Madeline Doornaert & Dane Roberts Talk Soul City, Bluesfest Windsor & More

Talented young local singer songwriters Madeline Doornaert and Dane Roberts are making a name for themselves. They’re partners in love, each pursuing solo music careers, offering one another support, collaboration, and the joy of performing together. In fact, the pair, members of the Soul City Music Co-Op will be performing, to their surprise and shock, on the Bluesfest Windsor YUNITY Front Porch Party Concert Series Stream this Saturday (July 18). The pair are excited to share some of their new and unreleased music with fans during their sets.

Madeline and Dane took the time for an exclusive interview with Eyes On Windsor. They talked about how they first met, bands they were a part of in their early days, their current involvement with the Soul City Music Co-Op, what some of their newer songs are about, upcoming album releases and more.

How did you meet?

Madeline: We’ve known each other since we were in high school, we went to two different high schools, and we met at an open mic at Milk, which isn’t open anymore, it sadly closed, we miss it. That was about six years ago.

How does your relationship affect your music careers?

Dane: It’s a good thing and a bad thing to be working with someone you care so much about. We bounce off of each other. We both really respect each other’s musicianship. It’s also really nice always having someone there to listen to your new song, new lyrics, or new idea.

Madeline: Ya it’s really helpful.

Do you write music together?

Madeline: Dane writes all of his music by himself and he produces it all by himself. Once in a while he’ll pull me in to sing a harmony on top of something but he is pretty independent. I do my lyrics, melodies, progressions, and Dane comes in for the production part of that. He arranges a lot of the instrumental parts of my songs.

Dane you caught my attention back in 2014 when you were in the band SieraSlave. How old were you?

Dane: I think I was 15 or 16.

Dane Roberts

Dane Roberts singing in downtown Windsor at the former Venue Music Hall during the SieraSlave debut CD release concert on December 14, 2014. Photo by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.

SieraSlave was very popular and music fans of all ages loved you. What was your experience like in that band?

Dane: It was great, I was fortunate to have that experience at such a young age and be exposed to the music industry. It’s not like we did anything crazy but we went to Pittsburgh, Toronto, and played some pretty big shows and festivals. At 15 or 16 years old having that good feeling of other people enjoying your music, listening to it, and singing the lyrics back to you was kind of life changing. I’m grateful for it. Unfortunately, it didn’t last too long but all of the members, we still all talk, it was a great experience for all of us and we look back on it and how much we really enjoyed it.

“No Plan B” was the only album the band released. You wrote and co-wrote the songs. Which ones did you write on your own?

Dane: I wrote a few of the songs before we formed SieraSlave. They were Breakout, Weekend, and Crooks and Crowns.

Eventually, the band dismantled, what happened there?

Dane: A cool thing about the band was we were so young, did a lot of practicing, we were so tight, and we did a lot of shows. But it also had its disadvantages. It started to get in the way of our development, our school marks started dropping. It was really interesting because the more opportunities we got musically, we felt the less we got academically. We had friends who were getting into University and we were asked to take a year off of school and push back graduating. A few of us wanted to finish school first and Nathan (McNevin) was very much into the band, I really admire his drive. But that pretty much sums it up.

Dane Roberts and Madeline Doornaert performing in downtown Windsor.

Dane Roberts and Madeline Doornaert performing in downtown Windsor at the former Venue Music Hall during the SieraSlave debut CD release concert on December 14, 2014. Photo by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.

The first time I saw Madeline perform was actually at the SieraSlave No Plan B Album Release Show at Venue Music Hall in downtown Windsor. She was called up on stage to perform a duet with you Dane.

Dane: Yes, it was a song I wrote years ago called “Better Off”. It was released on Youtube like ten years ago but it’s not online anymore.

How long have you been songwriting and performing Madeline?

Madeline: I’ve been performing solo lately and released my debut single in November. That’s when I released “Sunscreen”. That was my start as a solo artist but before that I was part of a few different groups. One of them being Georgia Rose with my friend Addie Burrows, we played around and that started in grade 7, it was cool because we had a few gigs and it really got us into the performing world. Our first gig was at The Blind Dog. Since then I’ve been doing things here and there and I go to the University of Windsor right now for music. I’ve had some opportunities through that too so that’s been great.

Right now you’re part of The Family Soul. What’s it like to be part of the band?

Madeline: I’m super lucky to be a part of that group! It’s kind of mind blowing to be surrounded by so many experienced musicians. I learn so much from everyone at every rehearsal and every show, I’m so grateful to be a part of that.

One of the most legendary members of the band is Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe of Big Sugar Fame. What have you learned from him?

Madeline: He’s incredible! He’s so down to earth and I have learned so much from him. I love hearing his touring stories and he will introduce me to different musicians. It’s really cool and helps open my mind to a bunch of new things.

Aubrey Therrien and Madeline Doornaert

The Family Soul band members, from left, backup singers Aubrey Therrien and Madeline Doornaert opening for Crissi Cochrane’s Heirloom album release show at Meteor in downtown Windsor on Saturday, February 29, 2020. He also performed with Cochrane during her set. Photo by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.

How would you describe your sound or style of music?

Madeline: I’d say adult contemporary pop.

Your voice kind of reminds me of Crissi Cochrane when you sing. What do you think?

Madeline: She’s kind of my role model. No one has said that before. It’s been great with the whole co-op because I’ve been able to learn a lot from her and Mike (Soul Brother Mike). She influences me in so many ways and it’s really great to work with her all the time.

So right now you are both part of the Soul City Music Co-Op. How is that helping you as musicians?

Dane: It’s really interesting. Mike is a super smart guy, both him and Crissi are very experienced. They’ve had to navigate through the music industry themselves. Mike was in a few different bands like Michou and The Walkervilles. It was harder for Crissi because she had to navigate as a solo artist. They learned so many things along the way and hit some bumps along the way. Now that they’re in a position where they’ve gained success in their career, they can take a step back, and being altruistic have found a few artists like us who they’re giving advice too. Actually doing a lot more than that, they’re really helping us every step of the way, even with things that you normally don’t think about. Crissi is really helping us with packaging our look, our website, how we distribute our music, and Mike is more on the production side of it. Basically, they’re giving us advice that we probably could only have learned if we had pursued music for ten years. So they’re giving us a step ahead. Not only that but they’ve connected us with musicians, some who we have been listening to for years and respect so much. It’s the coolest thing ever to bounce songs off of them. We have Soul Brother Mike, Crissi Cochrane, The Family Soul, Bishop Boys, Brendan Scott Friel and Madeline and myself.

We’d like to thank Soul City Music Co-Op because they do so much for us! They help us out with everything.

The Family Soul

The Family Soul opening for Crissi Cochrane’s Heirloom album release show at Meteor in downtown Windsor on Saturday, February 29, 2020. Photo by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.

Madeline, Can you tell me about your latest single release, Muddy Water?

Madeline: I actually wrote the chorus for that song with my friend Addie Burrows in high school when we were doing the Georgia Rose stuff. It’s kind of fitting for what the song is about. It’s about long and enduring friendships and not needing to be close to the people you love in order to know that you love them and they love you. She moved away and is in med school doing her own thing but it’s kind of about being close to the people you love without being physically close to them. I just released the song on May 23 of this year.

People have been responding great to the song. I was kind of hoping to have a music video with it but because of the pandemic I couldn’t organize that. It’s kind of weird not to have a visual aspect but I think it was pretty good with just the single release.

Do you plan on eventually doing a video for it?

Madeline: Yes eventually. I plan to release an album first and then do the music video after. The album is going to be released in September. I’m very lucky because I received funding for it through the City of Windsor’s Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund. I just have to put a few finishing touches on the songs and then it’s pretty much ready to go.

Dane, your single “Dancing In The Living Room” was just released. Tell me about it.

Dane: I actually just wrote it in April, about a month after the whole pandemic thing really started to unfold. It’s trying to promote resilience through what was happening with so much up in the air. A lot of people were nervous, angry or confused about it. I myself went through all of those emotions and I was struggling with what I can do. I thought the best thing I could do is try to be resilient and optimistic but also promote staying safe and staying healthy. It all kind of flooded into the idea of dancing in the living room, making the best of what you can, and also being a responsible citizen.

The song is kind of funky pop. Would you say your sound is changing?

Dane: Dancing In The Living Room, I wouldn’t say is outside of my comfort zone but it’s not a song that I typically write or produce.

You’re getting some pretty impressive praise. Crissi Cochrane posted on social media that she loves the song, it blows her away, she is obsessed with it, and it’s the song of the summer for her. Jeff Burrows posted, “Happiness is hearing your song blaring Dane Robert’s new single – BUY IT – it’s the summer song we all need.” That’s really cool, how does it make you feel?

Dane: I’m super flattered, it’s honestly really hard for me to wrap my head around that because I’ve looked up to both of them for basically my whole life. So it’s really weird hearing them say those kinds of things. It’s great though.

Dane Roberts (left), Madeline Doornaert, Jeff Burrows, and Justin James Jewell

Dane Roberts (left), Madeline Doornaert, Jeff Burrows, and Justin James Jewell at Rockstar Music Hall in Windsor, Ontario, during the Rockin’ For Kaleb’s Kourage concert fundraiser for the Houle Family in honour of 13 year old Kaleb Houle who lost his 3rd battle with cancer over the past four years. The concert took place on Nov 16, 2018. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Bluesfest Windsor, like just about every festival, has been cancelled. But the organizers have been bringing music fans an impressive lineup of world class big acts streamed online each week as part of their YUNITY Front Porch Party Concerts, including some of the most well known and successful names locally. It looks like now they’re including some younger, perhaps less known local talent, which is really cool. What do you think about being asked to be their featured performers for this Saturday (July 18)?

Dane: We were so excited that they picked us! We were surprised!

Madeline: We were like… What? They picked us? Seeing our names compared to the others they’ve had so far was mind blowing!

Will you perform any of your new music on the Bluesfest Windsor stream?

Madeline: I’ll be performing Muddy Water and one of my unreleased ones called, “Sing Up Sing Softly”. It’s a ballad that’s going to be on my upcoming album. I performed it on my last livestream but it’s a funny story. The power went out during that song so we kind of ended it, we didn’t do the full song. All the lights went out and we thought the video stopped but it kept rolling. So I guess it’s going to be the first time the public will hear the full song.

Dane: I just finished mixing and mastering an album that is supposed to come out in September as well. I’m playing 4 or 5 unreleased songs from that album. The album is called “Chasing Water”.

Can you tell me about one of your favourite songs out of that list?

Dane: I have one song that I’m probably going to release as a single called “Boulders”. It will be in the acoustic set of the Bluesfest Windsor stream. It’s about how challenges ideally increase our resilience. It’s one of my favourite songs that I’ve written. It takes the approach where the narrative is kind of conflicted, things don’t look so great, and as the song goes on it gets more powerful with each chorus, saying we’ll get there, it’ll get better, and then the last part of the song says, “we can be stronger then, we can move boulders by the time this ends.” It promotes resilience in the face of adversity.

Madeline Doornaert and Dane Roberts

Madeline Doornaert and Dane Roberts performing at The Thirsty Butler in Windsor, Ontario, on September 13, 2019. Photo by Dan Boshart / Eyes On Windsor.

Dane and Madeline’s Bluesfest Windsor YUNITY Concert Stream premiers on Saturday, July 18 at 8pm and can be viewed on the Bluesfest Windsor YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/BluesFestWindsor

For more about the Soul City Music Co-Op visit https://www.soulcitymusiccoop.com/

For more about Dane Roberts visit https://www.facebook.com/danerobertsmusic/

For more about Madeline Doornaert visit https://www.facebook.com/madelinedoornaert/

Photos in this article by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor and Dan Boshart / 27th Floor Photography