Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet are a prolific partnership

The husband and wife songwriting team of Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet are used to making beautiful music together.

The husband and wife songwriting team of Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet are used to making beautiful music together.

Lately, they are churning out new tunes at a breakneck pace as Whitehorse — a folk/pop duo that’s released two critically acclaimed full-length albums in as many years, including the latest, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss.

McClelland admitted it’s easier coming up with new material as part of a songwriting partnership with Doucet than when each were trying to produce songs as individual artists.

The benefit comes from being able to bounce ideas back and forth, added the singer, who performs in Whitehorse on Sunday, Feb. 3, at The Hideout, south of Red Deer.

“We work well together — but not in the way people expect, with us both sitting down with two guitars and a bottle of wine.”

Each songwriter usually starts the process in isolation. McClelland said it’s only when a snippet of verse or melody has been established that she or Doucet will run it by each other.

“We’re good at editing each other’s work, tearing it to bits and throwing it back.”

If that sounds a tad cold-blooded, McClelland later qualifies this by adding that she and Doucet trust each other enough to be brutally frank. “There are tense moments, but generally we’re pretty good and we have the freedom to say things honestly.”

She said both of them also have enough confidence to turn down a suggestion or change if they truly feel it won’t work.

This musical to-ing and fro-ing worked well on the atmospheric Devil’s Got a Gun from the latest Whitehorse album. McClelland said Doucet had the song’s bare melody line going through his head for a long time and would sometimes hum along to it on his guitar.

Once all the other tracks had been laid down for their last album, “We said, ‘OK, let’s turn that tune into something,’ ” she recalled.

They were then living in New York City in the midst of the U.S. recession, and a few blocks from where Occupy Movement protests were going on. They were also reading newspaper articles about the Arab Spring pro-democracy marches in the Middle East.

“The mood of the song was sparked by all this unrest or shift we were feeling,” said the singer. Devil’s Got a Gun — with verses written by Doucet and chorus by McClelland — reflects that “polarization, or sense of good and evil,” making it one of the most popular tunes on the CD.

McClelland originated the quieter Out Like a Lion and Cold July. The latter came from the emotional space she was in. “I’m a slave to the seasons,” she said, preferring the warm summer to the bitter winter, “when my mood is low, my immune system is crappy and I’m low energy.”

Going through a spring that constantly fell back into winter “is the hardest,” said the singer, who drew on her mood of discontent for the beautiful and introspective song.

These days, she and Doucet are officially homeless, renting out their Ontario residence and giving up their New York flat, where they spent a total of seven weeks between tours last year.

They now usually sleep at hotels or in their touring van. But “it’s been really fun for us to live this way. We were finding it more stressful to go home for three or four days and not even have time to unpack,” said McClelland.

While they are about to embark on another frozen tour of Canada in January, there will be warm reprieves. McClelland said they are using the money saved from rent to jet to places they want to be on their days off, such as Los Angeles, where the weather is “25 degrees and sunny.”

For ticket information about the 8 p.m. show at The Hideout in Gasoline Alley, call 403-348-5319.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Terry Betts, of Kananaskis, looks at the vehicle he was hoping to sell during the Quick Times Red Deer Swap Meet in the Westerner Park parking lot Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Quick Times Red Deer Swap Meet held outdoors

A big automotive swap meet was held outdoors this year in Red… Continue reading

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is set to re-open on July 2. (File Photo)
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum to reopen Monday

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will reopen for visitors… Continue reading

The Red Deer U18AAA Braves hit the field this weekend for their first games of the Norwest League season. (Advocate File photo)
Red Deer’s U18AAA Braves ready to open season this weekend

It’s been more than a year since many Red Deer Minor Baseball… Continue reading

Traffic signal upgrades are planned for May 30 at the intersection of 67th Street and 52nd Avenue. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Traffic light repairs set for 49 Ave. and 51 St. over weekend

Drivers in Red Deer can expect delays at the intersection of 49… Continue reading

Huzaifa (left), Saif (middle) and Zoya (right) were among the 60 or so Red Deerians who participated in a vigil for the victims of a recent terrorist attack that killed four people in London Ont. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer vigil honours victims of London, Ont. terrorist attack

About 60 people gathered at the corner of 49 Ave. and 50… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Multivitamins are shown on the packaging line at the Pfizer plant in Montreal, Thursday, July 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canadian drug companies want new pricing regs delayed again until after pandemic

OTTAWA — Almost three dozen Canadian pharmaceutical companies made a direct appeal… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — The massive $70 million dollar Lotto Max jackpot remained unclaimed… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Embrace the omni-present wonderfulness of corn

OK, this week I’m going to get a little corny. So what,… Continue reading

Most Read