Tegan and Sara with Augusten Burroughs and SheKnows
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.
Presented by Spin Magazine and the SPIN.com Book Club at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe on Thursday, September 4th, the event raised over $8,000 in proceeds for Housing Works, a New York-based non-profit organization. Housing Works provides housing, healthcare, job training and advocacy for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. As an activist organization, (Housing Works) is committed to implementing the systemic changes necessary to ensure that AIDS and public health policies are sound in concept and equitable in administration.
Take a look at what the singer/songwriter had to say about pairing up with Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors) and how music and literature coincide in her new album, The Con.
Tegan and Burroughs in the boroughs
SheKnows: Let's talk a bit about your upcoming adventure with Augusten Burroughs in New York. You were invited, not only to co-headline the event, but also to pen a song for the audio edition of Augusten's latest book, A Wolf at the Table. Tell me how you feel about this exciting venture?
Tegan Quin: I was so stoked when I got the e-mail. It was just after the New Year and I had gotten an e-mail from my management forwarded from (Augusten's) publisher basically saying that Augusten had picked a few artists that he was interested in having write for his book…I was just like, throwing-myself-down-on-the-floor kind of excited; had all of his books, huge fan. So I agreed to it almost immediately...When I finished reading (A Wolf at the Table) I sat down to write a song and thought, well this can't be that hard, I've been doing it for 15 years and almost immediately hit a block and realized, I'm a narcissist. How do I write about someone other than myself? Oh my god, I was paralyzed. So I read the book a second time and started writing a letter to Augusten with some questions about him and his life and the book. In the process I found lyrics within the letter and started to write a song.
Tegan Quin: (laughs) Yeah, I was super stoked. It was really fun and for me personally, it was probably one of the more satisfying and gratifying things I've ever done in my life. I joke about being a narcissist, but I really am in a way. I've realized after 15 years of writing and 5 records later, I've really only written about myself and my relationships, so this was a really good exercise. I moved a lot of muscles that I haven't really moved, like ever… (SPIN.com book club) had launched and a couple of the people that I know through the book club came out and asked if I would be interested in doing this benefit for Housing Works and hinted at the fact that I would be able to pick an author to co-headline with. The first author that popped into my head was also the first author that popped into their head. They said, "We were thinking of Augusten Burroughs" and I was like, "I would love to do it with Augusten" and they said, "do you know how to get a hold of him?" So, I got in touch with Augusten, he said he was in and here we are.
SK: Pretty safe to say you are excited about the pairing?
Tegan Quin:I am very excited to get to New York and meet (Augusten) and perform with him. Obviously, I think it is such a cool thing. I have always been a really big reader and Sara and I both collect books, so it all just makes sense...the icing on the cake is that we get to spread the word and talk about this amazing organization that is making great social change and helping in the community with people infected by HIV/AIDS. (Housing Works) combines two very important things; giving people the resources and support that they need and also helping them with funding. We are getting ourselves in there and talking about something that is really important, so I'm really excited and kind of beside myself about the whole thing. Can you tell?
SheKnows: For sure. There is something rather serendipitous about this event coming about a year after the release of your album. Your sister Sara had an interview with my editor around that time where she described your latest release, The Con, as being comparable to "finding an old book on a shelf." Do you agree with that sentiment?
Tegan Quin: I think so...Absolutely. I think we have been really lucky because every record we have put out – except for maybe the first one – are all stories you can get lost in...Maybe even kind of timeless. By saying that I mean, we are really trying to capture a moment in time with each record. I think in The Con we employed the idea that we were writing a story through the sequencing of the record…Compare the songs like I was Married, which is the first song on the record, to Call It Off, which is the last. You start out with this very sad but sweet and romantic gesture, the idea that you love someone so much that it doesn't matter how other people perceive you or what that relationship stands for in society. It is this uncontrollable urge to be with someone, to love them, make this promise to them to be with them forever. You take this whole journey, like reading a story, and then you're part of the record. We finished it with Call It Off, which is again a very sad, but romantic and hopeful suggestion…There is still that idea that maybe you will start again...and then you do. I think in a weird way (the record) takes you on a journey, which a good novel will do. That's how we got the idea to create all the artwork and the theme for this record and make it seem like it's a book not a record.
Up next...Tegan talks about Call it Off and working with Death Cab for Cutie