Toronto
2 min

Tegan And Sara

Wonder twin powers activate

'WE HAVE REALLY DIFFERENT STYLES.' Tegan Quin (right) spills the beans on the musical differences between her (conventional rock and pop) and her sister Sara (epic and abstract). Credit: Xtra files

“I feel like you wouldn’t like me if you met me/ Don’t you worry there’s still time,” warns Tegan Quin, the labret-sporting half of the queer twin sister duo Tegan And Sara, on the opening track of their Sep 14 release, So Jealous. “Sara and I had been in therapy,” explains Tegan, “and I heard horrible things about myself: that I talk too much, overwhelm people, that I’m self-absorbed. It was difficult. It’s really a coming of age record. Instead of that ‘look at our broken hearts’ selfishness, it’s about jealousy, insecurity, being socially awkward.”



So Jealous, which boasts more of the infectious riffs delivered on their 2002 release If It Was You and 2000’s This Business Of Art, was written with Sara living in Montreal and Tegan in Vancouver – the first time they’ve composed independent of one another. “We’re really different people and we have terrible communication skills,” says Tegan. “Producing each other from across the country gave us the opportunity to work differently. I didn’t feel self-conscious or challenged; I felt able to write. We did a lot over the phone: Instead of fighting, we did a lot of hanging up.



“It also let us understand each other differently. We have really different styles: Mine’s more conventional pop and rock, while Sara’s is more epic and abstract. I hear her songs as art pieces. When I heard [the title track] ‘So Jealous’ the first time, it gave me perspective. Sara was really sad. She left a lot behind when she moved to Montreal, and she went there because it was the one place she knew no one. Between the two of us, I’ve always been the tough, aggressive one. It was the first time I saw this powerful side of Sara. And she’s been able to see a lot of vulnerability in me.”



The Calgary-born Quins, now 24, have been making music together since they picked up guitars at 15 and formed their first band Plunk. “It was mostly drunk and loud. We had one song where we’d just yell, ‘Gregory lies and he’s fucked up’ for five minutes straight. Our mom hated us. When the PA broke, she wouldn’t buy us another one. And we got tired of playing with boys, so we started Tegan And Sara.”



They’re still playing with the boys, however. “We’re constantly being asked to prove ourselves as musicians because we’re girls. Really, every day is like being a girl in a guitar store. I was buying strings one day and the guy gave me a really hard time. As I was leaving, he offhandedly said, ‘Did your dad buy you a guitar for Christmas?’ And I said, ‘No, Neil Young did!’ I was so mad. I’ve travelled in a band, slept with six people in a van on sides of highways, Taco Bell parking lots. We didn’t climb the ladder fast!”



No, but their track record is impressive. At just 17, the Quins won Calgary’s 1998 Garage Warz battle of the bands. Two years later, Neil Young heard their demo and immediately signed Tegan And Sara to his label, Vapor Records. Since then, they’ve shared stages with Young, The Pretenders, Ben Folds, Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright, among others.



And their fan base is dedicated, though sometimes unruly. “One of the last times we played Lee’s Palace, a girl punched out our promoter to get backstage. It’s intimidating when boys get aggressive, but more so when girls are – you don’t expect it. There’s a definite intensity to meeting fans. It’s great. But I hate when boys with no shirts ask for hugs – we don’t do that. I don’t do laps or kissing and I don’t sign chests or breasts. I don’t know why people think signing boobs is a good idea – it’s the alcohol, for sure.”



TEGAN AND SARA.

(with guests).

All ages. $16. 8pm.

Mon, Sep 27.

Mod Club Theatre.

722 College St.

(416) 588-4663.