Interview with Sara Quin

Tegan and Sara have officially become a band that needs no introduction, playing large enough venues that, if you were lucky to have seen them touring over the past 10 years, you can say you “knew them when.”

The 29-year-old twin sisters have branded themselves as one of pop-rock’s greatest songwriting duos, creating poetically poignant lyrics about romantic anxiety, heartbreak that is quite literally “Hell,” and the plight of moving on from something that felt otherwise permanent.

After a decade of writing songs (each on their own — Tegan from her home in Vancouver, Sara in Montreal) and touring to share their live harmony arrangements and amusing stage banter (sisters!), the band’s moniker has surpassed being their names and become a well-known entity for quality pop songs.

It’s no wonder the queer community has celebrated them so much and so often. As out lesbians, Tegan and Sara have allowed themselves to be used as veritable poster girls for attractive, talented and successful gay women who have no qualms about their sexuality, even bringing girlfriends on the road with them and participating in the True Colors Tour and the OUT Magazine 100 in 2008.

Besides a booming merch line, designed largely by Sara’s ex-girlfriend Emy Storey, Tegan and Sara have released a DVD, It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It, and are preparing for the publication of three books: On, In, At.

So far, Sainthood, Tegan and Sara’s sixth full-length album, has reached number one on Canadian iTunes and number three on American iTunes charts in its first week. The supporting tour is boasting sold out shows internationally, now through early spring. What used to be an easy band to contact is now balanced between two publicists (the major label contact and the girls’ long-time PR guru), and so incredibly busy that they have time to do press only if they have a day off in between shows.

Sara was able to talk to me on one such off day, in between several other interviews, two days before Halloween. She was candid and eloquent, with a lot to say about having a public break-up with Emy, the punk song that was written about their sexuality, and going from broke Greyhound bus tours to building an eclectic and dedicated fanbase.

photo by Lindsey Byrnes