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Sara: Shirt by Tony Ward available at Church Boutique LA. Tegan: Shirt by Tony Ward available at Church Boutique LA. Often pegged to their labels — lesbians, identical twins, Canadian — the duo have spent nearly 20 years eclipsing what’s on the surface by focusing on their sound and message, gradually progressing from bedroom four-trackers to moody indie blowouts to their most ambitious incarnation yet: candy-striped, ’80s-indebted, queer-leaning New Wave that, instead of fetishizing sexuality, normalizes it. Forging a career that transgresses the boundaries of alternative rock and dives into infectious pop is new ground for Tegan and Sara.When he stripped back the demo, I realized it had a really strong arrangement and a strong melody, and the lyrics were great. I made friends and started a romantic relationship. We've lost a lot of people in the last few years. There's a relaxing of these old-fashioned ideas. So our goal is to make that performance feel and sound as good as possible. I hate going to shows where I'm like, "Uh, this sounds terrible." Or "Fuck, this doesn't sound like the record." Because there are only four people onstage making it, where the record has a hundred tracks on one song.He might ask us to play something in a different key or faster. Your first single is "Boyfriend." How did he help you with that one? It really started 12 or 13 years ago, when I moved up to Montreal. A lot of this album is thinking about that time: who I was, what it really meant to be on my own, the insecurity that came with it. Am I a freak of nature now because I'd just spent 17 years touring? When I brought that one in, I thought it would be scrapped. It was the first time in my life that I'd ever lived without Tegan. Another song that deals with relationship insecurities and feeling helpless is "Hang On to the Night." What inspired that? I'm in my mid thirties, and I'm starting to think about mortality a lot. I don’t understand why the world can’t relate to a song written by a queer woman.I’m writing about the same shit everyone is writing about.
“We are doing much better, but old habits die hard,” says Sara.
On their eighth album, , the duo take the rocky experiences from real-life relationships and send them up the flagpole in the hopes of finally cracking the mainstream.
Though they’re the most prominent contemporary gay female act to scale the charts (their 2013 album, , debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200), the 35-year-old songwriters have still spent most of their career as outsiders. Female artists such as Lady Gaga, Halsey, and Nicki Minaj have bent the spectrum of sexuality in pop culture but limited it to just one facet of their public persona.
After more than a decade of making indie-rock hits, the Canadian twin sisters largely traded guitars for synthesizers, focused on hooks and became even more of a success. I don't think we would have said, "I guess we have to get the old electric guitars out again and write more indie-rock songs."You worked solely with producer Greg Kurstin, who worked with you on , on this one. Tegan and I work best with producers who work almost like editors. Some of them may already have 60 tracks [of instruments] on a song. Now I'm like, "Fuck." If I could just get up onstage with just an i Pad, I probably would.
Their 2013 album, that after working with several producers and songwriters – including Jack Antonoff, Rob Cavallo and Mike Elizondo, among others – they realized they had invited too many cooks into the kitchen. Together, the Quins and Kurstin crafted strong, thoughtful, catchy songs like "Boyfriend," "100x" and "U-Turn," all of which explore various forms of relationships, from romantic ones to their own sibling dynamic. We really need someone who can dig through all of that and pick the strongest parts and elevate them. With this whole record, I was looking into who I am as a person.