March 2, 2000
Cowgirls in the Band- Neil Young's Label Takes an Interest in Calgary's Tegan and Sara
By Jake G. Richards
A short while ago in Alberta, a recording that showcased raw talent in the making was discovered and brought to the attention of Canada's finest expert, Neil Young. I'm not referring to the recent find of the Squires tapes in Edmonton, this particular recording is the work of Calgary based twin sister folk-pop soul-sisters, Tegan and Sara Quin, and their album Under Feet Like Ours.
Recorded in their living room and released independently in the fall of last year, the material quickly captured the interest of Vapor Records, the U.S. based label run by Young and his manager, Elliot Roberts.
"The relief I felt was overwhelming," Sara reflects ecstatically of the freshly inked contract. "I was so excited that a company was going to see us the way we saw us, which is 19 years old, just developing, more songwriter type thing, wanting a career, not just this flash in the pan kind of thing. Also, when we finally sat down and talked with Elliot about what the company was about and what Neil Young hoped for thus company, it just sounded all right.
Of course they're not gonna let us just do anything we want without telling them, but we pretty much have complete artistic control, creative control, it's really up to us. Even with this whole video thing, they had people that could have had us work with, but we have somebody in Toronto we wanted to work with, so it was like, 'OK, cool, do whatever you want.' Right from the beginning they just wanted us to develop, instead of molding us right now and finalizing what we're going to be, they're giving us the room to do whatever we do, wherever we grow to."
Constructing songs, Sara imparts, is a task the duo approaches as two heads working as one.
"We write completely separately, I usually bring my songs more fully completed to Tegan and then we start collaborating. She'll bring a song sort of half-assed done and be like, 'Okay, it's done! Let's work on it.' She's more of a music machine, pumping out the songs all the time and I definitely have a more finalized approach to it. We bring the song to the table and start working out different vocal parts, different guitar parts, how we can add and work off each other, and we complete the song that way.
What's cool about Tegan and I being sisters and it's relevance to our music is that we know each other so well, maybe that's why we work so well together, we know how to compliment each others music better."
When asked about performing in front of an audience, Sara explains how their sound has evolved and influenced the direction of the new album.
"The versions of the songs that are on the CD now --the songs that we do play --they just changed because we didn't have a band with us, like 'More For Me' has completely changed, it's a completely different song essentially."
Sara and Tegan's second album is in the works with Toronto's Hawksley Workman lending a hand. Consisting mostly of new tunes, the project will contain some re-vamped songs from Under Feet Like Ours. It is a marriage of the minds that will further enhance the Quin's complex sound and undoubtedly steer them toward more experimental waters.
"We wanted to do more of an update kind of thing, because it is pretty much a brand new album, different producer, different songs, different feelings. Because the deal with Vapor Records involved our first CD, I think what's going to happen is Under Feet Like Ours will just become our album and the new album, album B, will replace it.
"We met Hawksley through our management and being that he has a studio and does producing stuff, they threw us into the studio with him and we recorded a couple of songs. He was so fun, he's just crazy, it was a really different recording experience from what we were used to. We hadn't recorded for eight months when we first went into the studio with him, it was fresh material and I think we'd grown so hugely, so it was really fun to for him to get his vision of us and put it down, it was really cool.
This is exciting for us musically, I'm more excited about doing a brand new album than a record deal because it's like, 'Thank Gaws, we can do an album that we're playing right now. These are the songs, this is how we're playing them, these are the new songs, this is how we sound."
Regardless of your musical preference, Tegan and Sara are sure to please with a sound that delivers an entertaining mix of styles woven through intelligently crafted lyrics. Also on the bill is the wonderfully eclectic Hawksley Workman who will likely take to the back of the stage and help out during the Quin's set, all of which shall provide for a memorable evening from a few of Canada's brightest new talents.
Tegan and Sara perform at Van Gogh's Ear, 10 Wyndham St., N., Guelph, on Saturday March 8th. Call 821-9864 for more info.