Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara on Redefining Pop Music
"I don’t know if I could ever expose myself [again] the way I did back then. I am more protective now."
Interesting fact: It turns out that, much like siblings who aren’t also band members, Tegan and Sara do spend time apart. Since we didn’t want Tegan to feel left out after our interview with sister and bandmate Sara Quin (and in honour of the Con X tour kicking off), we sent her some follow-up questions, which she generously answered.
Pop music seems to be getting more respect these days. I think Tegan and Sara has both benefited from this critical reappraisal of the genre and encouraged it. Your thoughts?
“When we sat down to work on what would become Heartthrob, I think we saw a shift happening in popular music toward hybrid pop/R&B/electronic and, lyrically, things just seemed more dense, deep and intimate. That inspired us to try to reach the mainstream and refine our production a little bit. Truthfully, we always saw ourselves as writing ‘pop’ songs, but our earlier production skewed more alternative. Heartthrob was definitely an attempt to capture the new pop sound and reach more people.”
Since Heartthrob, you’ve mentioned how you had to work on your stage presence because you aren’t behind guitars as often. What have you learned?
“It was a great challenge, after nearly 15 years, to have to try something new. Similarly, it was a relief at certain points in the set to go back to hiding. I think the balance of projecting and performing and hiding is what creates a meaningful show for myself and the audience. I still tinker with the ratio—I just recently added the guitar back in for two songs because I felt it would create more emotion in the set. And it worked. I think we will always be working on the balance.”
What was the last song that surprised you or made you cry when you didn’t expect it to?
“I can’t recall the last time music made me cry. Don’t call me cynical, but I think I’ve been having a hard time connecting to music lately. Mostly, I’ve been listening to music that is upbeat or just listening to production. I did cry listening to the Nancy podcast, though, so I am still capable of tears.”
It’s the 10th anniversary of The Con. Do the songs still connect with you, or do you feel more separate from them?
“I still feel very connected to The Con—more than other records of ours from the past. I feel that way about Heartthrob, too. Often, when we have taken the biggest risks musically, I end up feeling very attached. It’s easy for me to play any songs from The Con because they still resonate. I don’t know if I could ever expose myself [again] the way I did back then. I am more protective now. But I am glad the record exists. It’s a nightly reminder to remain present in the most human of emotions.”