Tegan And Sara's Musical Literature
SheKnows Music caught up with Tegan Quin last week to chat about co-headlining SPIN.com's Liner Notes, the inaugural benefit event celebrating the cross-pollination of music and literature.
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T&S will never 'Call it Off'
SheKnows: Speaking of Call it Off, you are actually releasing a video for the song mid-September. It will be directed by Angela Kendall who also filmed the making of So Jealous and Speak Slowfor you. Can you tease our audiences on what to expect from this next video?
Tegan Quin: You know what's funny is that I love Angela Kendall. I think she's amazing and she is also a really good friend. I actually met her during the So Jealous era, as you just touched on. She filmed the making of that record and co-directed a few videos with me and helped put together It's Not Fun, Don't do It!, our full-length DVD...I love working on projects with her and I love the relationship we've grown into over the last couple of years. She was there living in a house with us while we made The Con and somehow she still likes us after spending all that time with us. When it came time to do this last video, I e-mailed her and although she doesn't really do music videos all that often, I thought it would be really cool if she would write a treatment. Call It Off was one of the first songs I wrote for The Conand it was one of her favorites. She sent back this simple idea which was a basic metaphor for what my relationship was like when I was writing the record; it was literally a long-distance phone relationship. (laughs) So the concept is me being tied up with phone cords. Actually wrapped, like suffocated, in phone cords. It's a beautiful video. I think people are really going to like it and I look forward to working with Angela again. She's really, really amazing, a great director, for sure.
SheKnows: Did she have any influence on you and Sara taping the Lost Forest Fones?
Tegan Quin: Yes. When we sat down to draw up a concept of what to do with The Con, we knew we didn't want to film ourselves just hanging out in the house because we didn't want that kind of behind the scenes stuff. (Angela) was kind of bummed about that, so she suggested we set up something in the basement to do interviews at the end of each day. We hated the idea because we didn't want to come back to the house and do cheesy, quintessential-type interviews at the end of each day. So, we brainstormed and thought that it would be funny, instead of doing a traditional interview; we would call people – like friends and family – and have them interview us. Then, Forest Fonewas born. We decided to literally build a set and do a call-in show every night. People would call us and talk about our lives and we would just tape it...Angela was a part of all this of course, but we were prompted to come up with the idea after she suggested the straight interviews and we flat-out rejected the idea. (laughs)
SheKnows:This all took place when you guys were all living together in Portland with Chris Walla and Jason Meger (Death Cab for Cutie), right? You were all collaborating on the new album along with Hunter Burgan (AFI) and Matt Sharp (The Rentals). Tell me what happened with the record from that point.
Tegan Quin: Yeah, we were all up there together. Over the last 15 years Sara and I have only physically sat down in front of each other and wrote a song together once. (laughs) There are probably hundreds of songs that we've written and all of them have been written separately. On this record we collaborated a lot more…Once we had completed the writing process we came up with an A, B and C list with Chris and sequenced the record and sent it to all the musicians who were going to be performing on the record...Hunter Burgan and I actually have a side project together, so we worked together in very collaborative ways many times before…Chris suggested Jason Meger, who drums for Death Cab for Cutie, as being a great contributor to the record and he was right. Jason was just one of the easiest musicians that I've ever worked with. He would go in and play about 25 different things and we would give him ideas on what parts we liked the most and he would glue them together. He would literally finish like 2 songs every day. He was just amazing, with no ego, no attitude and was 100 percent behind everything we liked and didn't like. I loved working with him. It was pretty much the same way with everyone else. We've worked with Matt Sharp before and he's amazing too. You can just pretty much leave him and be like, okay, see you in 20 minutes. We don't really record in a traditional sense. We don't just go in and lay drums and bass down and then record to everyone else, so it's a little easier. I don't know why more people don't do it that way. I guess because it moves a bit which means that it's not perfect, but we're not perfect so we kind of like it to be messy.
SheKnows:Before I let you off the hook, I wanted to ask about how you felt about having bands like The White Stripes and Alkaline Trio cover your work?
Tegan Quin:I love it actually. For years the only time I ever heard versions of our songs were when other bands like us, small, unknown bands covered our stuff and sent us MP3s. This was great, but it's totally different when you hear a really, really famous band like the White Stripes interpret your song…It was a very interesting process and it was really exciting for us. I'm a huge fan and I was very impressed...I also think it makes our music accessible to a broader demographic. Guys kind of dismiss our music because they think we are just a chic band. There is something very satisfying in having a male musician, who is seen as a virtuoso guitar player and writer, cover one of our songs. It is kind of like the ultimate high five. I dig that. Same with Alkaline Trio, they are a heavy band and the fact that they picked one of our songs, wanted to cover it, were so moved by it and were interested in interpreting it for themselves is awesome. It speaks volumes about the changes happening in music right now and also the shift in society in regard to male and female roles and relationships.
SheKnows:Hear that boys, no need to blush if you have Tegan and Sara on your IPod.
Tegan Quin:Right. I think it is really one of the coolest things that has happened over the last couple of years. I recorded a video with Against Me! this week and with the Alkaline Trio thing, the White Stripes and touring with all these dudes, now bands like the Killers are giving us major props. I think that our music is universal and I think more than ever before we have a huge male population in our audience. Most people think, oh it's just girls or lesbians that like us, but it's not really. That's not where we get most of our support. Most of the hard-core female magazines like Bust don't give us any support, they hate us. It's AP (Alternative Press Magazine) that are putting us on the cover, and there is a reason for that. We are connecting with that audience. We are connecting with that portion of society and that type of listener. That is really exciting for us because that is the kind of music we are listening to as well.
SheKnows: Cheers to that sentiment and best of luck to you girls. See you in New York.
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