fleurever is rooted in duality. In the two years since his sophomore mixtape, Hotel Paranoia, the artist has had to “[battle] the balances of love and money, risks and rewards, right and wrong, or living and dying”, alongside coming to terms with the throes of wealth and fame. Subsequently Fleurever—or, as he calls it, his “third project”—explores Cartier’s personal growth in the years following. With his newfound maturity in tow, Toronto’s rising rap star is on course to start a music revolution—well, that’s the idea anyway. Georgie caught up with Cartier to talk about gratitude, the rapper’s personal transformation, and the driving force behind Fleurever. G—Can you tell us a bit about your latest album Fleurever and the inspiration behind it? JC—Most of the inspiration came from growth, and a bit from my departure from Toronto. A lot of the record was made in my last days in Toronto, and just having that cloud over my head and knowing that I’d be leaving soon—it was more so showing my affection for the city that pretty much shaped my sound. G—Did you have a vision in mind when you started writing this album? JC—For the most part Fleurever is just myself and my
When asked to describe herself in three words, Nina Nesbitt didn’t hesitate. “Introverted, creative, and driven”. While you wouldn’t guess the former from her edgy, empowering tracks—her latest single “Loyal To Me” is a girl-power anthem, rallying women to ditch their unfaithful partners—the latter two can’t be questioned. In the six years since she was discovered in an unplanned encounter with Ed Sheeran, Nesbitt has released three EPs and one full length album; toured with Sheeran, Justin Bieber, and U.K rapper Example; and carved her way into the alt-pop scene with a harmonious blend of groove and grit. Earlier this year, the Edinborough-native was one of three emerging female artists chosen to partake in Spotify’s “Louder Together” initiative, recording the first collaborative Spotify single (“Psychopath”) with Sasha Sloan and Charlotte Lawrence, and showcasing her signature style of thoughtful messages pulsating atop hook-driven melodies. With her sophomore album ready to drop, Georgie spoke with Nesbitt about her experience being thrust into the spotlight and maintaining her creative independence throughout it all. G—You’ve been touring a lot this year, specifically in North America. How have your North American audiences been receiving your shows? Is it different than performing for UK audiences?
Named for the Toronto area they grew up in, The Beaches are a far cry from a placid day on the lake. Led by singer/bassist Jordan Miller—with her sister and guitarist Kylie Miller, guitarist/keyboardist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel—the Canadian four-piece burst out of Toronto with their 2018 debut, Late Show, and have since built up an aura of dissident swagger. Taking home this year’s Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the all-fem rock quartet is bringing grunge, gloss, and 70s glamour to a predominantly male genre. Georgie caught up with Leandra to talk about the band’s latest music video, taking charge of their music, and three simple ways to keep women in the industry. G—Did you grow up together in Toronto? LE—Yeah, I met the girls in high school. Jordan and Kylie are sisters, so they’ve known each other a bit longer, but they grew up with Eliza in Toronto’s Beaches area. G—What kind of music were you listening to at that time? LE—We grew up listening to all of the music our parents listened to. That definitely influenced us while writing our debut album since we drew from a lot of the 70’s music that our