The Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara Quinn are known for their quirky banter on stage, their unpolished language and totally relatable lyrics. The twin sisters have been performing together since the mid 1990s, releasing eight studio albums and garnering a loyal fan base from hits like “If It Was You,” “So Jealous” and “Closer.”
Tegan and Sara have never been ones to “follow the rules,” citing themselves as somewhat disruptive in the music community. As a response to their commercial success from their 2004 So Jealous album, Tegan says the duo released their 2007 album, The Con. “It was like the anti-establishment record. It’s a very rebellious record in my opinion. We break all musical theory rules and kind of exploded the template,” she says. “It’s kind of glorious to listen to it all,” she adds of the iconic album.
The Con offered an emotional soundtrack to the sister’s lives during a time when they were reconciling with the death of their Grandmother and mending relationship wounds. Tegan explains that between the two of them, they were experiencing their first really big loss that most people do in their 20s. “I think there is a naivety and a vulnerability to the record and 11 years later, it pretty much holds up,” she says. The dark subjects of loss, anxiety, death and fear in life are threaded through the album and Tegan happily admits that this is a reality society may not want to accept, but her and Sara do. “You can’t have that tremendous thrill of love and that heart-pumping excitement without fear that it will someday not last.”
In celebration of The Con’s 10th anniversary, Tegan and Sara have again, disrupted any remnants of a musical template. With the release of The Con X: The Covers, the pair enlisted artists like Bleachers, Ryan Adams and CHVRCHES to cover all 14 songs from the original 2007 album. These artists were chosen specifically for their talents but also their support of the LGBTQ community. Proceeds from the album and the anniversary tour with benefit the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women. “We wanted to engineer as much diversity as possible but also feature as many women as possible,” Tegan says. She excitedly tells me how securing LGBTQ allies and high-profile artists like Cyndi Lauper, Hayley Williams from Paramore and Sara Bareilles was deliberate but they really wanted to offer an opportunity for developing bands like MUNA, Shura and Mykki Blanco to be seen.
With each song from The Con being reinvented, Tegan says it’s offered a whole new experience for herself and Sara. “I’m a fan of our band but specifically, I’m a fan of Sara,” she says of her sister. “When I’m performing songs she’s written, I’m like the people in the audience. I’m inserting my own feelings and emotions into the music and finding my own meaning in it.” She adds that their The Con X: Tour will feature the songs performed front-to-back with all new arrangements in a first-ever stripped back manner, yet another way Tegan and Sara are breaking the mold.
Main image credit: Lindsay Byrnes