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Tegan & Sara's Sara Quin: We must seem like the biggest losers in love

Tegan and Sara.jpg
Photo by Lindsey Byrnes
Twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin's underground following has gone quite overground during the past few years. If you know their music, you probably consume it with rabid satisfaction. On their new album, Heartthrob, the two channel '80s synth pop and bring a dance vibe to their indie-rock aesthetic. While success may come with the price of sacrifice and giving up parts of your life, the sisters are not ready to slow down.

Before their sold-out show at First Avenue tonight, Gimme Noise spoke with Sara. Polite at first, the singer becomes animated as the phone conversation digs into her passions and stances on things that truly matter to her.

Gimme Noise: How has the tour been going? Have you been running into a lot of sold-out nights?

Sara Quin: It's been going really well. There's been some sold-out shows. The kids are really excited; people seem to be into the new stuff, and we're having a blast playing the new record. It's great to be back touring again.

GN: How has the crowd been responding to this new record?

SQ: Oh, great. They're really excited, and I think the new stuff sounds awesome live. It's good to have the album out, so people can get familiar with the songs. Every night, we've gotten a crazy response to "Closer," with it being the first single. It's fun for us. We have a great dynamic live show, and the music all works together.

GN: I was talking to a friend the other night about your new album, and he said that you guys reinvent yourselves with every new album. Do you feel this to be true, and do you consciously do so when you sit down to write?


SQ: Reinventing? I suppose so. It sounds like a childish analogy, but I always think of it like when I was a kid and going back to school. You go away for the summer, then at the end of it, you're getting ready to go back. You get a haircut, buy a bunch of new clothes, and you start fresh. I think -- in a way -- every album we put out, we are conscious at having an aesthetic and theme. We want to create a whole world and content that the tour and album can live in.

I don't think this record was a different process. It's just I think we pushed that process further. We didn't want to make a record that sounded like any of our other records. We wanted to push the audience to a different place, and we also wanted to potentially give ourselves the opportunity to reach more people and a new audience.

Reinvention sometimes has a bit of a negative connotation, but I think it is accurate to say that we did reinvent ourselves on this new album. We try to inspire the audience, but ultimately, we're at the heart of it all.

GN: I feel a lot of what an artist goes through during the making of an album influences the music. What influenced this album when you and Tegan were making it?


SQ: It's funny. I think that the record is so intense and confessional about certain parts of our lives. I feel we've made ourselves over our seven albums to be heartbroken -- sort of rejected. I refer to us as losers. We must seem like the biggest losers in love, because we're always singing these breakup songs.

Obviously that's not true; I'm feeling great in my life right now. I'm in a happy relationship, and I am very content with my career, but I think it's interesting for me to go back and reimagine and score things and concepts in my life -- through the lens of a 32-year-old -- and write about it. We take the interesting parts of our lives and reconstruct and write about them. There is a part of my life that is happy and full of love and that's reciprocated, but I don't find that to be very interesting in terms of a creative process. Sometimes they are things that happen to other people and sometimes they are things I've seen happen to other people or sometimes I'm even writing from the perspective of the other person in a scenario. All of these perspectives in that context are really fascinating to me to write about.

GN: You have been doing a lot of press for this album and tour. A friend of mine recently saw your feature in Rolling Stone and misconstrued what you said to mean that you were complaining about having to practice.
*(see photo) How do you feel when what you say gets turned around in publication?

Tegan and Sara Screenshot.jpg





SQ: The truth is that if we spent our whole lives worrying about people misconstruing what we think or what we say or what we do, we'd never get to the bottom of it. The reality is that the internet is a perfect breeding ground for people's opinions, reflections, and responses to what they see. If you see something that inspires, provokes, or intrigues you, you post about it and someone posts about your post. Onward it goes. So without seeming harsh, the truth is, I don't care what people write about. Because If I did, I would be completely bummed out by it. At some point, you have to realize that even the most innocuous statement can be misconstrued if someone is having a bad day or they read it the wrong way.

Tegan and I have fairly good boundaries with the internet, and we are very present artists, so the feedback, to me, is when we play live and in the studio. We are obviously very conscious of what's going on and how people are receiving us, but we can put up a photo and someone comments with, "My friend thinks this..." There's a million of those a day. I can't imagine the horrible or negative things people say. You can't buy into it, otherwise you'd go crazy.

Also, tell your friend I still hate rehearsing, and I don't care what he says. [laughs]

GN: Why do you hate rehearsing so much?

SQ: It's exhausting! You have to stand for ten hours and play the same songs over and over again. Where is this person from? Mars? It's the worst!

GN: Well, it's good that you still understand the importance of putting in that time to practice. A lot of artists believe that talent will take them all of the way.

SQ: At this point, I believe it's an absolute gift to be able to do something I love as my job. Not everybody will have that and at the end of the day, just because you're doing something you love doesn't mean there aren't things about it that you don't love.

I hate being away from my family and my friends. I hate that I have to miss my mom's birthday every year or that I have to miss holidays or people's funerals because I'm on the other side of the world and couldn't fly home. There are great sacrifices that you make when you are traveling and when you are traveling and investigating doing something for a living that takes you away from your friends and family. It's not complaining to acknowledge that there are sacrifices in your job. Sometimes you feel like you're doing the best thing in the world, and there are days when I truly feel blessed that we have this amazing opportunity to make art for a living.

At the end of the day, I don't take my job too seriously. It's still a job. You have to get up every day and sometimes you don't want to. Who doesn't want to lay in bed all day sometimes? It is what it is.

GN: There's tradeoff in life, no matter what job you do.

SQ: Exactly! The one thing that's really interesting and cool about what we do is that we get to meet so many different people. We've traveled all over the world; we've met so many wonderful bands and people in every walk of life. We've met so many different characters.

At the end of the day, the most significant thing to me is not my job. It's my friends, it's my parents, it's the private time I have with the people who I love and connect with. I think no matter what kind of job you have, most people if you ask them, "What's the most important thing in your life?" it probably wouldn't be their job. It would be their friends and family.
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