Tegan and Sara are moving in new directions this year and taking big risks with new material. Venturing into ‘80s electro-synth, the openly lesbian twin sisters from Canada pull no punches with their latest album, Heartthrob. The indie-darlings are known for perfect harmonies as one takes few breaths to slow her breakneck assault as the other takes the softer, more melodic approach. The seesaw vocals take the leading role on this album which adds techno beats to urban folk.
The duo will be performing with pop-rock fave, fun., at Saltair on Aug. 23. Tickets will sell out quickly and are available at smithstix.com. We caught up with the lesbian fashion, culture and singing icons to chat about their new album, their inspiration and their memories of Utah.
Your latest album, Heartthrob, is different from most of your earlier works. Do you see it as a departure from previous style, or an evolution?
With each album we strive to create a stand-alone work that pushes both our songwriting and sound forward. With this album it was our goal to try and write the best songs of our career, while also matching the compositions with exciting, modern, ambitious production that would allow access to more people musically than ever before.
Do you think you took a risk moving your music in a different direction?
We feel as though we’ve shifted seamlessly between genres most of our career. One of our greatest successes to date was our electronic collaboration with Tiesto. So we felt comfortable and confident that our audience would accept this record as much as any other we’ve put out.
Who does the writing? Is it a joint effort or does one person take the leading role?
We both write independently. Often we’ll collaborate on each other’s songs once much of the writing is done. For example, “I WAS A FOOL” was nearly completed but needed an eight-measure bridge both melodically and lyrically that was added on after the fact. That independent writing has allowed us to really see our own artistic vision represented while also enhancing and strengthening each other’s songs.
You’re about to embark on a tour with superstar band fun. and we can’t wait to see you here in Utah. You’ve been here before. What do you remember most about your visits?
We’re really looking forward to the tour! We absolutely love Utah and have wonderful memories of performing there over the years. We find the audiences to be genuinely excited and focused on the musical performances and that is very rewarding for us.
Will we get to hear some of your older songs at the show, or will you mainly focus on Heartthrob?
We often play upwards of 25 songs, performing the entire new album plus 15 of the classics off our previous six albums. On shorter sets we’ll do a mix of our most popular songs and a few new ones to keep it interesting. It’s a great show!
You’re been public about your sexuality. How do you think it has affected your careers? How do you think your careers would be different if you had been closeted?
We think that being gay has meant that we have faced homophobia in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes it’s subconscious, or a result of institutionalized ideas about gender roles or lesbian stereotypes. It’s been our goal to both be ourselves and be proud, but also to demolish any preconceptions people have about gay people and music that is made by people who are gay. We see ourselves as a pop band that makes music for anyone and everyone, but also as pop musicians who are gay and believe in being visible. We would never have been closeted, so it’s impossible for me to imagine a life like that.
We live in a very conservative state where LGBT people are often treated unfairly. Do you have any advice for your young fans who have been bullied or mistreated? Perhaps an “It Gets Better” moment for Utah teens?
It’s important for straight people and queer people with power to be allies to those who are not safe or comfortable being visible in their communities. To those who suffer from bullying or social pressure to stay closeted, we can only say that the world is a big place and there are millions of people who love, cherish and support the gay community. Take strength from their strength.
Do you have any guilty pleasure music? Maybe an old Hilary Duff CD stuffed away in your bag somewhere?
No music is a guilty pleasure! If you love it, be proud!
If you could record a song with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Patsy Cline. Loved her voice and it would have made grandma very happy!