Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara
In just a few years, twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin released a handful of records, evolved their sound from stripped down to revved up folk-punk and toured with artists from Ryan Adams to Neil Young. "Smart songwriters about love, the gay Canadian-born twin Quin sisters write poems filled with self-doubt that mirror reality, deliver them with delicious close vocal harmony and back them up with an addictive, breezy pop soundscape," wrote Billboard of the duo. On their albums, the twins interchange vocals and guitars in a truly complementary manner. The blurred identity of their voice and guitar playing is what makes Tegan and Sara work as a classic style duo, updated for a new generation.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on September 18, 1980, playing music was an every day occurrence for Tegan and Sara. From ages eight to fifteen, the girls played piano, but they turned to acoustic guitars, on which they began to write their own songs. When they were seventeen, someone anonymously entered the twins into a battle of the bands, which jump-started their career as a live group. In 1999, the girls released a low-budget recording titled Under Feet Like Ours.
Attention from Under Feet Like Ours soon landed the twins on Neil Young's label Vapor Records. The girls began to record their new album with producer and musician Hawksley Workman. Workman wanted to take their stripped down teenage angst-filled folk and rev it up a bit. They recorded the album on a tight budget in nine days. "… Hawksley Workman came in and he didn't think we were folk music at all. He said, 'I think people are pigeonholing you in the wrong genre. You're singer/songwriters but you fu∗∗in' rock out,'" Tara told Canadian Musician.
In the summer of 2000, Vapor issued This Business of Art, a tight album of youthful, poppy, Ani DiFranco-style folk that sounded completely unique with the sisters' interesting harmonies. The tongue-in-cheek album title, according to Sara was a testimonial to their lives. "We're happy with what's going on in our career and it's sort of a statement," Sara told Chart Attack. "We're not saying everyone should have to be involved in their business because they're a musician, but we're saying that we like being involved in our business and that we're making decisions for us …".
The underdeveloped album received international praise including Entertainment Weekly's Neil Drumming who described the record as, "Concentrated teen anxiety (ya know—dating, resisting, and general emotional confusion) spat, scat, and yelped over pummeling folk riffs." The girls finished 2000 by touring with Neil Young and later Rufus Wainwright. In the winter, the two moved from Calgary to Vancouver, British Columbia.
In 2001, the songwriters began to work on new songs. The girls each work on their own songs separately and then bring them to each other when they are almost finished. Their new songs had a bit more of a pop skip to them, Sara told Canadian Musician. "I wanted to do more of a fun record. We were listening to a lot of Cyndi Lauper and The Police and we're like, 'We wanna bounce,' " Sara said. Tegan and Sara enlisted John Collins and Dave Carswell of The New Pornographers to producer their 2002 album. "They encouraged us to try different things," Sara told Canadian Musician. Carswell and Collins both played a lot on the record, adding to the full-band sound that captured the August 2002 release of If It Was You. That fall, Tegan and Sara put off their own headlining tour to play in the States with singer Ryan Adams. When it was over, the duo headlined their "Born in the Eighties" Canadian tour into 2003. When the tour was over, Tegan went back to Vancouver and Sara moved her things to live in Montreal, Quebec.
The fall of 2003 saw the girls recording their own demos at their individual homes before bringing them together in a band setting. For once, they had ample time to write and record demos before getting in the studio. When it came time to record their new album, Tegan and Sara once again enlisted Collins and Carswell to produce, along with Howard Redekopp to make a new record at Vancouver's Mushroom Studios. A full band affair, former Weezer member Matt Sharp was brought in to play Moog and some strings were used to help fill out the sound. In an interview with the North County Times, Tegan said that their new album, So Jealous (released in September of 2004), often felt like their first proper album. "The first three records we made, we had low budgets, we had limited skills in the studio. So we did what we could," she said. "… So Jealous to me could have easily been our first record. I think we finally entered the game."
So Jealous received more acclaim than any of the previous Tegan and Sara albums. With more decidedly effortless hooks and angst replaced with rock flavor, Billboard described the album as "… an intimate record that is as rocking and infectious as it is contemplative." The use of synthesizers and catchy pop choruses displayed a slight new wave style thrown into their usual acoustic guitar folk-pop. "Walking With A Ghost," the enthralling single from So Jealous became a regular fixture at shows by The White Stripes, who recorded their own version and released it on EP in December of 2005.
For the Record …
Members include Sara Quin (born on September 19, 1980 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada), guitars, vocals; Tegan Quin (born on September 19, 1980, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada), guitar, vocals.
Group formed, 1998, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; twin sisters released debut Under Feet Like Ours, 1999; signed to Neil Young's Vapor Records, 2000; released This Business of Art, 2000; toured with Neil Young, 2000; released If It Was You, 2002, toured with Ryan Adams; released So Jealous, 2004.
Addresses: Record company—Sanctuary Records Group, 369 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017. Website—Tegan and Sara Official Website: http://www.teganandsara.com.
So Jealous was named as one of Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of 2005. When they are not recording or touring, Tegan and Sara live separate lives in different provinces. They have individual lives but are well aware that the music they make together is very special. "I'm a firm believer as a twin for 25 years that we are missing parts of ourselves because we were supposed to be one and we were two," Tegan told the North County Times. "I believe in music we will always have (that)."
Under Feet Like Ours, self-released, 1999.
This Business of Art, Vapor Records, 2000.
If It Was You, Vapor Records, 2002.
So Jealous, Vapor/Sanctuary, 2004.
Billboard, September 26, 2004.
Canadian Musician, January-February, 2003.
Entertainment Weekly, December 13, 2002.
"Tegan and Sara: A Family Affair," ChartAttack.com, http://www.chartattack.com/DAMN/2000/10/1911.cfm (February 14, 2006).
"Tegan and Sara Share More Than Music," North County Times, http://www.nctimes.com (February 14, 2006).
Additional information was provided by Sanctuary Records Group publicity materials, 2005.
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