With more than a decade of touring and recording under their belts, sisters Tegan and Sara have leaped into a different realm with their latest album, “Heartthrob.”
The pair has truly transformed from indie musicians to pop rockers. This transformation will be on display July 17 at the Chatham Capitol Theatre.
We caught up with one half of the duo, Sara Quin, who says this transformation was a good challenge for them musically.
“I think we both took stock of what we’d accomplished in our career, and one area we had not really focused on was radio,” Sara said. “We had had an accidental hit with ‘Walking With A Ghost’ in 2004 and it had truly helped grow our project outside of the cult status we’d experienced to date.”
Sara said Tegan and herself noticed a new, upbeat sound being aired on radio waves when preparing to record “Heartthrob.”
“When we started having conversations about this album, we both agreed that radio had broadened to accept so many exciting bands (Fun, Florence and the Machine, Passion Pit) and we felt it was time for us to set our sights on that medium,” she said. “It was a way to challenge ourselves but also to challenge radio.”
Sara added: “As women, and as gay people, we don’t see a lot of ourselves represented on the charts, so it was exciting for us to think we might crack into that world doing what we do.”
With the evolution in their sound, Tegan and Sara can incorporate a range of sounds and tempos with their live performances. This will be no different when the sister duo entertains the Chatham crowd.
“We love to please,” Sara said. “So there is a good mix of both old and new material.”
Sara said they are put to the test when it comes to preparing a set list on any given night.
“It’s a challenge for us to create a set that is cohesive and dynamic and I think the past eight months have allowed us to curate a terrific show of fan favourites and new muscular additions from Heartthrob.”
The sisters have not only been very open about being gay, but they have never shied away from speaking about it as well.
With the countless stories in the news about bullying and teen suicide, Sara said she encourages young girls and teenagers to be “themselves,” but admits it can take some time.
“I think that it’s a long process to accept yourself,” she said. “The world is a very heterosexual place and even with the support of family and friends, I still struggle sometimes to feel normal.”
Sara said feeling acceptance is what everyone wants – gay or straight.
“There are lots of days where being in the minority feels empowering and special, but we all want to feel accepted and those are the days where we have to find comfort and support from friends and family,” she said.
Being outspoken about their sexuality, helped her out in the long run.
“I like that Tegan and I have been outspoken and confident because in a way on the days where I don’t feel that way, I feel the residual encouragement and energy of the audience and their acceptance of us,” she said. “Getting involved in the community and being an activist helped me a lot. I’m taking all of that energy and doing something with it.”
And she’s doing it while wrapping herself in the maple leaf.
“I always felt proud to be from Canada and we experienced a great deal of support from the Arts Council and Government funding,” Sara said. “So we started our career with a lot of assistance and support which gave us that extra little push we needed in the beginning.”
Sara added with the Internet and social media becoming so popular these days, an artist’s country of origin doesn’t matter.
“With the Internet being what it is now, I feel there is less nationality attached to what we do as musicians,” she said. “In the past, being from Canada would have been a bigger deal, but now its much more common for international acts to tour different countries etc.”
Sara says she expects continued success for Canadian musicians moving forward into the future.
“Canada has always been a great country to make music in and I expect the scene will continue to grow and thrive,” she said.
As for working with her sibling, the bond that these sisters have is truly special.
But as most sisters or parent of daughters would agree, it isn’t always sunshine and buttercups.
“Tegan and I used to focus on how complex and at times difficult our relationship was,” Sara said. “But we’ve tried to flip that on its head in recent years.”
Sara said they work together on every issue and that has been the key to their success.
“We celebrate our independence and nurture our differences and in a way I’ve become increasingly proud of our ability to work through our conflicts and enjoy success as a duo for so many years,” she said.
• Check out SWOMP, located at www.swomp.ca for details on the upcoming Tegan and Sara concert at the Capitol Theatre.