Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin released their fifth album The Con in late July 2007. The Con was co-produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie and has already generated two successful singles, “Back in Your Head” and “The Con”.
Since the release, the 27 year-old identical twins have been selling out shows all across Canada and the US on their 15 month world tour. Success of their previous record, 2004’s So Jealous, never really calmed. In 2005 The White Stripes covered the sister’s hit single “Walking with a Ghost.” 2006 brought them a Juno Award nomination for Alternative Album of the Year.
From appearances on shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn and performing on The L Word to having their music played on Grey’s Anatomy and Veronica Mars, the young ladies haven’t stepped out of the limelight and public interest.
While on their world tour, Tegan Quin picks up her mobile phone and talks about her sister, the song writing involved with The Con and relationships as inspiration.
Growing up with a twin I imagine you shared a lot. Now in song writing together do you find yourself sharing secrets and emotions that you might harbour that come out in your music?
Sara and I actually never sat down to write a song together. When I finish a song and send it to her it feels like a complete song and I feel ready for anyone to hear it. Sara is pretty intuitive and knows what’s happening in my life. I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what she is going through.
Was there always a sense of understanding between you? Is there a special twin connection?
I don’t know anything different because I don’t have any other siblings I have nothing to compare it to. But I feel very attached to Sara and I share everything with her. If that’s the special connection they talk about, then we have that for sure.
Your music tends to reflect a lot of relationships you’ve had. Is The Con any different? What is The Con?
There are different themes on the record. Sara was writing more about looking back at her life and where she is at now and buying a home. I was writing about just getting out of a relationship and starting to date again. We were writing from different perspectives and about different things but the one thing that was common was that it was all about acts that we do to settle our lives and confirm our existence. They are all sort of cons because they don’t ensure anything. It could all end tomorrow. Our songs are ultimately about us and our experiences. It might be our experience with someone. With “The Con” I wasn’t writing to that person, I was writing to myself. I was telling myself to calm down. Even when I tried to be dramatic and tell someone, “This song is about you!” they’d say, “No it’s not. It’s about you. You’re dramatic and you’re talking about your drama.”
When you write about relationships, do you mostly write in retrospect or while the drama or heartbreak is going on?
In the past it’s been about writing about the past but with this record I was writing about current things that I was going through. I definitely feel like I was writing from the eye of the storm. We write about our own experiences and our own takes on experiences.
Why do relationships make for such good song content?
I write a lot about relationship and love because that’s the most difficult, challenging thing that I’m engaged in. Relationships have always been the drama in my life so it would be natural that I write about it.
Has writing songs about your relationships and publicizing situations made some relationships hard?
My music has never hurt any relationship I’ve had. People haven’t met me and said, “Well I thought we could be really good friends but your records seem insane.” Or “I don’t want to be friends with a dramatic person!”
What do the songs on this album in particular tells us about you as an individual?
Some of my songs on The Con are pleading songs. There aren’t any sweet loves songs. They are definitely asking for the attention that I want. I’m asking for something through these songs. I’m not good at asking for what I want.
No sweet love songs this time around, but have you wrote much about hatred or resentment?
Most of the relationships that I’ve wrote about I’m still good friends with the people. I haven’t explored the emotion or act of hate in my music.
I can’t remember a song you’ve wrote that describes the perfect relationship. Could you define one?
You could always strive for perfection but it’s a good thing that it doesn’t exist. You won’t ever have to be that disappointed when you find flaws in a relationship. You could take comfort in them because we all have them.
You’ve had songs on the hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and The L Word and the film Monster-in-Law. How do you decide on “lending” your music to TV and film?
Sara and I are picky about it. That’s a part of being in the business we’re in and you have to accept that maybe your music will be marketed in a different way. We haven’t thought about any songs off this record for TV yet. But it’s fun when friends and family randomly call us and say, “Oh my God, your song was on this TV show!”
What makes a Tegan and Sara concert different from any other band out there?
Sara and I have sort of always been doing our own thing. I don’t feel like we’re been grouped in with any other bands. We have this extra leg up sometimes because we have each other. We tell stories and make jokes on stage I think that engages with the audience in a different way than if we were just playing. We try to set everybody up to be different and not just stand there as a pedestrian to music. We like getting people involved.
The fact that you’re twins also must play a role in distinguishing you from other bands.
We try to get away from the fact that we’re twin sisters in a band together but ultimately that is what distinguishes us. We have each other and our voices are similar but different at the same time. We accent each other. Still we’re different. We’re Tegan & Sara. We’re sisters.