Music News & Reviews

Tegan and Sara have a bond that never breaks

“The whole two years has been crazy.”

Tegan Quin, one half of the Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara, is trying to pick a high point during their recent career ascension. It’s seen them debut their latest album at No. 3 on the Billboard chart, perform a song on “The Lego Movie” soundtrack, and collaborate with some of music’s biggest artists.

On Saturday, they’ll open for Katy Perry at the Tacoma Dome, a stop on the pop star’s The Prismatic World Tour.

Tegan and Sara have been together since 1980, the year the identical twin sisters were born in Calgary, Alberta.

Their career began in earnest in the early 2000s, and with each succeeding album they’ve garnered more exposure and critical praise. But it wasn’t until their 2013 album “Heartthrob” and its hit “Closer” that they really broke into the mainstream.

Since then it’s been a whirlwind. They’ve performed with Macklemore at the Osheaga Music Festival, and sang “Closer” with Taylor Swift in Los Angeles. In early 2014, “The Lego Movie” was released featuring Tegan and Sara performing the movie’s signature song, “Everything is Awesome.”

Now they’re about to embark on a tour with one of pop’s reigning superstars. The duo sang Perry’s “Roar” with her at The Hollywood Bowl in 2013.

“This tour came up afterwards and we jumped at it. Her audiences are awesome. There’s much more diversity in those audiences compared with some of the indie rock artists we’ve toured with,” Tegan said in a phone interview last week from Vancouver, B.C.

Like Swift and Lady Gaga, Tegan said, Perry runs her own shows. “They’re the ones calling the shots. They have to be to run empires like that.”

Though Tegan and her sister don’t aspire to be Perry, they look at the month-long tour with her as an educational opportunity.

“There’s always something to be learned. We do want to be more mainstream. It’s an opportunity to share our music with more people,” she said.

Though often labeled as indie rock, Tegan said they’ve always considered themselves indie pop. “We just weren’t producing them in a way that would be called pop.”

The sisters write music like the kind they would have listened to in the 1980s and 1990s. “We’re trying to create a hybrid between alternative indie rock and also pop music.”

In addition to busting music genres, they are breaking down social barriers. The two sisters have never tried to hide their sexual orientation — they’re both gay — and have incorporated that identity into their music projects.

“Early on in our career, we realized how significant us being out was going to be for other people,” Tegan said.

And they’re not afraid to play with gender roles.

“We push both sides pretty hard. We’ve played with androgyny in our photos. We’ve pushed a tomboy aesthetic while still trying to emulate all the female qualities that we benefit from pushing.”

The sisters have seen their role-model status in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community grow in the past few years. Although she knows she lives a life different from most people, Tegan hopes the sisters’ success can inspire people.

“It’s allowed us to create a lot of hope for young queer people but also for a lot of older queer people who can see the world is changing.”

They’ve never faced any pressure from the industry to tone down their identity.

“We’ve always managed our image about being gay. It’s a powerful statement to just get on stage with Taylor Swift.”

Working with your identical twin has both its pluses and minuses, Tegan said.

“I trust her implicitly. There are very few relationships in life where no matter what, this person has your back. We share a face. We share a family. We don’t even talk about most things. There’s an intuition and a trust that we have that no one else has. There’s a natural collaborative spirit between us.”

Tegan said she can’t separate her career from Sara’s, but she’s thought about it. A lot.

“The downside is that we’re sisters and most of the time I’m ping-ponging between feeling trapped in a band with her and dealing with her extreme agitation over her being trapped in a band with me.”

But, after 15 years of being professionally partnered, the twins have learned they can navigate through most of that.

“We definitely do not fight the way we did when we were teenagers. We are humbled by the fact that we are better together. I can’t find a better partner or better collaborator than Sara and I’m definitely better off with her. With establishing those parameters, I am able to get through the day without killing her.”

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