Photo by Justin Tyler Close.
Many people use this time of year as a chance to reflect on the last 12 months, but not Dan Burke. Looking ahead to what he predicts will make waves in 2013, the infamous local promoter has teamed up with Pop Montreal to present the band Doom Squad this Friday at the Silver Dollar.
Doom Squad is still under the radar as the year comes to a close, but based on what we've heard of them so far we're inclined to agree with Burke's hunch. The project of three siblings from Montreal - Trevor, Jaclyn and Allie Blumas - Doom Squad combines a strong world music influence with a dark, quasi-mystical bent and a multi-platform aesthetic that stretches beyond audio and into video, visual and performance art.
That might sound a bit too out there to make it outside of art student circles, but the songs they've released so far have shown they also have a knack for melodic hooks and danceable beats, and they sharpening those elements on their upcoming full-length debut, Kalaboogie, recorded with Leon Taheny of Bruce Peninsula and Dusted. Bands like Grimes and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan rose high in 2012, so why not Doom Squad in 2013?
We asked Trevor Blumas to give us what the lowdown on the band and tell us what they have in store for the next year.
How did the band get together?
Well... we are all siblings, so there's that. And we all have different types of musical training. Our Dad was a musician. But Doom Squad was initially conceived over one summer when all three of us were gathered in Vancouver. More so out of pure jokes, we were trying to do this ironic Carter Family folk thing. We put out a 5 song EP called DIE, which had that folky sound. People (friends mostly) seemed to actually dig it and I guess we started to take it a bit more seriously. Then something happened. I don't know what. We just made an abrupt conceptual turn somewhere and went all dark and electronic.
Your music seems to cover a lot of different styles and genres. Do you resist the idea of categorization?
Well, we certainly have a pretty specific agenda with our music. We even wrote a manifesto, more as a creative roadmap to keep ourselves anchored to our main project. I won't really get into what that's all about, but hopefully pieces of it will start to come together as we continue to put out music. We're trying to brand our music as "Shaman Beat." Hopefully that sticks. Ha. But simply, I'd say we're all world music junkies.
I think we're especially inspired by the ways some cultures use music, totally in opposition to our idea of pop music here, as a vehicle to really elevate people into higher registers of consciousness, through repetition, chanting, and trance. Obviously, this isn't anything new to us. But we just weren't seeing it explored and expressed enough here.
The repetitive song structures and long song lengths can be a bit challenging at times. But I think that's kind of the point, to forge new ways of listening to music. So taking that approach to music and merging it with more "western" musical approaches which express similar lofty ideas - experimental, noise, psychedelic and house music for example - became a motivating practice for us.
I've seen Doom Squad mentioned alongside the Heretical Objects Cooperative. What's the connection?
Well, the Heretical Objects Cooperative is a community and network of musicians, visual artists and administrators between Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and we are a part of it. I think it is different than a collective, so to speak, because everyone's art practices are quite different and unique, but the main objective is to help foster constant creativity and encourage artistic output through a support network and through multi-discipline collaboration. Through the Cooperative, we managed to produce some of our music videos (two more are forthcoming) and we've released some of our music through the new micro-label that Heretical Objects just established as well.
Can you share any details about the new album?
This will be our debut LP. It's called Kalaboogie, named after the town up north where our cottage is, where so much of our inspiration comes from. We actually recorded a lot of the record up there, so it just seemed fitting. Leon Taheny, (Bruce Peninsula, Final Fantasy, Dusted) co-produced and mixed the album for us. We are really excited to be working with him. Kalaboogie reinforces and solidifies many of the same themes and sonic explorations we made on Land O' The Silver Birch (our most recent EP), but in a much more developed and totalizing manner.
Is there a story behind the song you've given us, Ovoo?
Ovoo (pronounced "oboo") is a Mongolian shamanic cairn. It's usually made of wood, blue scarf, and rocks. It's probably one of the most beautiful structural compositions I have ever seen. They are used differently in many types of rituals. Coming upon an Ovoo during a journey and circling it will help provide safe direction, strength and spirit. We embraced the idea of circularity for this song, in its structure and such. I know that sounds simple, but we wanted it to feel like a mantra. It's written from the voice of a river. This is perhaps our "poppiest" song.
Do you have anything else planned for 2013?
Besides the spring release of Kalaboogie, we will be touring Europe in the fall. Both Doom and other Heretical Objects artists are in the process of working on a few upcoming art shows in Montreal and Toronto. Also, one of us plays in another band, Wicked
Witches, which is releasing their first EP on cassette on Dec. 14th (also through Heretical Objects).