When Tegan says, so decisively, “That’s just the way it is,” you get the feeling she’s thought this through before, perhaps even, a lot.
“Being gay or being female or being a twin or being Canadian — all these things are definitely boxes you can check off next to who we are. But it doesn’t define us entirely and I think sometimes that it’s just not that relevant to our actual music.”
She pauses for only a moment before leaping into an explanation.
“At the same time it’s hard to separate our music from who we are. I write about relationships and I’m gay. So my take on relationships and my perspective is based on being with a woman. And it’s different being with a woman. There’s this incredible emotional bond that happens between women.
“There’s a lot of drama and it’s intense. I dated men for a really long time, and dating a boy I never felt this same intense longing. But maybe if I were straight I would have felt that feeling anyway. So, even though these songs reflect on who we are, we haven’t reinvented emotions simply by being gay. All those feelings in our songs are universal.”
An interview with Tegan Quin is a learning experience. Questions are answered before they’re asked, a testament to the many hours Tegan has put in with the obviously predictable press. And she has a lot to say; she’s been honing her craft and her interview responses for years. She and her identical twin-sister Sara have been making waves in the Canadian music industry and abroad since they were teenagers. They have over a decade of experience as queer, female Canadian artists.
(And, as an aside, they’re utterly adorable and feisty as hell.)
Tegan and Sara just released their fifth album, The Con, on July 24, 2007. Highlights like “Relief Next To Me,” “Are You Ten Years Ago?,” “Back In Your Head,” “Soil, Soil,” “Nineteen,” “Burn Your Life Down,” “Like O, Like H,” carry the signature Tegan and Sara feeling — a savory bold and sexy edginess with tight hooks and kickass originality. It has appeared unanimous and Tegan agrees, that The Con has been their highest achievement to date.
“Anytime you release an album, it’s your favourite thing. That’s just a product of time; we put out our first record at age 18. And with So Jealous (2004) specifically, we were on the road for over 18 months, and played 200 shows. Naturally our playing and our singing got a lot stronger.”
Not that their previous releases were particularly weak, or weak at all. Tegan and Sarah have toured several of their albums, internationally pushing boundaries in the largely male-oriented rock industry. And while it’s become easier, nobody’s claiming yet that this is an equal world. But for Tegan and Sara, that part of the struggle has faded to the background.
“We just toured Europe and the whole tour we were the only fucking girls. And we didn’t even think twice about it. We just get up on stage and do what we do. And for that 45 min, the audience is mine. It doesn’t matter that I’m a girl or that I’m gay. Chances are they’re going to like the music and they’re going to like me. And if they do, all the other things like being a girl or being gay, become irrelevant.”
With a cult-like following, the sisters are right to feel secure and comfortable in their careers. Feeling they accomplish more simply by being who they are, rather than preaching, the two just do their thing followed by a loyal-to-the-death, but extremely diverse, crowd.
In true Quin style, Tegan ends the interview with a nonchalant laugh.
“If they’re fucking clapping over their head and cheering, at some point, if they don’t already know I’m gay they’re going to figure it out and if their opinion of me changes, then so be it. But I don’t think it will! I look out into our audience as it grows and as it changes, and I’ve realised that they don’t care. And the ones that do care, they care because they think it’s awesome!”