Just because they’re from Canada doesn’t mean that Tegan and Sara don’t know how to rock. These Calgary natives, and twins, have recently released their second album If It Was You, the follow up to This Business of Art. While they’ve headlined tours throughout Canada and have a huge following there, they are just now beginning to infiltrate the States with their catchy, angsty pop rock, brought to you courtesy of MTV News, and opening up for Neil Young, Ryan Adams, and Ben Folds. In the studio their tunes are heavier, accompanied by drums and bass, but on tour they are armed with a single acoustic and an electric. Don’t be wary: their voices are good enough to carry the show themselves, and their songwriting is not only refreshing, but mature beyond their 22 years. Check out “Monday Monday Monday” or “I Hear Noises” off their new album. You won’t be ashamed to admit something good has come out of Canada.
Voices: How would you convince someone your album is worth a spin?
Tegan: Well, I think it’s worth a spin because, like, from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty fun to listen to, especially if you haven’t heard it before… It’s a really different sounding record. I really think people should give it a chance because it won’t sound like anything you’ve heard before. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily like it, but it will definitely be interesting…and if they don’t like it, they can sell it on eBay for 30 bucks.
Do you think you learned most about this business by yourself or from other people who have been through it, like the people you’ve toured with in the past?
No, I think it’s definitely just us. I mean, it’s just living. We just lived. I mean, that was…four-and-a-half years ago [when we started], and I think we were definitely, not that we’re not making music for ourselves now, but I think that there wasn’t as big an awareness…Now, I think we’re more protective of our image and our music.
How do you think having a therapist mom affected the emotions and rationalizations of your songs?
A lot of skills she took and uses as a therapist, she still has… We were an incredibly dysfunctional family to other people, but not to us. That’s how we functioned–we yelled and talked and overtalked everything. Everything was out in the open…My mom worked with teen girls when we were teen girls, and she would come home and one day be like, “I am so thankful that you’re not in trouble and you’re good kids,” and the next day, she’d be yelling, “you’re the worst child ever.”
What would you say the differences are between your styles [Tegan's versus Sara] of songwriting?
I, um, have no idea. I think because our personalities are always changing, and sometimes there are times when I’m far more extroverted and Sara’s more introverted, or I’m introverted and Sara’s extroverted, and I think our writing’s sometimes like that. Especially when I’m feeling really locked inside myself, I feel more able to write. And when I’m feeling extroverted, I feel like really happy and extroverted, and even though I’m happy, I can’t write a song off the top of my head, and Sara comes out and she’s like, “Woah!” and I just feel awful. I think our writing fluctuates, and I think more than anything, our style of writing is fluctuating like whatever we’re listening to at the time, depending on the type of music, but I think that the difference is just where we’re at at the time.
When you’re writing songs, is it a collaborative effort?
When we first started writing, it was completely independent and then we started recording. And when we realized that we were both writing, we would meet, and I would bring, like, a base of a song and some lyrics, and we would structure it together and stuff. But, after our first record, we really didn’t do that. I mean, we probably wouldn’t have done it with the others, but now, we live 3,000 miles apart, so there isn’t a lot of time to sit down… [Tegan and Sara argue how exactly far it is from Calgary to Atlanta. The tour manager settles that it's a little more than 3,000 miles but Sara is not content].
I think it’s good for us because it keeps us from sounding the same, and if you listen to our record, you realize that there are two distinct voices. I think that Sara’s writing, her lyrical content is very expressive in a way that my writing isn’t, and it gives our record, again, the potential to be different. I don’t think we’ll ever get caught up in writing the same kind of record all the time because there’s always one of us who will be changing.