The Royal Oui: Friday, Dec. 20 at Squamish's Howe Sound Inn and Brewery; and Saturday, Dec. 21 at Vancouver's Prophouse Café. theroyaloui.com
After years of collaborating on each other's respective solo projects, married musicians Adrienne Pierce and Ari Shine decided to officially join forces as a duo this fall.
All they needed was a name.
In an interesting twist of fate, around the same time the couple met back in 2005, Pierce had registered the domain name The Royal Oui.
"I thought if I ever had a side project I'm going to call it The Royal Oui, but I thought maybe it would be more like each song would be with someone different and that I would have collaborators on each song," she says. "But in the end when we had this project, we threw some names around and one day we were just driving from show to show and we just looked at each other and said, 'This should be The Royal Oui.'" Pierce and Shine made their band's live premiere at Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret in October and have been on the road ever since.
They're set to take the stage locally once again for three shows next week, starting with Thursday, Dec. 19 at Vancouver's Electric Owl. The concert, A Nimbus Family Christmas, is also featuring Dominique Fricot and Field Study Music. Doors are at 7 p.m. and proceeds will support the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. The next day, the couple will head up to Squamish for a show Friday, Dec. 20 at the Howe Sound Inn and Brewery.
Finally, the duo has organized The Royal Oui and Friends Holiday Benefit Concert, likewise in support of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Saturday, Dec. 21 at the Prophouse Café at 1636 Venables St. in Vancouver. Other artists lending support to the cause include Rykka, T. Nile, Nat Jay, Hilary Grist and Christa Couture.
In recent years Pierce and Shine have called Los Angeles and New York home, though they've been based in Vancouver since March.
"I know it goes through ebbs and flows, but I think in the last certainly few years with Hannah Georgas and Dan Mangan and Said The Whale, I feel like there's a national eye on Vancouver. I feel like some of the bands in town are amongst the best, which is really encouraging. There's all kinds of good bands. It's inspiring for us really. It's a nice community for us to be a part of," says Shine, reached Tuesday en route from California (where The Royal Oui had just played shows in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco) to Oregon, where they were scheduled to play in Eugene that evening.
It's "wonderful" to be able to make music with his wife, says Shine. "It's one of the easiest things that we do," he says. "We create together all the time.. .. It's a very natural part of our relationship. Our relationship grew out of our songwriting and our creative direction."
Pierce, a West Vancouver native who grew up in Horseshoe Bay and graduated from Hillside secondary, met Shine, a California native from the Palo Alto area, during a trip to Los Angeles to do some recording for an album.
"I went into the studio to record drums and Ari was there," she says.
Shine's friend was drumming on Pierce's record and he just happened to be at the studio that day, doing some writing with some other artists.
"That's how we met," says Pierce. "We just started chatting and he knew all about Canada and Canadian bands and he loves Canadian music and everything Canadian."
They kept in touch and two years later wrote a song together, then went on tour together, and wed in 2008.
From their first song, "Nightswimming," which went on to appear on Pierce's 2010 release Oh Deer, the couple has continued to collaborate. Shine co-produced and played many of the instruments on Oh Deer, he and Pierce joined forces for her latest solo effort, My Heavens, released in February, and Pierce contributed to Shine's most recent solo album, 2012's Songs Of Solomon.
Based on their professional relationship, they often joked they were "an undercover duo"
and would hear time and time again from friends who suggested they were essentially already a band.
When they realized their songwriting had shifted - "We started writing a lot of songs that weren't really an Adrienne song and not really an Ari song," says Pierce - their new direction became clear.
"It just took on a life of its own and we realized it was something different and we decided to just go with it and see what happened. We've been loving doing it. It's just really fun to do this together and not have it be either of our projects, but something that we're both really invested in," says Pierce.
They released their debut two-song EP, Forecast, at their show at the Biltmore earlier this fall. They plan to release an eponymous The Royal Oui LP in February 2014, featuring 11 tracks, coproduced by them, and released on File Under: Music.
"I feel like Ari's stuff tends to be a little more Americana, a little more rock sometimes," says Pierce. "And mine is a little, like, arty, weirder pop, alternative." Since their band's launch their sound has been described as "psychedelic folk" or "ambient folk," she says.
Despite their hefty respective back catalogues, they're focusing on their new Royal Oui songs only on their current tour and have been performing as just the two of them.
"That's something that really works for us," says Pierce. "We like to say 'we're nimble.' We can just throw our guitars in the car - sometimes we bring our dog - and just go."
That said, they make a concerted effort to fill out the sound. Shine references their "sonic adventurousness," which Pierce explains sees them harmonize and sing together on every song with neither ever taking the lead. They both play acoustic guitars, and make use of keyboards, percussive loops and other effects.
In addition, Shine says they offer a certain degree of "eye candy" at their shows, projecting visuals onto themselves and behind them.
"We're just trying to create this whole little world on stage," says Pierce.