We’ve adored Tegan And Sara’s bittersweet tales of love and heartbreak ever since we first discovered them on their debut record, Under Feet Like Ours, way back in 1999. And while their next two records did much to etch the twin troubadours into our hearts, it would be 2004’s emotionally epic So Jealous that would prove to be their breakout. Songs like ‘I Know I Know I Know’ and ‘Where Does the Good Go’ are still lauded as quintessential Tegan And Sara sing-along anthems, and the Canadian pair have ably kept up their hit-making tendencies with follow-up records offering catchy ditties such as ‘Nineteen’ and ‘Alligator’. But more than earning a wider fan base, those songs also hinted at the duo’s gradual shift from indie pop to more electronic pastures, a move that would solidified in their latest effort, Heartthrob! We discussed Tegan And Sara’s new phase with Tegan here.
Hearthrob’s obviously a bit of a departure for you both. Was the new electronic and pop direction something that you planned?
Of course! With each new record we have a sense of where we’re going before we begin. Once the demos start piling up we tend to head in one direction or another and choose a producer accordingly.
Were you both always fans of dance music? Or was this a more recent thing?
We have always been interested in both pop and dance music. People don’t really know this but we spent a lot of our youth going to raves and listening to electronic music.
Besides the sound, the lyrics seem to be pretty different too. There seems to be more confidence and romance in this one, as opposed to the heartbreak and sadness of your previous stuff. Was that the theme you were going for?
There are definitely tracks on Heartthrob that are much more romantic and positive than on past records. Stuff like ‘Drove Me Wild’, ‘Love They Say’, and ‘Closer’. But I think the bulk of the record still reflects the darker side of relationships and love with songs like ‘How Come You Don’t Want Me’ or ‘I Couldn’t Be Your Friend’. We definitely pushed ourselves to try and write from different perspectives and try new themes on Heartthrob.
What is the significance of the term Heartthrob to you personally?
I liked the word to start with. I also liked the literal image of a heart throbbing. I liked the idea of appropriating a term generally attached to men. I also liked the idea of us casting ourselves as fans and our romantic interests being our heartthrobs.
How involved was Greg Kurstin with the production and what impact did he have?
Greg Kurstin produced eight of the 10 tracks on Heartthrob. He was VERY involved in the production. I like to depict us as architects and producers as the builders. Sara and I record extensive demos and then when we get into the studio the producers help build from the demos into a structure that becomes the record. Greg’s flair, ability, ideas and influence are everywhere on Heartthrob but the demos definitely dictated the direction he took.
Tell us a bit about your documentary Get Along. That DVD felt like a clear demarcation between the past and present versions of Tegan and Sara. Did it feel that way as you were filming it?
We didn’t really know what to expect going into the filming of the three movies on Get Along. We weren’t yet sure of the package or the scope of the films. But I knew that I personally felt that a chapter of our lives was closing because we turned 30 during the filming of one of the films. I felt very reflective.
The DVD also got you your first ever Grammy nomination! Congrats! How do you feel about something like that?
I typically have paid little attention to awards during the span of our career. I do like watching awards shows for the performances and celebrities though! (Laughs) It was really cool being nominated though. I have to say. It feels special to be singled out and recognized for your work. It was an honour to be nominated!
Being bandmates and twins, people get the impression that you both are inseparable. But you both actually live far apart…
I think the cities we choose to live in certainly reflect a different side of each of our personalities. It’s nice to have a break post tour. We are very close and spend a lot of time together on the road and off the road so the distance doesn’t really affect us that much.
As little kids, did you both envision being in a band together?
No! It wasn’t until we were 16 that we even joined a band together and not until we were 19 that we made a record and really “went for it”.
Name us one non-musical thing that you can do better than Sara, and vice versa…
(Laughs) I’m not sure we have a ton of other hobbies… Sara can draw! Which, I cannot. I seriously don’t have any skills other than music! (Laughs)
Tegan & Sara will be performing at this year’s Urbanscapes, happening on 23 and 24 November at MAEPS, Serdang.