Q&A: Dear Rouge ‘Do It’ Up Right in 2014


When Riffyou.com spoke with Dear Rouge at the tail end of 2013, the band – Danielle and Drew McTaggart – were working on DEAR ROUGE 2014 Photo 1introducing themselves to a wider public. Together and apart, the duo had spent a ton of time playing through the Canadian music scene, but had yet to achieve any true notoriety.

However, as 2014 got underway, the year soon began to go the band’s way. Their infectious pop-rock single, “I Heard I Had,” became a hard-to-avoid crossover radio hit. That, and it just became one of those hook-centric songs that don’t easily abandon the brain.

Subsequently, Dear Rouge would get on the road; get in the faces of eager audiences and eventually land a deal with Universal Music Canada.

Recently, Riffyou.com caught up with Danielle and Drew to speak about the year that was; getting major label support; what their new album will sound like; and their most stressful winter touring experience.

RY: Around this point last year, we spoke with Drew just as “I Heard I Had” began to emerge. Looking back to where you were then, compared to where you are now, what comes to mind? And how have you seen yourselves change? 

Drew: “We are extremely grateful. Most bands don’t get this opportunity so early on in their career. We saw so much change. It was truly a game changer. A few of the biggest [changes] for us were the opportunities that came after that all happened. We got better shows, signed with Universal, had the opportunity to do a lot of press, and even the writers and producers that came to the table after the fact were higher in caliber. A lot of people don’t know what to do to create success these days in the music industry. I think we proved that we could write good songs and people were listening. When that happened the doors opened up for us. That song got to #3 on Canadian modern rock charts for the whole year and we ended up the #12 most played artist for the year [in Canada]. That was amazing to find out. Again, we are very thankful for all the support.”

RY: The staying power of “I Heard I Had” has been remarkable. What do you think it is about that song that’s allowed it carry with it such a life?

Danielle: “I think people were wanting that sound when it came out. A lot of bands with female singers in our genre this last year, weren’t creating new music. I think the timing was right. Also I think it’s a catchy song…people like to sing the ‘do it’ part. One more thing I think really helped is we worked at our relationships across the country. We have amazing support from radio and fans. You can never forget how fans give you your career. With out them, we don’t get to do this.”

RY: Have you become sick of the song yet, or does it keep changing for you along the way?

Drew: “We have heard performers we respect say that you end up loving your hits because they gave you the gift of doing music as a career. That’s how we feel. We love ‘I Heard I Had. It has a great energy for us! And we love how our fans sing along. That’s the best!”

RY: You’ve had 2 EPs already as Dear Rouge, plus time in other musical settings ahead of this one. What is it like to now finally have some steady momentum on your side?

Danielle: “Honestly we thought it was done for us. Dear Rouge was our last big swing. Not that we didn’t believe in ourselves, it’s just that from our experience it’s a very difficult industry. We had our first EP just sitting there. We entered into a radio contest called the Peak Performance Project last minute. We worked hard and ended up winning, but were surprised. When we won it, gave us the momentum we needed to go for it. We just feel like we’ve got to keep working hard.”

RY: Recently, you signed a deal with Universal Music Canada. As a band that’s managed to succeed in the independent circuit, how does (or will) a label affiliation affect your process? 

Drew: “Universal is an amazing label. As much as major labels can get a bad rap these days, we have found the team to be very involved and it really feels right. I think there will be more steps to releasing material, but hopefully it will be in a much more professional, world class way.”

RY: In an era where bands are able to put out music in so many different ways, why did you decide that a major label was in your best interest? 

Danielle: “Our end goals and how we have taken risks with our career made us want to jump in. We also have champions at that label as well, which gives us the feeling that it’s not just a big machine. We didn’t go into the decision lightly though. I think who ever you partner your life with, it should be a big decision.”

RY: It’s been noted that a new album is in the works. What can you tell us about its direction? Also, do you have a title for it and an idea in terms of when it’ll be released?

Drew: “Yes it is! We have had it sitting there for a bit, but it just hasn’t felt right to release it quite yet. We have a lot of other songs in the works that could be added to the album at this point as well. But, you can watch for the album in the New Year. The record is called Black to Gold, and it’s an alternative album with a more positive side.”

RY: With the current focus on your band, what statement do you hope to make with the next album? What do you want it to say?

Danielle: “We want it to be an honest representation of where we were when we made it. We wrote most of the album at a family music-dear-rouge2cabin. We locked ourselves away and wrote music that we felt moved by at that point in our lives. Some songs are super deep and some songs just made us happy. The album doesn’t have one common theme, but it does have a very specific season of our lives recorded. We feel so excited about the album. It’s going to be amazing. We worked with Howard Redicop (Tegan & Sara, Mother Mother) Gavin Brown (Metric, Billy Talent) and Ryan Worlsey. These guys challenged us. We made some great music together.”

RY: You’re being brave by touring during the Canadian winter. What’s your strangest/scariest/weirdest/funniest cold-weather touring experience?

Drew: “Thank you,” laughs. “We named our first tour van Rosie. She was an old 1990s tour van with pink curtains and luxury seating. The only down side to Rosie was the stirring. She had horrible reaction time when you turned the wheel. We also had a similar era trailer. We we’re driving through the mountains and it was snowing like crazy. Every time we took a corner, I would gasp and the trailer would sway back and forth like a snake. The guys would make a hissing sound like a snake to freak me out,” laughs. “It wasn’t necessarily the wisest time to drive through the mountains. The guys told me afterward that they were freaked out too…they were just better at hiding it I guess.”

RY: What advice would you like to give other bands that are getting in the van and plowing through the snow from city to city?

Danielle: “We would say bring layers and get yourself some winter tires. Maybe some curtains if you want to be cool like us.”

-Adam Grant

Tour Dates:
12/02 – Hamilton, ON – The Casbah” – Buy Tickets
12/03 – St. Catharines, ON – Detour Music Hall” – Buy Tickets
12/04 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Hall*” – Buy Tickets
12/05 – Kingston, ON – The Mansion*” – Buy Tickets
12/06 – Montreal, QC – Quai des Brumes*” – Buy Tickets
12/09 – Winnipeg, MB – The Garrick Centre^ – Buy Tickets
12/10 – Saskatoon, SK – Louis’ Club^ – Buy Tickets
12/11 – Calgary, AB – Flames Central^ – Buy Tickets
12/12 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite^ – Buy Tickets
12/14 – Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre’ – Buy Tickets
12/15 – Victoria, BC – Sugar Nightclub – Buy Tickets

(*) W/ Wildlife
(“) W/ Le Trouble
(^) Jingle Bell Rock W/ Phantogram & Mounties
( ‘ ) W/ Phantogram & Mounties

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