News Column

State welcomes Tegan and Sara

July 25, 2013

YellowBrix

July 25--Tegan and Sara Quin are identical twins who sing beautifully together and have been a successful recording duo for more than a dozen years.

But until their most recent album, "Heartthrob," the Canadian performers had rarely recorded songs that they wrote together. Tegan would start one, get some input from her sister, then finish it off. And Sara would do the same thing.

Is it possible that all those ideas about twins being so in sync with each other, finishing each other's sentences, aren't true? Is that why they never wrote together?

"Well, we did write together a lot for other people's albums, just not our own. Part of that has been distance," said Tegan, 32, who splits her time between Vancouver and Los Angeles, while her sister lives in both Montreal and New York. "We just felt like it was time for us to combine our superpowers.

"People say, 'Oh, you're so in sync,' and 'You read each other's minds,' but we have no other siblings to compare it to."

Tegan and Sara will bring their musical "superpowers" to Portland for a show on Saturday at the State Theatre. The pair are in the middle of a summer tour with pop hit-makers fun., and were recently announced as finalists for the prestigious Canadian music critic's award, The Polaris Prize.

Meanwhile, "Heartthrob" is still selling strong after debuting at No. 3 in January and selling 49,000 copies its first week -- far surpassing the success of the duo's previous album, "Sainthood," which hit No. 21 in 2009.

Some critics have called "Heartthrob" a fairly obvious attempt by the sisters to sound more like a mainstream pop group and less like a cutting-edge indie band. Country star-turned-pop superstar Taylor Swift recently said in an interview that "There isn't a song on ('Heartthrob') I don't love."

While some of Tegan and Sara's past songs have rough vocals and fuzzy-sounding guitars, the new album features danceable tunes such as "Closer" and pop ballads such as "I Was a Fool."

"Closer" was featured on the taste-making Fox TV show "Glee," pushing it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart. The song has been re-mixed by at least six artists so far, including The Knocks and Yeasayer.

Tegan said both she and her sister are flattered by DJs who want to remix their music, and they welcome the chance for their songs to reach different audiences.

"It's very exciting to us to get these requests; it seems like electronic music is turning up in every genre. I love it," said Tegan. "I guess it's just a funny extra perk of being an artist these days that people want to remix your songs."

The Quins grew up in Calgary, Alberta, in western Canada, and began playing guitar and writing songs as teens. In 1997, they recorded an album using equipment from their high school, then won a Calgary battle of the bands competition.

They released their first independent album in 1999 under the name "Sara and Tegan," but reversed the names after deciding "Tegan and Sara" was easier to say. Their big break came when they were signed to Vapor Records, the label of fellow Canadian Neil Young, in 2000.

So even though the Quin sisters are only in their early 30s, Tegan feels as if she and her sister have been working at music a long time.

Really, their whole lives.

"I think there really is a natural gift that comes from making music with a sibling," said Tegan.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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(c)2013 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)

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