By Jess Goulart
All photos courtesy of Doomsquad.
Darkly transcendent and quasi-mystical, the heavily layered electronica of Canadian trio Doomsquad is so visceral that it seems the sounds were crafted in the throes of Shamanic ritual. But, honestly that’s not too disparate from how the music evolved. Siblings Trevor, Jacyln, and Allie Blumas use tribal influences to texture their style and turn the experience of their music into a ceremony. The self-aware sarcasm that marked their first project, a five-song family EP titled DIE, has matured into more meditative, inviting compositions. The transformation will be complete with the February 25th release of their first full-length album Kalaboogie. Doomsquad offers something completely unique with this project by invoking elements from around the world and incorporating dance, video, and performance art into their live shows. BTR caught up with Allie Blumas to chat about building up from a groove.
What brought you guys together?
(laughs) Well, we’re all siblings so…our parents having sex.
Have you always been listening to this kind of music? What are some of your major influences?
Well, world music certainly isn’t just one kind or “type” of music. We use it in the sense that we really make huge efforts to expand our peripheries to broader musical streams. After all, music is still fundamentally a language. Before the strong-arm capitalist leanings of the West reduced it down to chewable bite size mcnuggets, music was and still is a folk tradition. That’s the way we try to conceive our own music. To plug into the beautiful, unified, and empowered mosaic of international music. People like Joe Strummer and his BBC radio show “London Calling”, Peter Gabriel’s Real World [Studios] imprint, or anything David Byrne does, says, or expresses. His Luaka Bop Records was something that made us realize the incredible unified global buzzzzz that comes from reaching beyond borders and closed networks to an international level for new music and inspiration.
At what point do you think you evolved away from your folk roots?
We still haven’t. Electronic music is very much a type of folk music in other parts of the world, maybe just not Canada or America. In fact, with all the technology that exists today and its rather broad accessibility, electronic music might just be one of the most democratizing forms of music – it places all the tools to create a total art directly into the hands of the artist. Bedroom producers becoming global sensations overnight. And now people from some of the most remote places on the planet can produce music, upload it onto the internet, and share it with the world. I mean, you can still do that with a voice and a guitar, and that is beautiful and real, but so is electronic music. And sometimes it can be a much greater and holistic expression.
How is Kalaboogie different from albums past?
Well it’s our debut album so there really is no previous standard set. We have released a bunch of EPs and singles, but much of that came from the same session as the album. The only thing that sits entirely on its own is our first EP, Land O’ The Silver Birch, which we’re still really proud of. But like most first musical efforts, it’s us exploring our voice and experimenting with ideas.
Kalaboogie album art.
Any particular vibe you’re going for?
Astral Projections and Shamanic Journeying.
What is the writing process like for your music?
There is no songwriter. Everything just builds up from a groove, like a skeleton of drum and bass, and then we kinda flesh it out from there. Mostly though, our songs are inspired by a particular place or psychic space, and that helps dictate the kinds of sounds and tones we draw from. Like the color choices in a surreal landscape.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Any particularly creative/inspired moments off this upcoming album?
We have lots of rituals and exercises we invoke to get ourselves into a creative head space. It can be really hard in the city sometimes, but we try and construct an environment around us that is conducive to creativity. Thus far, we have recorded everything ourselves either in our jam space/basement of our house in Toronto, or up at a cottage in beautiful Northern Ontario. Because of that, we have the luxuries of doing things our way, and on our own time. We create the elements, so many inspired moments found themselves on the record.
There are a lot of varying textures to your songs, do you find your recorded work to be much different from your live shows?
No actually. That’s the beauty behind the way we recorded it and the nature behind the equipment we use. Not much of our recorded sound is lost in translation to the live setting. Except for some subtle intricacies. But we like to think that whatever is lost, an equal amount is gained through other things in our live show. We see ourselves as mostly a live band.
You guys are about to tour, any places you’re really looking forward to?
Albuquerque! We have a bunch of friends there, and the image they paint of the place makes it look like this wonderful, mystical terrain. Oh and Marfa! We’re desert beings!
Can you share a favorite band moment with me?
We recently had the privilege of taking part in this monthly music/art series hosted by the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). They kinda gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted, so we decided to construct this giant chicken-wire cocoon like structure. Then we invited one of our biggest musical inspirations, Not The Wind, Not The Flag, to join us for a one-hour straight live improvised jam inside the cocoon. While we played we had some friends wrap the structure in a translucent plastic sheeting. It was so much fun and so thrilling. Definitely a musical highlight for us. At one point, you know, I looked over at my sisters, and Brandon and Colin from NTW, NTF and just saw how connected we all were, how plugged in we were to this thing we we’re collectively producing. It was pretty spiritual. That certainly made us realize we we’re doing the right thing. There was no doubt after that.
Doomsquad’s cellophane cocoon.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Ya…um….DIG THIS OR DIE
Or check them out live at one of these dates:
February 22 – The Artel – Kingston, Canada
February 23 – The Comfort Zone – Toronto, Canada
March 2 – The Forum – Buffalo, NY
March 4 – The Cakeshop – New York, NY
March 5 – Club K – Baltimore, MD