On Oct. 31, 2019, it will be the 20-year anniversary of when Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac first met.
The two spent 10 years as a couple, but that milestone isn’t the headline of their relationship together. Instead, it’s what they have done in twice that time.
The two make up the Juno and ECMA nominated duo Madison Violet, which is set to stop by Kamloops for a house concert on Wednesday.
Brenley does the bulk of the vocal and rhythm guitar work, while Lisa covers harmonies and provides the more plucky guitars and violin. Both are multi-instrumentalists and their roles in the duo aren’t set in stone. MacEachern said the two like to challenge each other.
The two met and fell in love in Toronto in 1999. As their romance formed, so did their music careers. Initially, the two were the only members of a band that weren’t doing music full time, so they split off to do their own thing.
“We got an agent, a manager — things were going really great,” MacEachern told KTW.
In their time as a couple, the two released four full-length albums and three singles. They also earned ECMA nominations for best new artist, pop recording of the year, group recording of the year and folk recording of the year. Add to that, a Canadian Folk Music Award for best vocal group and a Juno nomination for roots/traditional album of the year.
But all of their professional success took a toll on their personal relationship.
“After about 10 years of touring together and doing everything together — sharing the same cell phone, the same apartment — it just got to be too much,” MacEachern said.
Their romance sputtered out and the couple was left with a hard choice on whether or not to continue together or split both professionally and romantically.
“We knew that we still really enjoyed touring the world together and writing music together, so we decided that we wouldn’t have to give up our professional life together and we’re still a band 10 years later,” MacEachern said.
That decision led to even more output. Since 2011, the two have released five albums and two more singles, including their recent and only music video.
Tell Me was released on March 27 and tells the story duo’s early days. It was shot by director Jillian Martin, who sought out the opportunity to work with the band. MacEachern called it the group’s “first real music video in 20 years.” It’s also the first single off their latest album, Everything’s Shifting, released March 8.
Nowadays, the two see each other as family, and while both still do things that get under each others’ skin, MacEachern said “there’s a foundation there that is so strong.”
The strength of that foundation has been necessary. Each of the two songwriters have had to endure a lot of loss throughout their lives — including the murder of MacEachern’s brother, the death of MacIsaac’s brother in a car accident, MacEachern’s niece in a car accident, among other events.
“We have a lot to write about, and sometimes that doesn’t make for a great pop record,” MacEachern said. “It’s not what somebody wants to listen to at seven o’clock in the morning on their drive to work — which is probably why we’ve never had a big radio hit.
“But people come to our shows because they want to hear these stories. They want to feel connected and not so alone in their own pain. And we definitely write enough stuff to give them that sort of solidarity.”
The duo will play an intimate house concert at McArthur Castle, which has a location only disclosed to ticketholders, on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and available online at sidedooraccess.com.