Dear Rouge SBays May 2023-1-99 - WEB copySteve Bays

“Goon,” the new single from JUNO Award-winning Canadian alternative-rock duo Dear Rouge, is a roaring, stroppy, and energetic track that comes crashing into listeners’ ears, vividly capturing the frustration of dealing with unwanted individuals who keep resurfacing in life. Produced by Gus van Go (The Beaches, Metric, Sam Roberts Band), “Goon” was released earlier this year via Pheromone Recordings / Cadence Music Group and all streaming platforms.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Danielle McTaggart, one half of Dear Rouge, about the inspiration behind “Goon,” the band’s creative process, and their journey in the music industry.

“It was pretty cool. When I was writing the lyrics for it, I was like, ‘We should call the song Go On.’ And Drew was like, ‘Why don’t we just put it together and call it Goon?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s perfect,’” Danielle shared. “I got the idea from a trip I went on with a friend. We went to Europe and did a bunch of amazing stops there. We went to Paris, and in Paris we were zipping around. You could rent these little scooters through Uber and you could rip around the city.”


It was during this trip that Danielle found herself in a pub with two guys who wouldn’t leave her and her friend alone. “It was kind of freaky, actually. We were like, ‘Go away.’ I had to stand my ground and be like, ‘We’re married. We don’t want it.’ We kind of just stood up for ourselves. And then the light bulb of creativity went on, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is kind of a cool song idea,’ just based on how many times in our lives we’re in situations where we could just get that thing out of our way – a person, an ex, a way of thinking, some of the monsters in our minds – and they keep popping up wherever you go.”

Dear Rouge, composed of Vancouver natives Danielle and Drew McTaggart, burst onto the music scene in 2012 with the release of their debut album Black To Gold (2015), followed by the release of PHASES (2018) and Spirit in 2022. Since starting out, the duo has solidified their position as one of Canada’s leading musical acts, earning eight Top 10 singles, five Top 5 singles and two #1 singles. They have accumulated an impressive 25 million streams to date and their song “Meet Me At The Rio” was the #25 Most Played track at Alternative Rock Radio for 2023.

The duo’s exceptional talent has been previously recognized with a prestigious JUNO Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year (2016), marking a significant milestone in their musical journey. Additionally, they won Group Of The Year at the 2022 CMW Jim Beam Indie Awards and have been nominated for several other awards.

When asked about the message behind “Goon,” Danielle explained, “I think it’s more just learning to have good boundaries in your life. Maybe that’s a thing. I don’t know if I’m trying to teach anybody anything or I’m just trying to express an experience that I’ve had. But I think it’s very relatable that we all kind of have these toxic things, not even just a person. I even said to somebody, ‘Sometimes I can be the goon.’ We’re not exempt from being that kind of person also in seasons of our lives.”

“Goon” also marks a new chapter for Dear Rouge, as Danielle shared, “This record is way more leaning into… I always say Dear Rouge sort of straddles the alternative pop thing. We can’t get away from catchy pop kind of centric things, but we also can’t get away from wanting to rock out hard. We’re always kind of straddling that a little bit as a sound. And I think with this record, we’ve leaned more into the gritty alternative side of Dear Rouge. It’s a lot more fun, sort of punk, edgy, gritty kind of vibes throughout this record, but you still get Dear Rouge. It sounds like us, which is, again, leaning into hooks and singable moments and very live minded.”

The creative process behind “Goon” wasn’t without its challenges, as Danielle explained, “This song kind of had a very peppy… How do I explain it? It was just a little too fun sounding when I brought the demo to Drew and when I brought the demo to Gus van Go. The turn of trying to get the sound more into kind of a grittier, less fun, poppy, kind of upbeat song into more of a grimy sound was tough, actually. We had to kind of dig in the corners for the right tones and the way to kind of have my vocals come through in a grimier way. And I think that was challenging. But in the end, we got there, so I’m really happy with the result.”

As partners both in life and in music, Danielle and Drew have found a balance in their personal and professional relationships. “Drew and I, we’ve just spent so much time working on our relationship. Before we got married, we did a ton of prep to almost learn from each other. Being in a band, it’s very similar. You have to use those same tactics to communicate properly. I almost feel like we’ve kind of got a bonus in that we’ve learned so much about our communication style and can use it to write music together,” Danielle shared.

The duo’s music explores human connection, relationships, and emotions, drawing inspiration from their own personal experiences and the world around them. “I think it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable, and we’re continuing to build that courage, that bravery, to use our own stories to highlight the human experience. All my favorite artists are very open with their life and with their sound,” Danielle explained.

As a woman in the music industry, Danielle faced challenges early in her career due to a lack of mentorship. “I feel like the one area for sure that I struggled with is being a woman and knowing boundaries in the music industry and who to believe. I had mentorship in writing and things like that, but I didn’t have a lot of guidance in the wisdom of where to spend money and things like that. I just wanted to do music, period. And I just threw myself into it no matter what,” she shared. Her advice to emerging artists, especially young women, is to “trust your gut and get guidance from other women who have done it. There are more women now, for sure, but I do feel like finding someone to help guide you is really important.”

With the release of “Goon,” Dear Rouge is excited to share their new music with fans and continue their musical journey. “We would love to play Coachella. We would love to play SNL. We’d love to win a Grammy. Why not just shoot for the stars? You never know what can happen. I think we’ve always just wanted to achieve bigger, and it’d be so sweet to play some of the festivals we’ve already played again. We love that experience, but just shooting for the stars and always hoping,” Danielle shared.

As they navigate the challenges of balancing motherhood and their music career, Danielle and Drew remain committed to their craft and their fans. “We’re just getting into it, so I guess I’ll see how it goes. But I feel like so many women have done it now, and I have some great examples that it can completely work. And one thing that I’ve loved about this scenario is that Drew and I are doing it together, so I don’t feel like I’m stuck at home. We share the duties, and it’s been awesome that way because I’ll go out and do an artist day and writing day, and Drew will stay back and vice versa,” Danielle explained.

With “Goon” released earlier this year, Dear Rouge is ready to take on the world once again, one electrifying track at a time. As Danielle put it, “Playing in front of thousands of people is such a rush.

And with their talent, passion, and dedication, there’s no doubt that Dear Rouge will continue to captivate audiences for years to come.

As seen in the February 2024 issue:

519 Issue 67 March 2024 cover 2.0

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