Publication:Excalibur Newspaper - York University, Toronto, ON
Headline:The Long Road to Recognition
Signing a major record deal can be a big change.
Especially when you are still 19.
"Things are moving along quite quickly now,” asserts Tegan Quin, who along with her twin sister Sara, form one of the freshest sounds this country has heard in a while. “ This is my last weekend of freedom for a long time. I’m not doing anything today. I’m still in my pajamas and I plan to stay that way.”
Quin speaks with the knowledge that when she leaves her Calgary home for their upcoming date at Ted’s Wrecking Yard, she will no longer be playing music entirely for fun but will be doing so as a professional musician. Although Tegan and Sara have been playing and performing for almost five years now, the future seems to indicate that the folk rock duo will be expected to play a lot more, especially after signing to Neil Young’s Vapor Records, who will help introduce their thoughtful yet punchy songs to a larger audience. Vapor will release Tegan and Sara’s Under Feet Like Ours in the US later this year.
“Finding our way in our own and making a CD is the biggest thing we’ve done and signing that off to a label, no matter how nice they were was tough,” says Quin. “They tell you what to wear, what to play and how long to keep your hair. It’s still a nice cage with trees and stuff but it is a job and I can’t just get off stage when I want to now.” Even with a major label supporting them, the duo has no plans on changing their image in order to appeal to a broader market.
“I’m not compromising the way we make music, just how we get it out there,” says Quin. “We’re not going to play the ‘cute girl Ani DiFranco look alike.’ We’re still trying to figure out what our music is all about. We want to give people an idea of who we are on stage. You’ll see it’s not tough to do; we spend half our time talking.”
The record deal with Vapor Records should provide Tegan and Sara the opportunity to develop creatively while earning a living making music. Vapor will own the international rights to Tegan and Sara’s music, allowing the sisters to use the Canadian market as a testing ground for their sound.“We’re going to really push to be independent artists here and let (Vapor) sell ourselves elsewhere,” says Quin. “I don’t know how the deal happened really. Our manager sent a demo to Elliot Roberts (Neil Young’s manager) and he liked it. Neil has the final say in all the deals on Vapor and he really pushed for a lot of the stuff that’s in our contract.”
Neil Young isn’t the only one who’s taken notice of Tegan and Sara. Already at the age of nineteen, the tandem has performed as part of Lilith Fair and the Scrappy Bitch Tour, with Veda Hille, Oh Susanna and Kinnie Starr and Hayden.
Like many musicians, the duo had humble beginnings. “We learned classical piano when we were younger,” explains Tegan. “It wasn’t until we picked up acoustic guitar that we felt we had the freedom to write and play what we wanted. People noticed us. It was weird but before we knew it we were on these tours. Then we just plunked ourselves down and wrote the record.”
Their different song writing styles make it very apparent that being twins does not mean that you are getting twiceas much of the same thing. Tegan’s idealism is nicely balanced by Sara’s romanticism.
“The twin thing was annoying for a while there but now its alright,” says Quin. “We’re totally different and you can hear that on the album. When you see us, though, you can tell we’re twins just by the energy. It’s all negative.”
While most of that angst has been channeled into socially conscious songs and gusty deliveries, the prospect of being on the road does have its shortcomings.
“In Vancouver we play to sold-out clubs and it’s great,” says Quin. “Then we come to Toronto and the clubs are empty. We have a real western sound so it’s a challenge to come here and play. Toronto artists are raised in an environment where success is taken for granted whereas in Calgary, papers write with the question ‘will they ever make it out of here?’ in mind.”
Quin isn’t worried.
“I think there is a market for us though. That’s awesome.”