Date: August 2005
Publication: Rip It Up, Adelaide Street Press
Canadian twins Tegan & Sara are returning to Australia for their second time, bringing their full band and latest release, So Jealous, the follow up to their debut album If It Was You. They've performed at the SXSW Music Festival, the US Farm Aid Concert and on the same stage as Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sonic Youth. You may have even caught them on rove live in 2003. They're now teaming up with Little Birdy to tour so we spoke to Sara on the phone as she lay on her bed in a Nashville hotel room. We began by pointing out that even though the sisters write separately, they claim equal credits on all songs.
"We definitely acknowledge each other's songs on stage, but I like to take credit for our American success due to my song Walking With A Ghost," she chuckled. "What it comes down to is that it's a total partnership and collaboration, so we don't feel the necessity to distinguish between the two. We've considered doing separate records to explore the differences in our songwriting, but for now we smooth over things to appear as one songwriter."
It's difficult for the listener to distinguish between who wrote a particular song.
"Yeah," Sara agreed, "but, to me, it's kinda like the way people see us as identical twins. When I look at Tegan I see someone who looks completely different than me, and it's hard for me to understand how anyone can mistake us as I see everything about Tegan that's not like me. We both love and write different types of music and the older we get the better we cope with being sisters in a band together without independence from each other. Most people say they could never be in a band with a sibling, but we've now been able to do it for 10 years."
Are you bothered when people go on about you being lesbians?
"I often wonder what we did that made them decide it was a focus, but maybe being twins, girls, cute and gay is too much for them to handle?" Sara pondered. "I can't censure what they write, but it's not as relevant to us, so we talk more about our projects than our sexuality. I would never want to hide it and refuse to spend my whole career talking about a fake boyfriend. We're far from being a band solely aimed at the gay community and we have a real patchwork of people who come to our shows which highlights the accessibility of the pop music we write.
"Sexuality should have nothing to do with the conception of art," Sara then added, "so why should it matter? Even though a tune may have been inspired by my girlfriend, it doesn't make it any less inspiring for someone else to like that song. The joy of music is that so many bands can become the soundtrack of your life even though what they're writing about is them. But it can so easily become about you."