Laid-back roots music and story songs are on the menu Sunday evening at Pressed: Winnipeg’s Roger Roger, comprising twin siblings Lucas and Madeleine Roger are playing. Apt613 caught up with Madeleine Roger from a campsite on Pancake Bay to learn more about growing up in recording studios, the magic of sibling harmonies and the joys of touring.
The duo bring a decidedly folk roots sound with hints of the Band, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings’ with their vocal harmonies and loose, earthy feel. There’s also a clear influence of poppier songwriters closer to home like Ron Sexsmith, Sarah Harmer and Kathleen Edwards. What really stands out though is their natural affinity for singing and playing with one another. “It’s funny the things that you really notice are pronunciation and where consonants fall,” Madeleine says. “If singing with somebody else, I find I need to watch somebody’s mouth a lot to make sure I’m hitting things at the same moment but with Lucas and I it just happens because we speak similarly to begin with.”
Growing up around their father’s recording studios, their childhood was unusually steeped in music. “Sometimes if they’d be making a decision about what vocal take to use or something they would pull either Lucas or myself into the studio and say hey, what do you guys think do you have a favourite between these two takes?” recalls Madeleine.
And though they each took up playing and writing, joining forces came later. For a while they followed their own paths: she was a theater artist and he was working in kitchens and rebuilding hot rods before getting into guitar building. When they started collaborating, it was almost by fluke. “I was playing my new songs at home and Lucas overheard them and asked me to teach them to him,” Madeleine says. “I hadn’t really told anyone that I was writing yet but he was the first to find out. We booked a show right away and then out of that show came a few more and then out of each of those shows came a couple more.” Before long, it was time to record an album. So they enlisted their father as producer and got down to work.
In Roger Roger, the siblings’ distinct writing styles meet: his rock’n’roll leanings, and her love for stories. Lucas’ dark “Mad Trapper” finds a home alongside Madeleine’s short stories like “O Rainy Day,” that tells the story of Austrian painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser who painted from a sailboat and found inspiration in rainy, overcast skies or “Scot Free” about a woman starting over after learning of her husband’s secret life of crime.
Roger Roger’s debut Fairweather came out this past January and the duo have been on the road much of the timesince. Already they’ve covered most of the country save the East Coast. Asked what comes next, Madeleine is happy to say, “Basically more touring and more of the same of this marvelous situation we’ve landed in, of playing a lot of shows and meeting lots of neat people.”