Winning a 2016 Juno Award for Top Breakthrough Band may have come as a positive boost for Danielle and Drew McTaggart, known to the Canadian music industry as Dear Rouge but the Vancouver-based husband and wife pair knew they couldn’t rest on the laurels of the initial success generated by their debut album, `Black To Gold’ in moving forward with their career.
“There’s a lot of excitement in winning awards, it’s an honour that we received such recognition but with that comes the pressure of asking ourselves how can we do better next time, so Danielle and I tried not to think of any pressure. We just moved forward and tried to build on the momentum we had created,” explained McTaggart on the phone from the duo’s Vancouver home base.
With the video and single release of “Boys & Blondes”, from their next album `Phases’, due out in January and national March/April tour dates with Lights (launching March 27th at McEwan Hall Calgary), Dear Rouge are excited about a more developed sound for their new release that was shaped and formed during time they spent In New York City.
“Living in New York to work on new material for the album was a big time move for us,” McTaggart admitted. “Vancouver was our comfort zone we have our family there and an industry there which accepts us. Moving to New York was like being a kid at his first day in high school. New York is so intimidating and so big. No one there knew who we were, it was almost like starting from scratch again.”
He notes that the change of scenery gave Dear Rouge a fresh writing perspective, something that inspired them to take steps to sound like a deeper band.
“It was important for our thought process in recording this new album, we had to clear our heads of our previous successes McTaggart explained. “When you start to rest on your laurels and just enjoy what you achieved on your last album, it’s easy to get ahead of yourselves.
Working again with Ryan Worsley (who produced and co-wrote material off Black To Gold) but also with fresh insights supplied by the likes of Steve Bays, Tawg Salter, Mike Wise and Dan Mangan, the McTaggarts immersed themselves into the New York scene, rounding out new material with an input from a whole new perspective.
Which is where the Gloss And Grit comparison comes in. “I don’t think our developing sound is a complete 180 degrees change from our previous album but we think our new mantra reflects the gloss of Danielle’s vocals and our synth arrangements and more grit from my guitar playing. Some people would prefer more pop gloss and others prefer more rock grit but Danielle and I think we have found the right balance.”
With the kick off single being a heavily New York-influenced “Blondes & Boys”, which packs a strong female empowerment message, according to Danielle McTaggart, Dear Rouge showcase a more developed musical progression with “Live Through The Night” and “Wicked Thing” reflecting her more darker psychic recesses and a poignant “Stolen Days” written as a tribute to Drew’s cousin who passed away during the making of their sophomore album.
Understanding that Dear Rouge have been hard to pigeon hole, it seems almost fitting that they are touring with Lights, another artist who doesn’t really fit any specific category.
“Lights challenges her audience and I like to think we do too,” McTaggart explained. “Touring with her has put pressure on us to develop our live show and now we are working at getting everyone in the room involved. It’s not just the first number of rows of an audience but everyone, even those people at the back of the hall. When you can reach those people and get them involved. Then you know you are getting somewhere.”