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Philly2Philly Music Profile: Tegan and Sara

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Canadian twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quinn have released six combined albums under their first names: Tegan and Sara. Their latest work, Sainthood, was released in October 2009 on Neil Young’s  Vapor Records  in Canada, and Sire Records  in the United States. Tegan and Sara

While a seeming departure from their old material in terms of its electronic inspiration, Sainthood hit the Billboard Top 200  at number 21 and has been the duo’s best reviewed record, with SPIN Magazine  saying it’s “no longer the stuff of teens, but its strength remains in how much it feels like two people talking.” The duo even got positive words from Pitchfork, a site infamous for giving good music scientifically-figured bad reviews. Reviewer Joshua Klein called Sainthood, “infectious, but with enough edge to temper its undeniable desire to connect.”

Sara talked with Philly2Philly concerning Sainthood, the band’s new books, and their show at the Tower Theater  next Tuesday, February 16.

Philly2Philly: I’ve noticed your new album, Sainthood, features a heavier synth element than your previous albums. What, if anything, does the electronic aspect of the album have to do with the fact that you wrote the songs together rather than apart, as had been the usual game plan?

Sara Quinn: There really isn't a connection between the instrumentation and the collaborating we did. I think we get more comfortable exploring and using different sonic inspirations with each album. We used a lot of moog and keyboards on So Jealous and The Con, but I think the sparser instrumentation showcases the melodic lines on the keyboard in a different way on Sainthood.

P2P: How do your writing styles differ?

SQ: Tegan and I approach songwriting from opposite ends of the process. I generally like to start with drums and bass, arranging a structure and then using the guitars and keyboards to create melodies out of the implied melodies of the rhythms. Usually lyrics come last. Tegan seems to start with basic guitar structures and lyrics, building the instrumentation last.

P2P: Your lyrics tend to be emotional, raw, and close to the subject. How, if at all, is your writing process therapeutic?

SQ: I think it’s therapeutic to channel and explore feelings through words and emotion. I like to think of the actual expulsion of energy during the writing process as brain exercise.

P2P: Has there ever been a subject you’ve felt too close to, to write about?

SQ: Yes!

P2P: You released a set of three books – ON, IN, AT – as a supplement to Sainthood. Where did you come up with the idea? How did the book writing publishing process compare with the music production process? Is it something you’d consider doing again?

SQ: Tegan initially had the idea to create a photo book that collected images of our lives on the road. We worked to expand on that idea by collecting essays and stories from friends and collaborators. For us, publishing this project completely on our own provided tons of insight into a world that is somewhat parallel to the music industry. The business is quite similar, although the cost of writing, editing, manufacturing, shipping and marketing the book vary in many ways. So it's been fun to figure it all out.

P2P: I’ve got to ask you about the NOFX song “Creeping Out Sara.” What was your initial reaction when the song was released? Is it based on true events you’d be able to tell me about?

SQ: I like NOFX, and it was loosely based on Mike meeting me backstage at a festival in Germany. I respect the band and felt that the song was not meant as any sort of disrespect. I think it falls closely in line with the themes and sentiment explored in the majority of their material.

P2P: Tell me about the last time you were in Philly.

SQ: I shopped! I had a great time at the show and bought some great clothes from a cool little boutique! I love Philly!

P2P: And what can fans expect this time?

SQ: The show feels really strong right now. The music, the lights, the performance, I think it’s all great.

 

Photo: http://www.canvasmedia.ca/artists_spotlight.php?search=Tegan and Sara