Interview Tegan & Sara: ‘We Have A Wonderful, Very Supportive Audience’

El Hunt quizzes Calgary’s finest siblings on their new record, ‘Heartthrob’.

Tegan And Sara bring a whole new meaning to “cult following”. The Canadian siblings have a fiercely loyal fanbase; and it shows. If you count the years spent penning demos and borrowing time in their high school recording room, Tegan and Sara Quin have been making music together for 17 years, in a sprawling career that shows no signs of letting up. Evolving from teenaged diary scribblings of giddy romances, to grown-up musings on the nature of love, their songwriting always seems to have resonance. Tegan And Sara unashamedly write about love, and confess to being committed to it.

“We’re very stubborn,” laughs Sara, when we ask her why Tegan And Sara stuck to their guns when their record label suggested writing about different subjects. “For us,” she continues, “it’s less about the actual topic. It’s not that we only write about love, it’s that we’re very interested in dissecting relationships and the different roles we play in relationships. I think with this [next] record [‘Heartthrob’] we’ve tried to explore different perspectives though. As we get older it becomes easier to zoom out, and look at the whole picture, whereas when we were younger we were writing about what it feels like right now.”

Change, Sara adds, is immensely important, and in a new era of hyper-information, adapting is a top priority. “When we initially started out, in the late 90’s, we were going on instinct. Things were very different; the landscape didn’t involve the internet. I think we’re one of those interesting bands that came right at the time when things were getting turned up on their head, with iTunes, downloading, everything has changed so dramatically that we were sort of a part of that wave of change. We’ve had to become a band that connects with the audience. I still feel a little bit old fashioned; I really like to connect in person.”

Although Sara claims to be slightly wary of social media becoming “too invasive,” she does like to connect with the fans through one of her biggest loves, literature, and runs a dedicated section of the band’s website called ‘SKQ Reads’. “When I was a kid, I totally would’ve wanted to know what my favourite band was reading,” she enthuses. The arts in general play a huge part in Tegan And Sara’s songwriting too, Sara tells us. “Strangely, I get most inspiration from films, or TV or books; far more so than I do from actual music. I am a music fan, but I don’t feel like I go there for inspiration. I’m much more likely to think ‘ooh, I really love what’s happening on Homeland’.”

Despite valuing privacy, Sara did speak out in a well-publicised run-in with a certain potty-mouthed twit in a Supreme baseball cap, well known for his rather flippant and irresponsible use of homophobic and sexist language. Sara Quin took on Tyler the Creator, and in doing so, opened a Pandora’s box full of questions and concerns about the music industry. A year on, we’re interested to know if Sara feels misogyny is still a problem. “Absolutely, of course.” she says firmly. “As a community, we’re the ones who will essentially provoke the change that needs to happen. If we say we will tolerate misogyny or rape in music as a joke – if it’s thoughtful or a conversation or dialogue I understand the necessity – but I think if it’s done in a way that feels hateful or thoughtless I think it’s important to stand up. It’s about saying let’s be accountable, enough is enough. I think it is a problem still; it’s institutionalised in our society.”

Looking ahead now, Tegan And Sara are preparing to release their new album ‘Heartthrob’ in January, and also limbering up for a support slot with The Killers. “We’re touring right now in the US with The Black Keys, and when we got offered the support with The Killers it gave us the same feeling. We feel like we have a wonderful, very supportive audience, but we’re also thinking about the people who haven’t had the chance to hear us. With a band we deeply admire, like The Killers, it’s a great opportunity.”

Tegan And Sara’s new album ‘Heartthrob’ will be released in January 2013 via Warner.

Taken from the November 2012 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

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