There was a time when the Roger twins of Winnipeg led entirely separate lives.
Madeleine Roger was studying theatre and going on regular canoeing trips, while her brother, Lucas Roger, was learning guitar-making and restoring a hot rod.
Then, about two years ago, their lives converged in music.
The offspring of Winnipeg music producer Lloyd Peterson (Royal Canoe, The Wailin’ Jennys) became the folk duo Roger Roger — and started learning about what real togetherness means.
The 24-year-olds, who just released their debut album, Fairweather, now sing together, live together and even share the same car and bank account.
But “we’re still friends and we get along,” said Madeleine, since no one takes offence when some alone time is demanded.
“I told (Lucas) the other day, ‘We just need to not see each other for a couple days,’ and he said, ‘Cool. I’m kind of sick of you too,’” she recalled with a laugh.
The two will soon venture out on their first Western Canadian tour that will bring them to Fratters Speakeasy on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Madeleine and Lucas are excited to bring new songs from Fairweather to Saskatchewan and Alberta. They’ve already toured in Ontario with music that’s getting some airplay on the CBC.
So far, the album’s getting good word-of-mouth from critics and fans, said Madeleine, who with her brother, learned the recording process by watching their father produce music for other musicians while growing up. Madeleine particularly remembers sessions with alt-country group O My Darling and singer J.P Hoe.
“Both first albums were recorded in my house… I was fascinated and had to watch, even though I had exams to study for…”
When the duo began recording their own tunes, the singers took a quietly complementary approach to harmonizing on each other’s material. “It’s about knowing when to take a backseat and not get in the way of the story,” said Madeleine, whose songs often combine reality and imagination.
For instance, the title character in The Mad Trapper really existed, working a trap line around Florence Lake, where Madeline and Lucas spent many summers. “I think he died before I was born,” she recalled. But kids staying at the lakeside cabins would scare each other with stories about his purported ghost.
Tales of the trapper were fuelled by a mystery: He’d been spotted with one of his hands missing while still alive. “Of course, it turned into 18 versions of what happened,” said Madeleine, who came up with a rather macabre explanation in the song.
Her tune Another Girl’s Shoes and Lucas’s introspective Fairweather are both rooted in personal experience. But the song that’s getting some radio play, 13 Crows, draws lyrics about an old radio from another Florence Lake story.
Madeleine recalled writing music for a month at the family’s unserviced cabin last winter. While she had to stoke a fire in the wood stove to keep warm and melt ice for her drinking water, there was still enough time to get bored and lonely.
“I found this little plastic, wind-up radio in a drawer and I was so excited! … I was really hoping that I could tune it to an AM radio station, just so I could hear another human voice, but it didn’t work! It was horrible, horrible!”
There’s no cover for the duo’s 8:30 p.m. show.