Vancouver-based husband and wife duo Drew and Danielle McTaggart – Dear Rouge – bring their engaging pop/rock/alternative tunes to Westerner Days July 21st.
Showtime is 8 p.m. on the ENMAX Centrium mainstage.
“It feels awesome,” said Danielle when asked about hitting the stage in her hometown. “I think, in general, when it’s part of your history, there’s something really nostalgic about it.
“It’s so nice to have people there who you care about and who care about you and who have seen your journey,” she added.
“I hope I see people who I haven’t seen in a long time, too – I went to Notre Dame High School, so I hope I see people from there and from my church growing up there, too.”
Since putting out their debut EP in 2012, the couple has been on what has been described as a ‘breathtaking upward trajectory’.
That indie release led to another one, and the accolades began to flood in including a B.C.–based radio award, songwriting prizes, a record deal, singles and a 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year.
The momentum continues with their latest offering Phases – a sleek, polished and thoroughly authentic set of tunes that explore a multitude of themes as only Dear Rouge can do via their unique intensity.
“We felt pretty clear going into the album about what we wanted to do, but it took us a little bit to get there,” explained Drew during a recent chat. “For this album, we tried to search in the corners to try some different stuff.”
That meant diving into the songwriting process with a deliberate sense of freedom.
“Through that process, we wrote and wrote and wrote,” he said. “And we kind of realized the direction that we needed to take, which was not so different from what we had done but just a little higher and deeper than what we were doing.
“This album is a little bit more personal. It’s about the highs and lows of life as we were going through them,” he said “We kept labouring and stumbling towards what we had been picturing in our minds.”
Danielle agreed, adding that the CD also offered collaborations with folks they hadn’t teamed up with before.
“It was definitely a journey of trying to find the next ‘change’ for us. In the end, we are really, really stoked on how it turned out,” she added. “We feel like it was a good journey, that we learned a lot along that way and that it’s definitely a good direction for us.”
Phases certainly is a bold, richly creative disc – never has this gifted duo sounded so strong via their cleverly-crafted tunes and the musical and vocal performances all-around.
“People have said they feel we have gotten more vulnerable with our lyrics,” said Danielle, referring to feedback from fans in the wake of Phases’ release. “So far, people are responding really well. You make what you make, you put it into the world and you hope that people can ‘feel’ through it all. That’s all you can really do. So we are just keeping on that path.”
They also had many songs penned for the project – about 40 or so – but of course had to pare that number down to the usual number that make it onto a finished product.
“We want to share everything with everybody,” explained Drew. “So you just don’t think about it in that way.
“Some songs are very, very obvious. And others aren’t. We had an okay time whittling it down to about 16 – it was pretty clear.”
A bit more about their background – Dear Rouge exploded onto the scene after beating out hundreds of hopefuls with their grand prize win in the 2012 PEAK Performance Project.
They recorded the sparkling I Heard I Had with Vancouver producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan & Sara, Mother Mother), finding him to be a perfect fit for their range and mood-lifting melodies.
And as mentioned, it was back in the spring of 2012 that Dear Rouge released their debut Heads Up! Watch Out! and the response was pretty much immediate.
Only six months after their debut, they followed it up with the Kids Wanna Know EP in October of 2012.
Looking back even further, the group got its start in the summer of 2009 while Danielle and Drew were touring across Canada, each pursuing their own separate music projects.
Meanwhile, both Drew and Danielle feel like they couldn’t be on a more fitting path – as individuals and as one of Canada’s forefront musical couples.
“We want to love people through the gifts that we have,” noted Danielle in observing what keeps them passionate and inspired about what they do. “Making your art and putting it out there makes you feel good. At the same time, it’s also about other people. That’s what keeps us going and what keeps us excited because we are connecting with others.”