Back in July 2013, I came across four demo tracks from a band called Rouge – four girls playing and singing the blues with rock and soul overtones. It didn’t take much thinking to realise that I was listening to something special. I immediately got in touch with the band and asked for a meeting. We agreed on a production partnership and commenced work on the first EP headed by the single Wilderness.
Rouge aren’t a terribly conventional line up because they feature two leads vocalists with both playing guitars, but whatever force in the universe had made this band happen wanted these voices to meet because they blend seamlessly. Becky Wixon and Simone Picknett share the vocal and guitar duties perfectly and by far in the most respectful manor I have ever witnessed. They are also the chief songwriters in the band.
Nicole Burnard provides powerful drums, and it is still a mystery to me where the strength to make so much noise comes from this little girl, but boy does she deliver, and spectacularly in time too! Moreover, Nicole is a multi-instrumentalist playing bass and guitar in addition to mastering drums and percussion.
Ruby Rose Lee picked up the bass just for this band! With background in guitar, the prospect of joining Rouge was enough to motivate her into some serious crash courses and bass practice. By Rouge’s first gig, Ruby was playing flawlessly like a natural.
I’ve adopted a methodology some time ago that seems to work well for me when doing production work. It involves attending rehearsal and getting to know the band, the environment they feel comfortable playing in, understand the dynamics in the band and of course learn the songs. This idea is to be involved in the process as much as possible so that by the time we get to the studio, everything flows naturally and I don’t look like an outsider to the band. It also gives me an opportunity to have input into the songs early on in the process and we are not wasting any precious time in the studio making changes. If this process starts early enough, there is even an opportunity to test the changes live during gigs and see the audience’s reaction.