It was 1995 when twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin made the (very lucky for us) decision to start making music together.
Writing their own songs and both playing guitar and keyboards, Tegan and Sara gained a loyal following over the years but their seventh studio album, Heartthrob, which was released in January, was the one that completely blew everyone’s minds and solidified this indie rock duo as a household name.
Debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, Heartthrob was certified Gold in Canada and shortlisted for the prestigious 2013 Polaris Music Prize.
Congrats on the Polaris Prize nom! Did you have an inkling this album was going to be something special when you were first writing and recording it?
I did and I don’t think you can always know that, we could have easily made a shitty record [laughs] but I had this really strong feeling, which was a relief because when we finished touring our last record, I didn’t know what to do. I really felt, for the first time in our career, that I didn’t wanna write, I wanted to take time off and I kept on thinking, ‘What do we do now?’ I felt like we sort of hit some kind of ceiling.
So we took a year off and then started to write songs again and right away I was like, 'This is gonna be good!' I would sit down with producers or musicians that we were gonna work on the record with and I can remember hubris seeping in a little bit where I was like, 'This sounds amazing!' I felt very confident about the material and I was like, 'These songs are great, this is gonna be such a fun record.'
I’m so seriously pleased that people like it; we’re people pleasers, we’ve never cared about critics or anything like that.
When you're not touring you split your time between Montreal and New York - where's home?
I always have this joke that home is where most of my stuff is, so right now it’s the road. But I keep a place in Montreal and I’ve written our last three records in Montreal, in the same apartment - I love it. I have a strong sentimental nostalgia about Montreal; it’s so good to me. But maybe my home is just where my mom and Tegan are, so, in a weird way, it sort of doesn’t matter what city I’m in.
What, in your eyes, sets Montreal apart from other major cities, like New York or Los Angeles?
I think it’s a wonderful place to be creative and to be present. It’s not too fast so you’re not caught up in that whirlwind of New York and it's not too slow that you’re bored. It’s a really creatively stimulating place for me. In a weird way, not understanding French, not having a good comprehension at all, actually, has made me find some solace here, I can completely tune out. To keep a low profile in Montreal is my dream.
So it’s good then that I didn’t come up to you that time I spotted you on the metro…
No, I like it when people come up and talk to me! I like when people are like, ‘Hi, where are you going?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m going over here’ and that’s another reason I like Montreal, people are so casual. They’re not like, ‘OH MY GOD, I can’t believe you’re here!’
You and Tegan always look so great – can you tell me a bit about your style choices?
I’ve always loved clothes, but I think I really hit a stride in 2006 or 2007. I finally figured out that I needed to buy a certain type of clothes or a certain type of brand. I started to realize I have a sort of androgynous feel to me, so finding designers like ACNE and A.P.C. and anything that sort of has a structured, oversized feel, but is meant for a smaller person. I just devoured all of these clothes and I became much more confident.
What’s the last thing you bought that you’re absolutely obsessed with?
I found a pair of lime green suede designer sneakers from Miu Miu and I’ve never spent that kind of money on a pair of shoes before and I felt like Sex and the City where they buy the crazy shoes, except mine were sneakers and I was like, 'This is ridiculous!' [laughs]
I couldn’t help it, I was in love with them. And now I’ve fallen into the rabbit hole of other designer sneakers - God! There’s a couple that I’m really coveting right now, but I’m holding back!