Music News & Reviews

Tegan and Sara: identical twins, very different musicians

Tegan and Sara Quin are identical twin sisters who make music together as Tegan and Sara, and Sara says, "people assume we share organs and are not separated for any length of time."

For years, one sister has lived in Vancouver and the other in Montreal. For the geographically challenged, there is a lot of Canada between those cities.

But look closely at the lyrics of Tegan and Sara's songs and you'll notice a clear delineation. About half the songs are tightly wound and conservative with words. The others tend to have longer lines.

"If anything came out of our session-writing together, it was getting to see how Tegan writes," Sara says. "She doesn't edit. Even in conversation, she'll cycle through something three or four times. I nod and acknowledge what she's saying, but she'll repeat it. It's almost like a tic, and it can be maddening.

"But that urgency and repetition makes her songs really intense, and they resonate with an audience. There's this intoxication and feeling of panic and vulnerability. I'm more introverted about it. I'm afraid to be misunderstood, so I spend an agonizing amount of time working out lyrics.

"Some people hear these differences. Others can't tell us apart."

The collaborative songs, for now, remain unreleased. The group's most recent album, Sainthood, found the sisters bringing the songs together and then putting the band's signature electro-pop sound to them.

"I think a lot of musicians like to work alone because there's something magical about writing," Sara says. "It's special and meditative and unexplainable. To suddenly have somebody in the room witnessing it, it feels awkward."

The duo have built a loyal grass-roots following and a solid business infrastructure over the past decade. They've enjoyed some sales growth, moving from an independent to Warner Bros. and expanding their brand.

Touring remains Tegan and Sara's business, with tickets and tour merchandise. (Their closest show to Lexington is March 30 at Promo West Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio.) And they've yet to trip up the listeners who were there at the outset. "We've never been the biggest buzz band," Sara says. "It's part of preserving a career, not being the thing in the industry that was temporarily cool. Our fans are loyal and supportive, and we try to repay them by continuing to build a great show."