Tegan and Sara was just one of the Canadian groups that appeared on The L Word. They appeared as themselves in the third season with “Love Type Thing” and also contributed “So Jealous” from their latest album with the same name.
In the article “Double Vision: Lesbian Rockers Tegan and Sara” written by Pam Huwig that was posted on lesbiannews.com (January 2001) there was a following comment made about Tegan and Sara.
“There are some musicians who are so incredibly in tune with the times that they practically define them – The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Nirvana, Sara MacLachlan – all of them tapped into something huge, something that stirred people through and through, and in the process they have permanently carved out their place in musical stone. Tegan and Sara are two names that will undoubtedly be found in that stone one day. They say they want to be recognized for their art, not their asses. While they're cute as they come, these two are all about their sound.”
Who are they?
Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Kiersten Quin are twin-sisters and Canadian singer-songwriters, otherwise known as Tegan and Sara.
From Sanctuary Records biography we learn that “Tegan and Sara were born in Calgary, Alberta, on Sept. 19, 1980, which makes them Virgos. Since making their first splash on the Canadian national scene in 1998, when they walked away with the highest score ever in Calgary’s ‘Garage Warz’ battle-of-the-bands, the Lilith Fair vets have toured extensively, sharing bills with artists as disparate as Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, and the Pretenders, in addition to countless headlining gigs.”
One interesting fact about the group that is explained in detail on mizzda.multiply.com website is that “originally, as when they were competing in Garage Warz, the duo was known as ‘Sara and Tegan.’ They decided to change their band’s name to ‘Tegan and Sara’ because ‘Tegan’ is a more unusual name and, they felt, ‘Sara’ was a common name among female artists. Early copies of their album Under Feet Like Ours were printed under the band name ‘Sara and Tegan’, and are now a sought-after commodity among their fans.”
Tegan and Sara’s originality in their personalities and music had drawn a lot of attention from the media and their loyal fans in the last couple of years.
As it so directly expressed on their official website teganandsara.com, “With Tegan and Sara you can never really be sure what is going to come out of their mouths. Their first word as babies was a four letter one according to family legend, and since then the only thing that’s changed is that now people pay to hear what they have to say.”
T&S on themselves
This statement is so true that when their fans read information that Tegan and Sara posted about themselves, it always full of surprises and unexpected turns. This is what the twins said about themselves in Bio's Are Hard To Write Because We Don't Want To Sound Geeky that can be found on their fan site at teganandsara.net.
“We are Tegan and Sara. And we never thought we were geeky. Our mother has always said that nothing is geeky about us. But she didn't think she was geeky when she went through that really bad early nineties stage with permed hair and tiger make-up. Plus, she was never summed up as a ‘Twin Teen Folk Act’ when she was really a pyrotechnic leopard-print-wearing eighties super mom … We started playing guitar when we were 15, and we called ourselves PLUNK. We were kind of wussy punk (no drums or bass) and we were really bad. Tegan still try's to constantly remake old PLUNK songs with titles like ‘jonny’ but I am trying to live in the NOW.”
It also mentioned on their official website that Sara is the one who writes their biographies and here’s another little snippet about themselves that we can find there. “Tegan’s childhood dreams included being a clown, working as a veterinarian with polar bears in the Arctic and being a rock star, of course. Sara wanted to be a lawyer and live in Boston strangely enough. Tegan is impossibly stubborn, while Sara is good-natured and loveable.”
T&S on their early career
During their first attempts at making music, according to the Timeline given by Tegan to their fan site, “Tegan and Sara recorded 11 songs in Sara’s bedroom on a two speaker gheto blaster. 3 copies in all were recorded and dubbed. While in High School, Tegan and Sara recorded Plunk – Who’s In Your Band (1997-1998), [the first Plunk tape is recorded at Cresent Hights [sic] High School in Calgary. 50-100 copies made] … Plunk – Play Day (1997-1998) [the second Plunk tape is recorded at Cresent in Calgary for a project in BroadCasting and Communication. 50-100 copies made.] … After Graduating, Tegan and Sara released three demo tapes [Yellow, Red and Orange demos], recorded as Sara and Tegan (1998).”
When two sisters were first performing on stage, as we can read on the Old Bio from one of their fan sites, they were not only singing but also “bickering” with each other by telling stories. “Two sisters, two guitars. On-stage banter about diarrhea, the ever-present possibility that friendly bickering may suddenly erupt into bloodshed, and rockin' pop songs that will blindside you as surely as a soccer Mom in an SUV yakking on her cell phone.”
Their somewhat unusual style of performing is also referred on mizzda website. “The twins tell comic stories on stage, a throwback to when they didn’t have a lot of material but still wanted to give people a full show. Their sisterly bickering is part of the show and endears them greatly to their fan.”
In Tegan and Sara article Tegan & Sara continue to hone their sister act
by Carolyn Lamberson to The Register-Guard (October 2005), duo also talks about the way they like to interact with the audience, before and now.
“We’re more accomplished and confident on stage. We tell stories about why we’re so weird … Now we've learned we can say `shut up’ … Oh yeah, about that whole ‘storytelling’ thing. Some critics have referred to it as ‘bickering’. But the chatting between songs is, one might say, part of their schtick [sic].” In the same interview Tegan added, “We use each other as a source of entertainment. We still get on each other’s nerves and point it out on stage. Only twice have we come off and actually fought … I think that’s part of being us. Sara and I directly engage each other so it brings the other one in. I think what we’re doing is really different.”
Now, as their band consists of two more members the things might have change but their “storytelling thing” remains the same. Just as Sara said it in the sanctuaryrecords article, “we’ll still rip each other apart … We’ve pretty much based our entire career on fighting in front of people. But it’s working for us, as sisters, as musicians, and as people.”
T&S on their work process
Both Tegan and Sara write and compose their songs but being twins not necessarily means that what they do is exactly the same. Another biography that can be found on sanctuaryrecords.com website, describes their approach to writing songs. “One of the big difference between the two sisters is their approach to their craft. ‘Tegan writes songs like a fish lays eggs,’ says Sara. ‘She comes up with three hundred of them, and some of them die, and others grow up. She’s so prolific that it totally freaks me out if she doesn’t tell me she wrote a new song every day, because then I think, ‘She must have written a really good one, and she’s holding on to it for her solo project.’ Sara, meanwhile, tends to work more methodically and meticulously. ‘She writes five songs a year, but they’re the five that automatically get on the record, without question,’ says Tegan. ‘There’s never any debate over Sara’s songs’.”
The same question, what is involved in their song writing process, was asked in the article Tegan and Sara: A Perfect Duo to Soulshine by Penny Hayward (January 2006) that can be found on their first fan site at teganandsara.org. Sara replied, “I write separately from Tegan. I sit on my bed, I take all of my recording equipment and I start recording guitar parts, looping hooks, singing vocal melodies, harmonies, stick clicks etc. then I eat food, and run back to my bed to listen to the song, I write lyrics, I go to bed. Over the next month I will change things slightly, then send mp3’s to Tegan and she will send feedback. Inspiration is everywhere!”
T&S on their audience and fans
As they began to attract bigger and more diverse audience, Tegan and Sara acquired their own fan base, which is not always something that they desire or expect. In the Net interview with Tegan and Sara (October, 2002), they were asked about their feelings towards their fans. Tegan’s answer was, “I really enjoy listening to them when we are at shows. I like meeting fans, knowing who is listening to you is very good for knowing how far you can go. We have a lot of young fans and so we are aware of our actions and how they could be perceived. We also like our privacy. I find a lot of the objectifying that happens really inappropriate and some of the things that people talk about on the chat lines and stuff is really lame. But I was young once too and cared about dumb things. Now that I am older I realize that one thing you never want taken away is your privacy.”
And this Sara’s answer to the same question, “I would make music even if I wasn’t in a band, but because Tegan and I are attempting to get ourselves out there and have people hear our songs, fans are extremely important. Sometimes their feedback can be more hurtful than a bad review. We like to stay after the shows and talk with everyone and sign stuff because we want to show our extra appreciation. Sometimes that is tough, but when we can do it we like to, just to show our care for the people who care for us. Occasionally an over excited, aggressive fan will freak us out, but primarily people treat us like we are buddies hanging out or are very polite and that makes us happy.”
In the later article Tegan and Sara - Do Not Touch! by Nick Coppack (first found on TimeOff.com.au – August 2003) Tegan said, “As long as they don’t touch me then I don’t get freaked out … When they get gropey [sic] and start pulling on us it can be pretty scary but it’s probably only about two per cent of our audience who are freaks. Otherwise, we’re really grateful that people like our music. After all, it’s our fans who have given us the opportunity to wear our pajamas until two in the afternoon!”
Sara expressed similar feelings about some of their fans in the article Nervous Breakthroughs by Natalie Nichols (2006), “When I look out into the audience now, and I see a 16-year-old girl in, like, a hoochie boob top singing along to every word, I think, ‘That is not who I’m aiming my music at,’ specifically … But on the other hand, something in our music is speaking to [her]. And if she can handle sitting through an hour of us talking about our cats and our mom, and then playing songs and screwing them up and calling each other names and whatever … then maybe she isn’t that different than our staple audience.”
T&S on their sexuality
Both sisters are lesbians and the questions about their sexuality are coming in the interviews and articles quite often. As sisters stated on numerous occasions, those questions are under category of annoying. In the article
Tegan and Sara - Do Not Touch! (2003) both sisters explained that this question is getting annoying because it seems that this is more important to the media than their music.
“It’s so cliché and unoriginal, focusing on the twin thing, or the sexuality or that we’re girls or we’re young … Yes, those are things that are part of us and they make up who we are and how we write music and how our audience responds to us or relates to us, but in the end the record either sucks or it doesn’t and I’d rather people focus on that … Especially when it comes to sexuality it can be a bit frustrating. We’re not out there to stomp on or carry a flag for anyone – we’re 22 years old and who knows what tomorrow holds? I don’t want to be remembered for anything except for my music and I think that’s the most important part.”
It doesn’t mean that they avoid answering those kind of questions or that they are not proud who they are. In the article Double Vision: Lesbian Rockers Tegan and Sara by Pam Huwig (2001) the sisters said, “The sexuality thing is such a big issue for us because we’re proud of who we are, but at the same time, again, we want people to like us for our music. Who we’re dating, who we’re with is that is relevant to our music? Does it matter? … We love being strong lesbian women and love the fact that women are encouraged by our music.”
It also mentioned in the article Tegan and Sara Reinventing Queer Stereotypes in Rock Music by Albert Rodriguez from Windy City Times (June, 2005) that sometimes Tegan and Sara have to defend their sexuality. Sara was speaking about that issue, “I remember being in New York and we were in Time Out magazine, on the cover of the entertainment section … There was some mention of our sexuality and one of the guys from the (record) company was really irritated. He was like ‘We want to break you into a different market. We want to show that you’re not just a band that would appeal to those people.’ And I was like ‘Don’t talk about it like it’s so bad. Don’t forget I’m one of those people you’re talking about … I know how I was born and I know that I have no choice. I know it may not show on the color of my skin, but I know it’s in my heart and in my soul.”
T&S on being twins
Another question that falls into ‘annoying’ category is about being twins and a special connection between them in life and on stage because it as well takes them away from talking about their music.
In the article Double Vision: Lesbian Rockers Tegan and Sara (2001) Sara talked about it, “Everyone’s always asking you about being a twin and being a twin in the music industry … But it’s one of those questions where you’re like, being like, yeah, you’re right, we’re sisters, we fight, yeah, we bicker, it’s not really that interesting. But the thing we never get asked is, you know, I think being a twin is creepy.” Tegan also said, “My life would never be complete or the same without Sara in it, I would feel like I wasn’t a whole person, and in a way that’s a horrible thing to live with. You’re constantly battling for your independence.”
T&S on their last album
From the biography So Jealous that can be found on their official website, we can read some inside information about Tegan and Sara latest album, So Jealous. “Produced by Tegan and Sara along with John Collins, David Carswell and Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers), So Jealous was recorded in Vancouver, Canada. The band is happy to report that no one cried during the recording process, except of course Sara (identity crisis on the second day of mixing) and Tegan (she cries whenever Sara starts crying).”
As the bio continues, we also learned that when Tegan and Sara finished writing and recording demos for this album, they ended up with 26 songs and “recruited drummer Rob Chursinoff and bassist Chris Carlson for album rehearsals at Vancouver's legendary Renegade Studios.”
Tegan and Sara themselves had a lot to say about their latest album. In one of their old biographical sketches, found on their fan site, Sara gave the following description, “There’s definitely more punch to this album.” Tegan added, “I wanted to be more powerful and pretentious and in-your-face this time around … We held back a little last time, because that’s where women are supposed to go in the music business: Just be shy, sexy, singer-songwriters. And we are all of those things, but we’re also obnoxious and sarcastic, and intelligent, and, at times, downright overbearing.”
So Jealous received several nominations and praises. According to Tegan & Sara continue to hone their sister act (2005), “If 2002’s If It Was You got the group some attention, So Jealous made folks take notice. Top of Form
Rolling Stone called So Jealous a ‘taut little New Wave snack’. Entertainment Weekly called the band ‘a precocious punky pop act with a knack for writing brisk love songs and vivisecting ex-lovers with a few tart phrases’.”
So, when it comes down to describing Tegan and Sara’s music in just a few words, Pam Huwig (Double Vision: Lesbian Rockers Tegan and Sara – 2001) had done it perfectly when she wrote, “How to describe their music? I have no idea how to label it because I haven’t heard anything quite like it. The closest I can come to defining it is as musical orgasm – everything about their sound and energy is intensity at its finest.”