Live & Direct With Tegan and Sara

 
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Tegan and Sara were in the WYEP studios on November 5th, 2016 to talk about their new album, Love You To Death. LYTD is the 8th LP from the Canadian band fronted by identical twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quinn. The album was produced in full by Greg Kurstin, who is known for not working on whole albums. Tegan explained how that came to be, “When we were working on our last album Heartthrob we had written a big whack of songs and met with 17 producers. The first one I met was Greg. I just really liked him: he was funny and quirky and had worked with a lot of big pop stars. He was also a really great musician who had worked in a lot of great, creditable bands. He was working on the new Shins record when I met him. He was this perfect balance of pop sensibility but also this sort of “indie” world where we lived. It started with 4 songs, then 8 songs. Then he just wanted to do the whole record this time around. We’re in like a weird monogamous relationship with him now! We just really like him and he seems to get us and we’re kind of old school. This was our 8th record and we like making records. The idea of making songs with a bunch of different people didn’t really appeal to us.”

According to the twins, this is first album where, to their knowledge, there's no guitars, which had been the core of their sound for many years. “The guitars used to be the driving sound of the music. Now they’re sort of more of a texture. We didn’t see the point in continuing to make music that we weren’t really listening to. We started writing songs in 1995; the music we listened to had a lot of guitars. As we’ve gotten older and our tastes have changed and developed a lot of the production and the musical ingredients have changed and morphed,” says Sara. Tegan added, “Guitar was the instrument we used to write songs with. I’m actually a really bad guitar player! I play guitar on five songs in the set and I screw up every single night on at least two of those songs. It’s hard to sing and emote and be in charge and command an audience. As the years go by, 17 to be exact, I’ve started to accept that I use the piano and the guitar to write songs. Once I get on stage, I become the instrument. Taking away the guitar has made us better singers and better performers. I think people should be glad we put the guitars down.”

Sara added, “Tegan and I felt like we needed to both play instruments and sing because in the sexist world we live in, the idea of a woman singing it seems like… ‘She just sings. She just writes everything and plays all the instruments in the studio and just sings, but that’s not that hard!’ We felt like we had to be like a one man band: I’m on stage and playing guitar and I’m playing keyboard… we’ve seen the younger generation not care. I’ve seen amazing creditable artists get on stage with an iPad and press play and be like ‘WHAAATS UP!!’. That has freed us up to be experimental with what our show feels and looks like.”

The album also, for the first time, addresses the relationship between the sisters. Says Sara, “I didn’t have an opportunity to go out on my own, go to school and get a job. We basically started our career in the 12th grade. We were already doing shows and travelling. I felt like I needed to get out and do my own thing. Of course, I felt lucky to have a career. Those songs are really about me figuring out my identity and less about the relationship. It was about the struggle to be an autonomous adult and have a career with someone who I’m related to. It’s interesting to me now at 36 years old to be processing something that I felt when I was 20. I have the language and the understanding about myself to do that in a way that’s interesting to other people.”

As for the album title, Sara explains its origin, “I wrote a couple songs on this record that didn’t make it, but they all had the same theme as another song called “Be With You” (“BWU”) that did make it. They were all songs about how much I don’t believe in marriage. And I say that personally. On a political level, I think the marriage equality movement for LGBTQ people was deeply important. In order for everyone to have the same choices and rights, you need to all have access to the same institution, even if I don’t personally like the institution. Anyways, I was looking for a way to make that into a pop song, which was not that easy! I took a couple swings at it and “Love You To Death” was from one of those songs. It was a play on ‘til Death Do us Part’. When we were trying to come with a title, Tegan and I were talking about all these themes. Sibling relationships, romantic relationships, self-identity... the idea of this unbroken chain and that you’re gonna love them so much. It’s kind of like a hyperbolic statement like “I LOVE YOU TO DEATH”. All these ideas kept circling and we just lifted the phrase from another song. It took months! It’s really stressful [naming an album]! Even that 90 seconds talking about it… I got PTSD and went back to that place where I thought we should name it ‘Album #8 (Does Anyone Even Care?)’”

Tegan & Sara also talked about what it’s been like to be openly queer for their entire career, the interesting role Neil Young has played in their lives and, of course, “Everything is Awesome”. Since Tegan and Sara recorded the massively successful theme song from “The Lego Movie”, they haven’t actually noticed an influx in young kids in their audience. “But definitely their parents,” says Tegan. “There was like a wave of people who started coming up to us and telling us, ‘Oh my god! My kids love you and we can bond over you, but that song drives us crazy!’ and we’re like ‘We get you!’” They knew the song was going to be big, but they had no idea what opportunities it would bring, “I never would have imagined performing at The Oscars, did not think I would ever made eye contact with Oprah, but I did!”

Setlist: 

- 100x

- Stop Desire

- Closer

- Boyfriend

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