Author: Emilie Clark
Publication: Synthesis - www.synthesis.net
Headline: Tee and Essing - Why you want to be friends with Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara are perhaps the hippest thing to come out of Canada since bacon. The 22-year-old twins have recently released a new album entitled So Jealous that will make you want to alternate between dancing, singing and hugging your friends - three things the sisters' lives seem to be full of. The Synthesis recently talked to Tegan about their new album, their career and what it's like to be in a band with your twin sister.
The duo recorded their first album when they were 18, and have been interested in music all their lives. "We came from a very musical family. Not that they played instruments, but our parents were really young when they had us, so they were still going to concerts. They were really big music fans. I can remember lip-synching to Phil Collins and Supertramp when I was barely 10." They really started to focus on music when they reached high school. "We were going to shows and gigs and got into different bands and music. We had played piano pretty much all our lives, but we started playing guitar. Once we figured out we could write music we started recording ourselves and playing it for our friends and we got a really good response. So it kind of turned into a bit of a passion. When we graduated high school I didn't really have any university plans, I didn't really want to go to school, so we started getting shows and stuff and it evolved into record deals and touring and lots of time with my sister."
Lyrically they aren't much different than many indie bands out there - lots of songs about broken hearts. Tegan says that "Generally, I think I write about matters of the heart, and it's not just my own, like this record sounds pretty down on myself and insecure and heartbroken, but I wasn't any of those things when I was writing this record. I was looking at old past experiences, reflecting a lot on the past, on relationships around me." But their lyrics are not homogenous; partially owing to the fact they live in different cities and don't write together.
Tegan says, "We write independently so sometimes it feels like we're in two bands and we just kind of put it all together."
This gives the band's music, especially So Jealous, a more distinctive, complex sound that fans appreciate. Tegan and Sara seem to like it as well.
"Obviously, you always feel like your newest record is your best to date, but I definitely feel like it's catching a lot more of the things we want people to hear about us," Tegan says. "And we had a lot more control over how the record turned out, being co-producers, doing the majority of the guitar work ourselves, overdubbing some of the piano and percussion, choosing who we wanted to work with. Just all of it coming together, it really feels like a real Tegan and Sara record, and we're very proud of it."
They have recently done a small tour to promote this album with a five-piece backup band, all of whom contributed to So Jealous. Tegan says she and her sister enjoy touring with a band. "Our first record we did [the tour] completely as a duo, and it was very exhausting. I always really like traveling with a band because I feel like, live, we're able to capture the record more closely, experiment a bit more and get more creative. Our roots are in songwriting, performing, entertaining and telling stories, so even when we do have the band, it's not a typical, conventional rock show. We're incredibly unconventional."
Their live show is characterized by their onstage banter, but Tegan's adamant that it's not an act. "We're definitely not circus animals, but we act like it. It's really natural for people to assume it's just schtick or we're just really out of control. And I think it's sort of a mixture of the two. It's just become sort of a natural habit on stage to just sort of talk, tell stories and make fun of each other. It's not deliberate, it's not scripted and it's not something we don't do offstage."
When the Synthesis spoke with Tegan, she spent some time bickering with her sister over her volume level and slowness in answering questions. But they seem to be stuck together, and they definitely don't want to break away and do solo work.
"I get my fill from this band," Tegan says. "I could see sometime in the future…maybe getting involved in other projects, but I like this project, I like making music here. I can't imagine climbing into a van, by choice with another band. Not at this point, anyway." Despite the fact that they aren't constantly together, Tegan and Sara are very focused on their "business." Sara does all the art for the CDs and the Web site, and Tegan recently made her first music video. They are definitely in charge of their careers and wouldn't want it otherwise.
"There's nothing more ignorant than an artist who has no idea about anything, but they're still fucking preaching and arguing and complaining," Tegan states. "It's so ignorant, and it's definitely not our goal to be ignorant - not to ever get too big for ourselves."