Date: December 21, 2005
Headline: Q&A with Tegan and Sara
Twin sisters, lesbians, purveyors of off-kilter alternative folk-pop, Tegan & Sara were in NZ earlier in the year for one gig in Auckland, which went off. And they left promising to return a.s.a.f.p.
The Canadian duo got their start as part of the touring festival Lilith Fair (overseen by Sarah McLachlan) and were signed to Neil Young’s Vapor Records in 2000. Since their independent 1998 album the sisters have knocked out three great records: most notably If I Was You and the recent So Jealous. I got to speak to Tegan - very briefly - to find out what drives this pair to make the great music that they offer.
Canada is a rich musical terrain - how come so many Canadian acts have to go to America to "make it" back home? Or is that not the case at all?
I don't think that many Canadian acts do make it to America. It is only in recent years that bands from Canada have been getting big in America. I think Canada is just a small country and it makes it tough to be succesful.
What are the problems with working together as sisters that other, non-family acts don't have?
Well we can say things most friends or band mates would not. It allows us the release some friends and bandmates never get but it also brings and breeds a different type of tension.
What's the best and worst aspect of touring?
The best is the same as the worst. A new town, a new club, a new group of people every night. Very great and very lonely sometimes too.
Your latest album (So Jealous) seems to trace influences as far back as The Go-Gos and Bangles, as well as more recent Riot-Grrrl antics (Bikini Kill, Breeders, etc). What are your favourite bands and records that have gone in to informing your music?
We love tons of music. ALL the stuff you mentioned above is great. We grew up with Bruce Springsteen, The Violent Femmes, The Pretenders....we listen to a lot of alternative and pop music now.
And what are some of the "guilty pleasures" that you have musically? What things do you like, that fans would be surprised by?
We have no guilty pleasure. Music even crappy music is still music.
Your music falls in to many categories - folk, pop, punk, 80s revival - all of these 'labels' go someway to describing your sound. But none of them sum it up. How do you define your sound?
We call ourselves dysfunctional socially awkward indie pop.
How important do you think artists like Ani DiFranco and Sarah McLachlan have been for the empowerment of female musical artists?
Huge. Both are brilliant people and great musicians. Both have had great careers and done it on their own terms. They have made massive steps for women in music and music in general.
What's next on the horizon, musically?
Hopefully a new record. We never know what it is going to be like until it is done. We will be waiting patiently with everyone else.