Calgary, Alberta

Before attending a local house show featuring artists from the music collective Fossil Records, I got a chance to catch up with a good friend of mine, Philip Van Hooft, the main songwriter behind the new four-piece indie outfit, the Dabdorians.

Van Hooft, 23, grew up in Calgary with his sister, Alida, and parents, Brent and Cynthia.  Alida sang opera, Cynthia played piano, Brent was a multi-instrumentalist who cherished playing organ and autoharp, and Philip picked up the guitar.  

“My mom grew up playing piano, and she passed away when I was 16.  That kind of kicked me into writing as a method for me to cope,” Van Hooft explained to me, with a slight crack in his voice.  

As I sat listening, I instantly gained a great respect for Van Hooft.  He is always sharing a full smile, a warm vibe, and a friendly presence.  I can only imagine the great pain that Cynthia’s passing brought to his family, but I am witnessing, first-hand, the therapeutic qualities of music.  

If you see Van Hooft kicking it around town, playing gigs at the regular spots, don’t mistake what you see for a typical start-up project, stemming from a hobby with the homies.  What we experience at Dabdorians’ shows truly is the physical embodiment of Cynthia’s spirit, carried through the soul-stirring writings of her son.  

If you have seen the Dabdorians live, you will likely remember a tantalizing track entitled Black Sand, which features some incredible bass licks and lead female vocals from Taylor Fensury.  When I asked Van Hooft about the origins of this particular track, he began outlining the early part of his adulthood for me.  

“I was out of work, super broke, and uncertain of what I was going to do,” recalls Van Hooft.  

He goes on to explain that his brother hooked him up with a job digging ditches for water services in Sparwood, British Columbia.  Allegedly, when you strike black sand, it is a sign that you should start looking for gold.  

During the breakdown of the song, Fensury and Van Hooft bellow out: “Below black sand, there slept a stone that you’d kill for.”  Along with the rowdy drumlines from percussionist Andrew Ellergodt, and the slick lead guitar finesse of Graham Fox, the track swoons full circle back to the chill, funky bass line, and leaves you with an unmistakable flavour of sweet rock ‘n’ roll.

The Dabdorians are in the process of recording their debut full-length album, titled Stepfather.  The 11-12 track LP will be a concept album, inspired by the band La Dispute and their uncanny ability to record entire albums surrounding a single, elaborate story.  

Stepfather will be based on a father, whose wife and child are killed in a car accident, and his obsession with a young girl he meets later in his life.  I won’t spoil the plot twist, but just know that it takes a grisly turn.  The album will be released in December 2017.

by Taylor Odishaw-Dyck (Local Drop Mag)