When Brookln and Ruth Dekker were married six years ago, they had planned to, one day, make their home in England, where Ruth is originally from. At the time, they hadn’t imagined that a main reason for their move would be an increasingly successful indie-folk band, of which they were the only two members.
The two formed Rue Royale in 2006, simply writing songs together in the living room of their Chicago apartment. They recorded an EP, “The Search for Where to Go,” but didn’t do anything with it. “We were sitting on the EP for nine months before we even played our first show,” Brookln says. “We just kind of took it slow.” In the time that followed those nine months, though, they began playing regularly in Chicago and building a reputation for themselves.
Fast forward to 2008. The duo recorded and released, again without the help of a record label, a self-titled full-length record. They also took their husband-and-wife show on the road, planning and executing a massive European tour. The Dekkers found that Europeans enjoyed the music that they were creating, and on the success of that tour, the decision was made to take up permanent residence across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Europeans seem to be a little bit more willing to try out new bands,” says Brookln. “They are so open to go check out a new band, based on a thirty second sample online or something, and I don’t think that happens as much in the States.”
Rue Royale has also not yet done any extensive touring in the States. Almost all of their shows have been in the Chicago area with the exception of a few in St. Louis and New York. “We’ve become a little more popular over there than we have here just because of the sheer amount of touring that we’ve done over there,” Brookln says.
In September of 2008, the two made the move, and while they see the move to Europe to be a permanent one, they do hope to return to the U.S., twice a year for tours similar to the ones that they have been doing in Europe
They are back in Chicago for the first time after a whirlwind year of more than 180 shows, tying up some loose ends with the immigration, but in the mean time, they are playing two shows, one at The Beat Kitchen, on January 23 and one at The Hideout at the end of their stay on March 20.
Brookln and Ruth are also using the time to spend time with friends and family before making the move permanent. “When we decided to move, everything happened so fast that we didn’t really get to spend time with friends and family the way we would have liked to, so that’s kind of how we’re spending a lot of the time,” Brookln says.
They are also still trying to figure out how to be a band and a married couple at the same time. “I think it was something that we hadn’t talked about until we had finished those 180 shows. It’s something that we talk about now,” Brookln says. “We haven’t planned to be a band certain hours of the day, and we haven’t planned to be a couple certain hours of the day. Not having labels, not having managers, not having drivers, we do everything ourselves. So we’re together touring, by ourselves. It’s hard to separate business from pleasure when we’re in the middle of a tour. So, when we come home, we’ll have a week of just sleeping and trying to come back to reality, get rid of that tour fog. We’re trying to meet in the middle somehow and craft some sort of balance.”
But they won’t be putting the band completely on the back burner for their time in Chicago. “We’re spending a lot of time writing and trying to button up the finishes on some of the songs that we started and couldn’t quite finish up on the road,” Brookln says. Writing songs while on the road is a different approach than the couple had ever taken. Previously, the setting had been quiet living rooms with an acoustic guitar and soft voices, but since Brookln and Ruth spent half of last year playing shows all over Europe in houses, bars, auditoriums and everywhere in between, they have been writing back stage or during soundchecks before performances.
“I feel like the new songs are definitely still Rue Royale songs, but they definitely have a different feel to them. I think there’s maybe a little bit more energy, and that’s because now we’re writing from the live experience,” Brookln says. “I think the content is a little more like trying a lot of new things and experiencing a lot of new things. So, yeah, I think it’s going to be different.” (Todd Miller)
January 23 at The Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, (773)281-4444, at 10:30pm. $8.
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