Tegan and Sara played last nite’s opening at the annual Winnipeg Folk Fest
Photos by Lindsey Byrnes
In October 2009, Tegan and Sara released their triumphant sixth record, Sainthood. Produced by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla, the album was named among the best of 2009 by music journalists and bloggers all over the continent, shortlisted for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for a Juno Award.
It also kept the indie-pop duo on the road for the better part of a year.
Now, Tegan Quin and twin sister Sara are taking some time “off” to recharge, write some new songs and hit the Canadian folk festival circuit. Uptown called up Tegan at her home in Vancouver to discuss what she and her sister have up their sleeves for their headlining set at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, plans for the upcoming Tegan and Sara record and Sara’s now-famous open letter to Tyler, The Creator.
Uptown: I hear you’re on a well-deserved break from the road. How are you spending your time off?
Tegan Quin: We’re doing a bit of writing and we’ve both been working with other artists as well. We’ve been “off” but I use that term lightly. Most recently we did some writing with (DJ) Morgan Page — we did two songs on his record. People who liked Feel It In My Bones, the Tiesto track we did, will like these songs. Any time someone approaches us with dance music, we say ‘Yes, please.’
With respect to the next Tegan and Sara record, are you and Sara going to try writing it collaboratively à la Sainthood or are you going to write individually?
I think we’re going to both. We’ve planned a few writing trips. Writing is such an individual thing to do, but it still feels collaborative. What we learned from Sainthood is that the songs we write are Tegan and Sara songs — there’s so much collaboration that happens.
Excited to be coming back to the Winnipeg Folk Festival? What can we expect from your set?
Yes! Summers are so busy — and there’s always pressure to play the festivals in Europe. But we love folk festivals; the music is so interesting and the crowds are so great. I think we’re going to do stripped-down versions of our songs. I’m nervous! It’s been six months since we’ve played anything from Sainthood.
It must be creatively stimulating to take apart and rebuild those songs.
Oh yeah, absolutely. I’ve been playing them here at home and I have so many ideas about how to approach them. Tegan and Sara has many different sides and it’s fun playing with that. You can take any of our songs and strip them down to the core. I think Sainthood has strong songs on it. They’re very different, but the heart and souls is still there.
Last September, you digitally released Tegan and Sara: The Complete Recollection 1999-2010 — a comprehensive package that includes all your albums, all 13 of your music videos and two documentaries. Looking back, did you ever think Tegan and Sara would have the career that is does?
You know, no. When we started playing and made our first record, we thought that was success because we were out there, doing it. Those parameters (of success) are still the same, but I’m impressed that we’ve been able to do it so long. I do want to have a voice and speak — I didn’t put that together when I was younger. That’s changed over the last decade for sure. Now I realize I need to take it seriously and be there. But it was never supposed to be what it is now; I always kind of thought we’d kill a few years and go back to school.
Speaking of using your voice, I wanted to get your take on Sara’s open letter to Tyler, The Creator. (Posted on Tegan and Sara’s website in May, the letter was titled Call for Change and asked an important question: “When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry?” It pointed to Tyler, The Creator’s latest album, Goblin, as an example; despite being full of hateful lyrics and rape fantasies, the record was showered with critical acclaim by dozens of respected music publications.)
I was 100% behind it. Sara was very, very, very articulate in her reasoning. I think it was awesome and brave she did it. The response was great — from other hip hop artists to pundits to journalists. We decided not to speak to the media at that time; she had a clear point and besides, I think people were looking for the headline to create some sort of feud between Tyler and Sara. Tyler can make records and tour — but he shouldn’t be supported by people whose mandate is not homophobia, is not hurting women and is not killing gay people. There’s no debate. Change is slow — but people need to be brave and stand up.
July 7, 11 p.m., Winnipeg Folk Festival Mainstage (Birds Hill Park)[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]