With their wondrous and eclectic debut LP Kalaboogie, DOOMSQUAD captured both the fluttering of curious birds and the faceless fires of industry in a sound that blended the mercurial with the mysterious. It was an ambitious work of art founded on a set of principles shared by three siblings, and represented an ethos that was as much
Noted: Does Doomsquad operate as a dictatorship or as a democracy when it comes to musical direction?
Jacklyn Blumas: Democracy 100%! We try our hardest to embrace new ideas and recognize change in ourselves and the direction the band is moving. That being said, our musical direction can be a bit of a dictatorship. There is only one way to pursue your passions and it is not democracy. Say out loud and repeat: FUCK YOU FEAR!
Noted: How similar were your musical interests growing up – were there any stark differences which have transposed into your eclectic sound, or were you all into different types of music? I imagine there’s quite a lot of crossover.
Jacklyn: Cross over yes, but for the most part we share a very similar inspiration from performers and music that moves us. Our father was a drummer so we grew up listening to a lot of percussive music from all over the world. I would say my sister Alla rocks the folk and jazz a little more than the rest of us, whilst Trev is always ordering rare, experimental, retro French or German vinyls. I probably jam the psy-rock or house music the most. Having said that, all three of us can get down with any genre of music; we love trying to dissect music that seems so foreign from anything we’ve heard before. Speaking of music I’ve never heard before: Pharmonkon! Gah! Holy! Wow. We’ve been listening to her record on repeat during our last tour. She is truly unique and amazing.
Noted: Much like the Bee Gees and Boards of Canada – you’re a group of siblings. How did this family collaboration come about – was it something you naturally gravitated towards growing up or was it more of a conscious decision later in life?
Jacklyn: Boards of Canada are siblings?! Cool! Well, when were living in different cities for a period of six years, Trev and Al came to visit me in Vancouver where I was going to school at the time. They spent a month at my place and we wrote a couple of folk tunes. We managed to convince a friend to let us open for their show on main street before we even had a full set. It was mostly improv but some really special songs came out of that, so we recorded a five song EP over the Christmas holidays. It was home-made folk, which is why we thought calling ourselves DOOMSQUAD seemed appropriate. Our first EP was called DIE.
Things evolved in our sound album obviously, but we still feel like the exact same band. And our manifesto hasn’t changed at all. We slowly got introduced to Moroccan trance music and found it a huge outlet for expressing parts of ourselves we didn’t know how to release. We bought a sampler at the same time, and things sort of evolved from there. We were following the idea of DOOMSQUAD without really knowing where it was gonna take us.
Noted: Kalaboogie is the name of the town where your family cottage is located. Is it fair to say that location and earthly surroundings is a significant influence on the type of music you make?
Jacklyn: Totally! Calabogie is the name of the town. But it wasn’t really as much the town as it was the location and the nature that thrives in this region.
There is something important to be learned from different landscapes. Up north we have a special relationship with the particular boreal forest where our cottage once was. Something we noticed was that forests seem to offer fear and refuge at the exact same time, which is what making this record felt like, or what any passionate collaborative project might feel like to anyone. When we started focusing on these similarities, songs really started evolving quickly.
We slowly got introduced to Moroccan trance music and found it a huge outlet for expressing parts of ourselves we didn’t know how to release.
Noted: The album cover shows a woman and small child on the precipice of what appears to be an autumnal web of trees. Is there deeper significance here given the organic backbone which props up Kalaboogie?
Jacklyn: Amazing hard work and talent from Toronto artist Randy Grskovic went into all the album art, so we really can’t take much credit for it. We approached Randy because we love all the things he creates, and we appreciate his brain in general. In developing the cover we had a lot of back and forth over emails describing the vibe we were going for and the types of images we wanted to included. Randy had a lot of time to listen to the album in early stages and we really love the way he represented it.
Essentially, our idea of trying to achieve a new Canadiana mythology on Kalaboogie finally found its crystallization through Randy’s collages which he took from 1960s travel books on Canada, I believe. Also, we all kinda liked the ambiguity of the people who appear to be wandering or gazing off into some kind of vast abyss or confronting the void or what have you. Deep stuff, ha.
Noted: At times, you fill every last inch of space with all manner of sounds, samples and surprises, yet you also take time to step back and breathe. How did you achieve such a wide range of textures? What was your recording process with regards to technical workflow?
Jacklyn: An incredibly organic process of experimenting and releasing shaped the space and layers on the tracks. We spent a lot of time contextualizing on what we wanted each song to feel like. Since we recorded the whole record ourselves we had all the time in the world to figure out exactly that; there was no pressure of being in a studio with a budget or a time constraint. The songs are developed in a synchronistic relationship between jamming one element for hours, then carefully choosing the most appropriate parts to record.
Noted: I hear trip-hop, drone, world, chanting and all kinds of other sub-genres and artistic styles throughout the record – is this diversity something you consider to be essential when composing your music?
Jacklyn: We listen to everything, and we are also sponges for things that we dig so hard. So what you hear in our sound is most likely a bit of everything that has moved us in some way. The chanting is a way to intensify our physical relationship to the music, and the trip-hop and drone helps ease your body till it melts into to the music like water. There is such a physical response to music and lately we’ve been really aware of that.
Noted: You’ve mentioned before that you even wrote a manifesto to keep you tethered to your musical agenda. Can you go into detail?
Jacklyn: The manifesto is hard to discuss, because its an inherent mutual agreement we all share as siblings. But its underlying values come from the beats and rhythms that we make. We can tell you that the manifesto is repetitive, like a mantra. There is so much to be expressed and experienced in repetition, and as change occurs in a pattern we try our best to honor it.
Another element to the manifesto is the reminder to look inward and understand that we are all instruments, so we must ask questions like “Who am I?”, and “How do I use my energy?”.
Lastly, there is a holistic philosophy behind it all, a type of social/historical databasing we work through as we try to achieve a certain point of unity and oneness within all music. A multi-cultural convergence if you will. Hence the broad inclusion of genres, rhythms and styles. We’ve been giving you hints/phrases of this manifesto in this entire interview.
Noted: Has this mission statement changed? Do you feel you have honoured that initial road-map? Following the release of Kalaboogie, is there anything you’re likely to add in? Theoretically, of course.
Jacklyn: It was like we were following this idea that we fully hadn’t understood, it was taking us to new perspectives and carrying us through experience. We knew what we wanted to say while creating that record, but it isn’t till now that we have come to understand why. Music unites people, and that was all we needed to figure out.
The world around us will always evolve, and because of that DOOMSQUAD will constantly be moving in new directions. But, just like a drum or a rattle, this constant underlying pulse representing the collective core of our beliefs keeps beating, and that will never change.
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