Vancouver-based husband and wife duo Drew and Danielle McTaggart – Dear Rouge – bring their powerful slate of engaging pop tunes to the International Beer Haus on Oct. 14th.
The couple released their major label debut CD Black To Gold to critical acclaim earlier this year, and they are now hitting the road to promote the project with shows across North America and they head to Europe later this fall.
The tour launches with their performance here, as Danielle hails from Red Deer. “We were very happy with it, and that it happened naturally,” explains Drew of the recording process for Black to Gold. “It was really organic. We didn’t really understand how big it would be, or how much exposure it would get. We hoped for big things, but you never really know so we didn’t really feel that much pressure.”
The disc was actually recorded in 2013, but the couple is thankful for the time they had to spend on it. The last couple of years have been exceptionally busy, so the release date wasn’t immediate as they took up a slate of opportunities that came along with their notable and rapid success.
“Everything was finished except for our latest single Tongues – so it’s the most current song,” said Danielle.
Dear Rouge’s success comes following a non-stop summer itinerary that has seen the couple make festival appearances, and just last month, the couple were named winners of the 2015 SOCAN Songwriting Prize for their hit single I Heard I Had – one of three singles including Best Look Lately and Black To Gold to soar to Top 3 at both alternative and modern rock radio.
They continue to command attention from fans, critics and the industry alike, reaching over three million hits on Spotify and earning high praise for their top-notch, high energy performances and impressive set.
Named one of the 15 most anticipated Canadian indie albums of 2015, Black To Gold is the realization of an artistic vision that spans more than two years in the making, helmed by Drew and producer/engineer Ryan Worseley, with input and influence from Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, Mother Mother) and Gavin Brown (Metric, Billy Talent).
“It’s really cool because we feel like he’s always been a part of our music right on up to this point – he’s a very good friend of ours,” said Danielle of Worseley. “And we’re are very proud of him, because we’ve kind of grown along with him and have been able to see both of our projects kind of take off over the last while.” Drew agreed. “When I offer advice to other musicians about engineers and producers, you just want to make sure that they care. Working with Ryan resulted in the best, most natural music. He would continually think about the songs with us, and he really, really did a fabulous job with them.”
Songwriting continues to be a mysterious albeit inspiring venture. “Sometimes you write a song in two days, and sometimes it takes two months. It’s different with every project,” said Danielle.
Drew pointed out that it’s indeed never a static process. “With every song it’s like meeting a new person – sometimes a song is effortless to write but hard to record. But when we get stuck I feel that we tend to just leave it for a few months. When you spend too much time on it, you get so ‘inside’ the song and it’s hard to hold (the right) perspective. Sometimes an artist can redo a song in the studio over and over again, and the song has no more feeling – it’s kind of dead.”
It was back in the spring of 2012 that Dear Rouge released their debut EP 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 2012. Looking back further, the group got its start in 2009 while Danielle and Drew were touring across Canada, each pursuing their own music projects. Danielle was formally from the band Gaetz Avenue.
“We had mutual friends, and when my band was in Alberta she would come and see us, and when she was in B.C. we would hang out,” explains Drew.
They decided to collaborate in a Vancouver studio where their first song, the single Heads Up! Watch Out! was born.
From that one session, and the response they received after posting it on SoundCloud, it was obvious they had stumbled onto something special.
A love for music was sparked early on in both.
“I grew up in a home where my mom was very much involved in singing and in competitions,” Danielle has observed. “I was always very encouraged by her to sing a lot. I also grew up in the church, so I sang a lot there as well. But I had no idea I could do it as a career until I started to get encouraging comments, like ‘You can really do this’.”
She helped launch Christian band Gaetz Avenue and the group landed considerable success. As time went on, she tried different ventures but things really picked up again when she met Drew. For Drew, he was surrounded by music from the get-go. His dad was a music teacher. His mom taught piano. His brother has a degree in music and his sister loves to sing.
As for the upcoming tour, the couple is thrilled to be headlining. They start in Alberta, head east, then down to the U.S. then head to the west. After that, they journey to Europe for shows in Germany, Switzerland, England and Austria. “It’s going to be amazing – we are really excited,” said Danielle. They’ve certainly found the path that suits them.
“I think it’s what we are supposed to be doing,” said Drew. “We feel most fulfilled when we are doing music.”