Tegan and Sara Feel Like "Camp Counselors at Our Concerts"
Tegan and Sara are the most unlikely pop stars on the planet.
The twin sisters from Calgary were picked up by Neil Young's record label right out of high school. In the mid-'00s, they found critical success with great oddball singles like "Walking With a Ghost" and "Back in Your Head." Then last year, they blew up on mainstream radio when their seventh album, Heartthrob, debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart, making them an overnight-success story 15 years in the making.
Now, about to embark on another tour, Sara Quin spoke with New Times about embracing new audiences, handling society's fascination with twins, and currently being every 8-year-old kid's favorite singer, even if he or she doesn't know it.
New Times: A few months ago during your concert at Art Basel Miami Beach, you and your sister made comments about being genuinely grateful for your success. Did you ever imagine this level of commercial recognition?
Sara Quin: When we started out as teenagers, we were excited just to play shows and make records. It was a very shortsighted career. We never projected the career we have now. I don't know if it was possible to imagine it. It humbles me. I turn 33 this year, and I never thought this was where we would end up.
It's happened in very wonderful segments. There was part of our career where we were just a traveling, touring, underground indie-rock band, and that was very satisfying. It's been satisfying and challenging to cross over to a mainstream career. It's kept us fresher and made us stronger musicians and personalities. I love it, but I don't know if I ever imagined it...
The truth is, this is dating myself, but I graduated high school in 1997. There was no internet. I liked music so much, but I had no idea how the industry worked. We had the tenacity and ambition, but we didn't know how to direct it. It was, "Let's play shows and record a demo tape and go from there." It wasn't until we put out So Jealous in 2004 that I remember sitting down and asking what most people at 25 ask post-college: What do we want to do with our career? Not just surviving, but what do we want to achieve?
So you never thought you'd have a song in a cartoon, as you do with "Everything Is Awesome" in The Lego Movie.
[laughs] It's been very cool, this whole Lego thing. We knew it would be a popular movie; we just didn't know the song would be so popular. The song was already written. They already had portions of the movie done where we saw the song was going to be used.
They wanted something different at the end, and they wanted a human band to do it, and we thought it was a cool opportunity. Mark Mothersbaugh [of Devo] was doing the soundtrack, and we're big fans of his, and we thought the movie was so clever and funny.