Author: Daniel Zugna
Publication: Melbourne 'Beat Magazine'
Headline: Sara Quin talks Daniel Zugna's ear off - and he loves it.
Usually when you hook up one of these trans-Pacific phone interviews, you're concerned that the muso on the other end, having put up with at least five other clowns before you, will be jaded and running out of things to say. Sara Quin, who along with twin sister Tegam makes up the group they named after themselves, likes to talk. And talk. And talk. Which is a wonderful thing, a muso with something to say! What follows is approximately one tenth or our illuminating conversation ...
Q: So Jealous was released a year ago in the States, although it just came out a couple of months ago here in Australia. Have you been happy with the way it's been received?
A: This has definitely been the most well received record we've put out. We've always made our focus the US, because our label is American, and it certainly seems to be a better record for us there, in terms of visibility and seeing more people but the record and people coming out to see us play.
Q: A handful of reviews I've read of So Jealous have suggested - and it's definitely a positive comment - that, whilst the album is great, it still sounds like you're playing within yourselves, that there's a kind of pop genius in there that's yet to be fully realised. Do you feel the same way?
A: I hope so. We were young when we started putting out records. I mean, we're still young in terms of age, I think it's natural to think that when you've lived more life you'll have more important things to say. At 24 years old, I think I've got a lot to say, but I don't think we have the maturity of the kind of records I grew up with, the kind of records I was inspired by. It's certainly something we hope to achieve. Some of my favourite artist, I don't know if they wrote their best material when they were 24, so I hope that people will give us a chance to put out a record that would be a classic record. We think we're probably capable of it, and I'd love to prove that to people. As far as this record goes, it's still a solid record. But I get excited when I hear people say we have this potential and we haven't realised it yet.
Neil Young's manager, Eliot Roberts, is the owner of the little independent label we're on. I remember when he signed us we were 18, and he told us that he didn't think we'd be making our best records until we were in our 30s, and I remember feeling this great sense of relied thinking that I had all these years to get myself together. That was exactly what we were looking for, we wanted to have an organic growth, we didn't want somebody to come in and style us up, and put us in the studio with really fancy producers and then not be ready to do it. I think that the best records are made when it's time to make them.
Q: After the commercial attention you guys received with the first few albums, you sound like you've still managed to stay true yourselves. Was there ever any sort of temptation or suggestion that you should tread the Avril or Michelle Branch path of angsty rock?
A: When we turned in If It Was You, they came back and thought it was a cool rcord, but were very surprised at the direction we had taken. I think they were worried that we were going to be positioned with these Avril Lavugne pop punk type artists. Tegan and I were initially taken aback,, because we never really saw ourselves to be part of this mainstream movement of pop music. We've always been inspired by intelligent pop music, like the Violent Femmes, or Ted Leo, alternative pop music in the idie scene.
We went with our initial instinct and released the record, and I thought that it was pretty well received but maybe not fully realised. When it came time to do So Jealous, we always want to ride this balance that we are singer / songwriters, and this band is about the songwriting and the personality behind Teagn and Sara. But also, we really like to make pop music, and we really like to be a rock band, or whatever. If we get compared to those bands, or we get caught up in that scene, I still think we've been able to establish ourselves as something different to those people.
Q: As purveyors of fine pop music, are you concerned at the direction pop music in general is heading: everything seems to be made to be a mobile phone ringtone, everything's being created for quick, move on to the next consumption. How does all that sit with you?
A: We've always been aware of that, we've never been a radio band and we've all of a sudden had a bit of success of American radio. Initially we were really turned off and questioned whether this was the right way to market our band. I honestly think that it's best to ignore what's going on. I know I do anyway, I look at the radio charts, the places we're being played, and I think that 90% of what's being played, nobody's going to care about in a year. And I just hope that won't be us. I hope that the true nature of what we're doing, people will be able to see, and will also be able to see through the stuff that isn't really sustainable. I honestly think that can't happen unless people come and see you play; I think that seeing us play live is the real deal, I know it is. Without soundingtoo overconfident or cocky, I know that when people finally see us play live, they see something completely different. I think we really want to make this connection with an audience. I don't want to be a band of the moment even if it means that it often feels like it's been a natural growth, I don't want people to feel like we've taken professional steroids or something. We really want to be natural about it.