Congratulations – you’ve survived a brutal January!
Now it’s time to break out of your hibernation and take full advantage of the best Ottawa has to offer with Winterlude. This year has a variety of new activities, but one you definitely will not want to miss is the Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat festival’s slate of free concerts February 8 and 9.
Following in the footsteps of their summer festival, the Dragon Boat Festival team has put together a great mix of local talent including ex-Balconies Jacquie Neville, Jeremy Fisher, Silent Winters, Trails, Welcome The Ghost, Old Man Grant and Mosely, as well as top Canadian headliners Bedouin Soundclash and Dear Rouge.
Vancouver’s Dear Rouge is no stranger to Ottawa. Not only did they play Bluesfest this past summer, they were also in town with Lights at Algonquin Commons Theatre last April. Judging by the fan reaction, Ottawa can’t seem to get enough of Dear Rouge either. Their last local show in October was originally planned for the 27 Club, but sold out so fast that it was moved to the Bronson Centre. The Juno-winning Vancouver-based husband-and-wife duo wowed the crowd yet again, with a set that blended the best of their two albums, as well as a cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” that had the fans singing along. Based on the connection between lead singer Danielle McTaggart’s boundless energy and the crowd, and husband Drew’s touching story about how the band broke through on Live 88.5, it’s clear Ottawa and Dear Rouge have a special connection.
We caught up with Danielle McTaggart in the Vancouver studio to chat about the show, the album, and what’s next for Dear Rouge.
Apt613: Your last show was originally planned for the 27 Club, but was moved to the Bronson Centre due to overwhelming demand; however, the stage space lent itself much better for your performance.
Danielle: Well I definitely think that our music lends itself to a large space and I love using space like that – I love full expression to use all elements or aspects of a show to get the song’s meaning across and bring people in, so I love bigger stages. It makes a lot of sense for what we make to perform on a larger stage.
In terms of the album, first of all, congratulations on all the success with Phases album, and officially your first #1 hit, Live Through The Night.
You’ve managed to hit a sweet spot in that the album is very well polished, but the sincerity in the songs still comes through, which sometimes can be a bit challenging. When it comes time to the actual production, how’s the back-and-forth between the band, the producer, and the label?
For us, we try to keep an open mind, and in the end, it comes down to Drew and I’s taste and what we want to hear. But we involve our guys that play with us (Jordan Kern and Stefan Tavares) to help us out because they know our sound so well, and then the producers that we work with had great instincts, so it’s just trying to make sure that we get the emotion around it, but still incorporate those ideas.
It can be challenging, but our main focus was getting the emotion across in a cool way, and I think we achieved that with all the insights from everybody. It takes a group effort to make something good, and with the people we asked to be involved, that happened and I’m really grateful for everybody that offered their creative input. But in the end, it ends up being mostly Drew and I, and we don’t seem to fight that often, so it’s going really well.
You’ve been on this constant trajectory upwards, so the question is, what will be the next single, and is this all more pressure for the next album?
I think that we’ve learned how to sift through the pressure aspect of it now, and definitely learned that, you know how they say the second album is the one where you really have to figure it out, and there was a lot of pressure on us that way. I do think we experienced that. We wrote like 40 demos, and had a lot of influences that came in and worked with us on the record, and I think we learned through that experience that we just had to trust our own instincts, and so with the next album, I feel like we’ll feel a lot more secure in what we want to make and be able to sift through some of the other voices or pressures.
The next single is Modern Shakedown, which went to radio last week, but it’s funny because we had the Chains video sitting there that we loved, we had just released the one with the wolves, and so we were like ‘Chains is going to be the single’ and then we decided against it as a team, but we had that video, so we released the video anyway and went to radio with Modern Shakedown within the same week. So the video ended up being something for the fans, and not necessarily the single.
In terms of upcoming plans, you’ve done the first headlining tour for the album, so what’s on tap for this summer and fall? Another tour? Festivals?
We’re doing a lot of festivals. In March, we’re opening for the Arkells in the States, since we’re trying to get down to the States a bit more and be more involved there. This summer we’re playing some great festivals which should be announced soon. We’ve started writing for our new project, so it’s in our minds always, trying to get new songs down, so we’ll be focusing more on that this fall, and if there are more opportunities to tour again in the States, we might do that.
The Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival takes place February 8 and 9 at Dow’s Lake. Free concerts will be held inside at Dow’s Lake Pavilion. Check out the schedule online and below:
Friday February 8: Jacquie Neville at 8:15pm, Bedouin Soundclash at 9:30pm
Saturday February 9: Mosely at 1pm, Old Man Grant at 2:15pm, Welcome The Ghost at 3:30pm, Trails at 4:45pm, Silent Winters at 6pm, Jeremy Fisher at 8:15pm, and Dear Rouge 9:30pm.