Keith and Renee
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Keith and Renee

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Pop Country




"More Musicians Who Care"

I received an interesting story pitch this week about a duo from Winnipeg called Keith and Renee (that's them in the photo). I had the pleasure of checking out their latest release, Detours, and must say it's a charming little mix of songs worthy of some attention in its own right.

That said, a more appealing element to Keith and Renee is the fact that the pair recently embarked on a partnership with Free the Children, which brought them to Kenya to work with the program, following which they did a school tour discussing their experiences. Not only were they privy to a once-in-a-lifetime humbling experience, but the two also found an interesting way to bring their music to more people. Pretty clever if you ask me.

As we've continually stressed in CM, there are plenty of benefits that come with donating time towards meaningful and deserving causes. Not only are you working for the greater good, but you're making your story more attractive to the music industry and listeners alike. Just make sure you're in it for the right reasons, and the results should be fruitful.

Oh yeah, check out some tunes from Keith and Renee here: - Canadian Musician Magazine, March 2, 2010, Andrew King

"Star Phoenix"

If the crowd is bigger this time around, it won't be a coincidence.

In fact, Keith MacPherson of the duo Keith and Renee has stopped believing in coincidences.

The Winnipeg musician has spent 10 years trying to make it in the music business. He even went through Canadian Idol, placing in the top 22 in the Eva Avila year. But he's been taking a more philosophical view of things lately, not trying so hard. Once you start to allow things to happen, he's discovered with some elation, they do.

Three albums into their career, MacPherson and Renee Lamoureux now have a couple of breakthoughs in the offing -- a glowing write-up in New York magazine Boulevard, a place on Sirius Satellite Radio and interest from AT&T to license their song Good Year.

"It's been pretty exciting this week," said MacPherson from New York where they were taking care of business and attending a Hawaiian Tropic party with cast members of Law and Order.

He and Renee have been circumnavigating North America the last little while thanks to their two-month passes from Air Canada. Starting with a sold-out showcase at JunoFest in Calgary, they travelled to Vancouver twice, Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and Nashville in 10 days.

More than once, a seeming coincidence has presented itself. Lamoureux found herself sitting next to Q host Jian Ghomeshi on one flight. On another, MacPherson was reading Deepak Chopra's 2003 book The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence.

"I'm literally reading this book on the plane and I'm sitting right next to one of the head guys at CBC."

Then there was the chance meeting with Yoko Ono, who stepped out of an elevator in New York. The duo gave her a copy of their new album Revolution.

Making contacts may eventually lead to one of their biggest goals -- performing Good Year at Times Square on New Year's Eve. The chorus goes "this is gonna be a good year."

"That song literally wrote itself. I don't even clearly remember sitting down to write it," says MacPherson.

Revolution happens to be packed with potential hits in the pop-rock vein.

"It's pretty accessible. We really want to reach the new generation because I think our music has a real message in it."

The problem -- if it is a problem -- is that once parents hear it, they like it too.

Although their last show here in October was sparsely attended, Keith and Renee want to build a fan base.

"It's a market we need to tap into because we're neighbours practically."

An itinerary that takes them around the corner also takes them around the world. The pair plans to travel to Kenya in the summer to work for the charity Free the Children. They're friends with the co-founder. They expect to return with a new batch of songs and may tour high schools to perform and spread the message. They're 'allowing,' as MacPherson says.

"When you do that, anything is possible."

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008
- Star Phoenix

"South of Mainstreet"

This dynamic due play a brand of infectious power pop with a side order of folk charm. Swapping vocals regularly throughout the disc, the styles of Keith MacPherson and Renée Lamoureux differ significantly. MacPherson has a boy next door charm, cheery and breezy, sometimes even when the subject matter isn't. Lamoureux has a heavier, more intense delivery, very reminiscent of the lead singer of K's Choice.

MacPherson charms quite effectively with the immediately catchy and infectious "Predictable". Lamoureux plumps up the sass and sarcasm on the equally memorable "Ms. Eliot".

"Boys Don't Cry" - not a cover of the Cure single, sees MacPherson take a departure from his breezy delivery for this sad, delicate, but inherently strong track. It's probably the most stunning track on the disc. Incredibly moving and full of gentle delivery, it also has a core of strength and honesty that builds to a swelling conclusion.

While the breezy pop sound is infectious, there were times I felt that the lyrics were a little too simple, with rhymes just a bit too obvious. This seemed to be the case more often on the tracks on which Lamoureux receives first credit.

This disc is just right for a sunny day at the park, drinking iced tea and watching butterflies. But it also has moments of stark beauty and engaging honesty that give it a greater appeal. I expect to hear a lot more about and from this duo in the future.


"Norman Famous Magazine"

Canadian duo Easily Amused (singer/songwriters Renee Lamaroureux and Keith Macpherson) pretty much do everything right on their new release "Simple Stuff". Stellar production, solid song writing and sharp arrangements make this an enjoyable and eminently repeatable collection. Lamaroureux and Macpherson, who write together (sometimes with producer Creighton Doane) concoct hook-laden, irresistibly melodic songs. Some, like "Coleen" and "No One's Fool" stick in the mind right away, while others ("Ms. Elliot", "Boys Don't Cry") sneak up on you after repeated listenings. This record is clearly aimed alterna-radio and is chock full of potential hits like "Only A Girl" (which sounds not unlike a major hit by another young Canadian) and "Predictable", with its addictive Chorus.


"Calgary Sun"

The way things are going, "Macpherson and his partner Renee Lamoureux might join the ranks of fellow Winnipegers like Chantal Kreviazuk, and Crash Test Dummies- acts that owe a great deal to the Manitoba climate" - Mike Bell

"Being There Magazine"

About two months ago I wandered into the back room of a bar in downtown Toronto and felt like I had just made my own private musical discovery. Never mind that my reason for being there was on behalf of the magazine (no pun indented), or that there were other people in the room. Onstage was a five piece band, hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, that I knew very little about. But I was immediately struck by the infectious pop music that was pouring off the stage, and the vocal power of both singers. Forgetting the job I had for the evening, I allowed myself a few moments of pure enjoyment before I started to snap a few photos and scribble notes.

The band on stage was Easily Amused, headed up by founding members Renee Lamoureux and Keith Macpherson. The crowd that night was small and slightly distanced from the stage, however Macpherson kept a running stage banter that made you feel as welcome as old friends, and their music made you want to sing along, even if you didn’t know the words. Considering I was covering the North-by-Northeast festival as press for Being There and, for the most part, spent the weekend randomly jumping from venue to venue for five or six bands a night, I didn’t always know what I was going into. That night I walked out of Easily Amused’s showcase with a sense of triumph. I felt like I had just discovered one of my favourite artists all over again.

Lamoureux and Macpherson have the looks of the girl and boy next-door, but basically are just down to earth people with a great ear for music. Based around a couple of acoustic guitars, there is a sense of folk music infused in their highly addictive melodies. The lyrics are simple and honest and are delivered by two powerful voices that harmonize beautifully together as well as stand distinctively on their own.

In 1997, Renee Lamoureux and Keith Macpherson were introduced to each other through Lamoureux’s cousin, who, after seeing both perform separately, thought they might collaborate well together. Lamoureux and Macpherson gave it a shot, wrote some songs, and started to play together in coffee shops and on street corners, but soon went their separate ways.

In the end, it would turn out that Lamoureux’s cousin’s hunch was on the money. Joining forces again about a year later, and following up with a debut release entitled Novice in 2001, Lamoureux and Macpherson have since been making their own way through Canada’s independent music scene. A distracting game of soccer during a basement band practice led their bass player to mutter that he was easily amused, giving Lamoureux and Macpherson their moniker.

Novice helped the duo land the “Best Online Indie Artist” award from in 2002. Reflecting back on the award, Lamoureux says “It definitely created a buzz for us in the Canadian music industry. We made a lot of contacts through that contest and it helped us get to the next step.” That next step would be their release of their sophomore album Simple Stuff, which was partially the result of interest from Melanie Doane.

Macpherson recalls, “We had run into Melanie [Doane] in a hotel elevator in Winnipeg when she was on tour with Great Big Sea. Both Renee and I were a little star struck, but we asked her if we could give her some demos to listen to. From there we kept in touch with her and when it came time to do the second record, Mel suggested working with her brother, Creighton.” Creighton Doane came on board as producer and the trio found an instant bond. “I always laugh and say that Creighton is like our Lanois, cause he gets us on so many levels.”

Simple Stuff is an album packed with one great song after another, with Lamoureux and Macpherson taking turns on vocals. The title track and “Only A Girl” are songs of a personal perspective that showcase Lamoureux’s incredible vocal range and power. While Macpherson kicks the album off with “No One’s Fool”, a powerful and addictive pop-rock song, he sneaks up on you later and almost takes you off guard with the quiet “Boys Don’t Cry.” The lyrics are incredibly thought provoking, and the musical accompaniment makes it all the more moving: “Saw the world with eyes / open wide and bright / innocent smile / in a world of greed / everyone in need / I stayed a child.”

Since releasing Simple Stuff last year, the Winnipeg duo has been touring on a pretty hectic schedule in both Canada and the United States in order to get the music out there. An unorganized tour schedule involving zig-zagging across the continent may frustrate some artists, but Macpherson is just eager for the experience. “It is surprising, but after being on the road so much, it seems almost normal for me to be out there driving and playing. If we just decided to be a ‘studio’ band, I would never know if my music was working.” Lamoureux agrees, and adds that she feels lucky. “A lot of bands out there want to be on the road touring and haven't had the chance yet. So that's kind of our payoff. We seem to have a good balance of touring and coming home for a bit to rest; that keeps us calm and sane.”

Working entirely as independent artists, Lamoureux and Macpherson have immersed themselves deeply in the business side of the music industry. Lamoureux says, “A lot of times it feels like ninety percent business and ten percent music. We do all the business ourselves all the time! In a way it's pretty cool because we have learned so much by doing it on our own. I am very satisfied with how our career has progressed. I think we've surprised ourselves with how far we've gone and we only want to keep pursuing it. I love doing what I do because it's such a challenge and it never gets boring.”

The effort has been paying off, as Simple Stuff has granted them with a nomination for a Western Canadian Music Award in the “Outstanding Pop Album” category last year, as well as earned them considerable air play on college radio, with the album breaking its way into the CMJ Top 200. With their band, they played a showcase at this years Juno Awards for a crowd of 5000, followed by June’s North-by-Northeast festival in Toronto.

Currently back in Winnipeg for a short break from touring, Lamoureux and Macpherson are back with producer Creighton Doane working on the band’s third album. According to a recent posting to their website, Lamoureux says that she and Macpherson are also writing songs for a musical, something new for the duo.

At a younger age, Lamoureux says she listened to a range of pop music, “I think the fact that I listened to such a wide variety of music helped me to develop my songwriting skills.” On the other hand, Macpherson says although it was artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young who first inspired his songwriting, he finds himself a very loyal Paul McCartney and John Lennon fan. “I think the latter (Lennon/McCartney) really inspires my songwriting and pushes me to consider broad ranged melodies and better lyric choices.”

When approaching their songwritting, Lamoureux and Macpherson both find inspiration in different ways. Lamoureux listens to life around her. “Lyrics will happen more when I've heard an interesting story and then I'll journal write about it. It's hard to say really how song writing happens. You just have to open yourself up to it and it comes,” she says. Macpherson’s lyrics come with the music, “I have always been stronger at writing the melody initially. Melody seems to come more naturally for me. I usually record melodies when they come to me and sing whatever words rhythmically pop into my head to suit the melody.”

“I hope my lyrics speak to other people besides myself. I always feel that if I write lyrics from a place of honesty, that is all I can control,” Macpherson says. The songs each have a sense of self-awareness and self-reflection in the lyrics. Perhaps it is the honesty that Macpherson puts into his writing or the therapeutic feeling that Lamoureux feels when she writes that convey these senses.

Left to interpretation, the lyrics to “Only A Girl” convey the frustration of someone who is stuck at a moment in their life. “I am only a girl who suffers like you / I have just the amount of patience that you do too / I have the courage to be brave / I can conquer anything / but something’s got me trapped inside.” Considering their listener’s perspective of their music, Lamoureux says, “I would hope that they feel like they can relate because what we write about is normal life stuff that happens to everyone. I'm just writing about how I'm feeling in the moment and I think everybody has the same kinds of feelings in life.”

When it comes to their live shows, their music has two unique outlets, as Easily Amused performs both as a duo and with a full band. “There are pluses and minuses to both. Having a band is amazing cause you get to rock out and really feel the tunes. I get that safe feeling when I'm with the band, like I can do anything on stage and if I goof up, they've got my back.” says Lamoureux. “I am more of a band person if I had to choose.”

Like many artists that tour with a band and then give playing solo a try, Lamoureux says that the shows can be more intimate and there is more storytelling involved. “You do have that naked feeling on stage though, which at first made me feel very uncomfortable since I'm not much of a big talker. So it was a challenge for me. Now I've gotten used to it and I don't mind if there's a silent moment in the set.” With the power of Lamoureux and Macpherson’s voices, an Easily Amused show in either setting have their own nuance of beauty for the music. “No matter what setting though, you just have to really get into your music from start to finish and it will be a great show.” - Being There Magazine


DETOURS (2010) Produced by Stuart Cameron, Blake Manning, Creighton Doane (It’s Complicated) with Keith and Renee. Recorded at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, ON in four days sleeping on couches in the once was a church turned into studio. Did not plan to record album right away but got a call from Stuart who said he really wanted to record KnR and the rest was history.

REVOLUTION (2007) Produced by Creighton Doane, recorded at Doane Leblanc in Toronto, ON

SIMPLE STUFF (2004) Produced by Creighton Doane, recorded at Doane Leblanc studios in Toronto, ON

NOVICE (2001) Produced by Rick Unruh, recorded in Winnipeg, MB



What started as an awkward meeting through a friend turned music making magic has now brought Keith and Renee to ten years as a musical duo, but not without a whole lot of work and determination.

Starting out as a four-piece band and then branching off into a duo, Keith and Renee have so far released four albums with a fifth on the way this summer. Starting off with a folk-pop sound on Novice (2001), Simple Stuff (2004) and Revolution (2007), the duo saw much deeper interest from the public by the latter album as their single ‘Good Year’ was chosen as the Manitoba Homecoming 2010 official anthem song. Come 2010 with the release of their 4th album Detours, the band shifted their sound to a slight country-pop vibe which won them an even wider audience, along with a spot on David Suzuki’s Playlist for the Planet with “The One”.

For their fifth release, Best Day (Fall, 2011), Keith and Renee have veered toward a mature country-pop sound as well as taking their song-writing to a whole new personal level by recording as they were writing the new songs as well as tweaking them constantly along the way to create the best product possible. This approach made the band much more aware of who they are both as artists & songwriters at this point in their time together, all the while keeping their unforgettable harmonies and tight musicality well intact.

Keith and Renee, though, have never been about making music just to make money or hear it on the radio. Through the years, their humanitarian efforts and spreading the message of helping make a positive change through music has shined through. Not only by touring endlessly from coast to coast, but heading even further away to Dubai and Kenya, Africa as part of Free The Children. It’s here that the band shared their positive energy and ideas with the residents all the while helping them build a school and introducing them to their music with mini concerts, an experience that will always hold a place in their hearts. Along with those trips, Keith and Renee made their way to 150 schools across Canada speaking to over 100,000 youth hoping to reach them on deeper level by hearing the student’s own personal stories.

Besides on their albums, don’t be surprised if you’ve heard Keith and Renee elsewhere including TV, movies and commercials since they’ve landed placements with AT&T, Degrassi The Next Generation/ Degrassi goes Hollywood, Canadian Idol, Hallmark movie For The Love of Grace’, ‘The Kate Logan Affair’ film, and many more.

As much as Keith and Renee have accomplished musically thus far, they also spread the creative love in other areas including Keith working as a full-time Moksha Yoga instructor and Renee running Renee Leone Designs specializing in using recycled materials to make clothes and accessories.

With their hands more than full, Keith and Renee couldn’t be more looking forward to sharing even more of their music with the world. The “Best Day” is yet to come!