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Thursday August 21st 2014

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Hangout Fest ’14—Twin Heartthrobs

Sarah McCartan

If it seems like it has been a decade since the release of Tegan and Sara’s album “So Jealous,” it’s because it has been. Although this wasn’t their first full-length release, this album served as an introduction to this Canadian twin sister act.

With each passing year and the albums that have since followed, the duo has continued to shift shape. Last year marked their biggest year yet, with the release of their seventh full-length album, “Heartthrob,” featuring the hit single “Closer.” This synth-filled, pop-driven album is not only their most successful to date, but takes them worlds beyond their early indie rock roots and marks yet another chapter in the Tegan and Sara story.

A year later, Tegan and Sara aren’t simply going strong, they are stronger than ever and touring the globe. Thanks to the virtual world of connectivity, the IN was able to catch up with Tegan Quin via email in between show stops on their packed tour schedule.

IN: Do you consider “Heartthrob” to be a turning point musically?
QUIN: We try and do something fresh and different with each new Tegan and Sara record. “Heartthrob” was definitely our most aggressive effort to do something new, but I think our turning point musically was when we were making “The Con.” It was our first time really taking the reins and creating something that felt truly like us.

IN: Do you feel it’s a good time to be women in the music industry? And do you find there to be a great opportunity for you to empower women through your music, both those within the LGBTQ community and beyond?
QUIN: I think there are a lot of incredible female fronted, produced, written, performed music/bands right now in the mainstream, in the underground, etc. There definitely seems to be a lot of support for women in the industry currently. Personally, there could always be more, in my opinion. But I definitely feel like there is room for LGBTQ artists and women right now on radio. We’ve been really touched by the support in the mainstream for us and “Heartthrob.” Things are different than even four or five years ago.

IN: “Heartthrob” has been referred to as “intelligent pop.” Can you expand on this?
QUIN: Well, I think some of “Heartthrob” was simplified for effect. But songs like “How Come You Don’t Want Me” or “Shock To Your System” and even “I Was A Fool” are thoughtful and creative, while still being pure pop songs. We just ensure everything we write and release has depth. That’s what we meant by intelligent.

IN: When revisiting earlier albums, do you find yourself thinking, “Wow, that’s an entirely different Tegan and Sara?”
QUIN: Every record sounds like who we were at the time we were making it. I can see Tegan and Sara of the “So Jealous” era when I listen to the record. I think it’s like looking back through photos. Each record feels right for the time period, but weird now, because we’ve changed and evolved so much. Our lives are very rich with experience. And I think you can hear that in the music. From record to record, we’re creating a very extensive photo album of our lives via the music.

IN: At what age did the two of you begin playing your instruments and singing, and at what point did you decide to join forces?
QUIN: We started taking piano lessons when we were super young, like six or seven. When we were 11 or 12, we started taking classical piano and theory and testing for the Royal Conservatory each year. When we were 15, we started experimenting with writing songs on guitar. We took a few lessons but got bored easily. I think we really loved being able to just create our own music on the guitar after years of classical training on the piano. It took a long time for me to feel creative on the piano again. I had to basically unlearn the piano to write on it. And we started singing almost immediately after we picked up the guitar. I think we were maybe two months into playing the guitar when we wrote our first song together. We mainly used each other for background singing and to run the tape recorder to tape each other.

IN: Do you struggle with twin rivalry or any other variables that come with working with someone you are so close to, or does it merely provide a constant motivational challenge?
QUIN: I think we have normal sibling issues. We’ve never been super competitive. We complement each other well, I think. But there were definitely really hard years. While everyone around us was going off on their own to university, we were stuck together. I felt stunted sometimes always having to be with her. Now I feel grateful. And we live so far apart we get a lot of alone time to be ourselves and not “the twins.” I think we trust each other so much it makes up for the bad moments.

IN: Any pre-show rituals that you swear by?
QUIN: We just insist on 30 minutes of quiet time with the band. No media, interviews, industry talk. Just laughing and talking and preparing for the show. We do a group sing along to warm our voices up and then we hit the stage. We do the same post show. But only 15 minutes.

IN: How excited are you to team up with Katy Perry this fall?
QUIN: We are thrilled to be touring with Katy Perry. We are huge fans of her work. And I like her personally. I think she’s smart and talented, and I love the way she engages her audience. We met at the start of this record cycle. She was an early supporter of “Heartthrob.” We can’t wait to see the show every night and have the opportunity to share the stage with her and play to her fans.

TEGAN AND SARA
Saturday, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Chevrolet Stage