WHITEHORSE with Daniel Romano at Massey Hall (178 Victoria), Saturday (March 2), 8 pm. $19.50-$39.50. RTH. See listings.
Ever since Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland joined forces as the minimalist roots duo Whitehorse, I've wondered if my 2010 review of Doucet performing at Mod Club in which I suggested they join forces as a single act was the impetus behind the project.
"It absolutely was one of the things that got us thinking about this," admits McClelland from a tour stop in Minneapolis, vindicating my suspicions.
Some couples fear mixing business with pleasure might erode their relationship, but Doucet and McClelland tour pretty constantly. They even gave up their home eight months ago in favour of staying on the road, where there's no respite from their lives together as Whitehorse. In their case, though, no huge adjustments were involved in making their musical partnership official.
"It's just the nature of who we are and what we do," explains Doucet. "We were working together long before we were romantically involved, so this is the norm for us, for better or worse."
Nevertheless, the pair are growing weary of having their marriage such a central part of the conversation about their music. Their irritation is valid, since the sounds they make as Whitehorse often take roots music in new and unpredictable directions, far beyond what either previously did as solo artists.
"Our being married isn't the most interesting part of this band," Doucet says. "What is much more interesting is the way we build our live show."
With the help of some pointers from Owen Pallett, Whitehorse have developed a unique approach using looping pedals and a stage full of instruments to craft lush arrangements from scratch. It's fascinating to watch, and it results in some unlikely connections between techno techniques and folk music sounds.
"It's not a question of whether we have a band or not - we are a band," asserts Doucet. "I don't want people to think we're playing to backing tracks or sequencers. Every note you hear is played onstage, and we don't have any loops saved in the machines so we can cheat. I sometimes describe us at the world's smallest supergroup."