Always heed your mother's advice, especially when that advice is to drive down to Firefly Music Festival , alone, at 6:30 in the morning. "It'll be fun!" she told me. "Just go!"
Fast forward to 12 hours later, and I had somehow weaseled my way into landing an interview with Tegan and Sara, the sister duo I had adored for the last 10 years. After some brief editing of the nervous laughter and enthusiastic "Hell yeah!" responses on my part, here's the conversation that ensued:
I'm so excited to be here with you guys. "I Know I Know I Know" was my favorite song for like, five years.
Tegan Quin: We just recently added “I know I know I know” back into our setlist! We’re relearning everything from "So Jealous" because we're coming up on the 10th anniversary. Can you believe it's been 10 years?
That makes so much sense, because 2004 was just the most emo year of my life and you guys got me through that.
Tegan Quin: We didn’t really understand “emo” or what that whole scene was but I remember meeting Andy Greenwald and he had written that book, “Nothing Feels Good.” He was writing about the emo scene and that’s when I started to be like, 'Oh shit, this is like, a thing that’s happening' and we kind of got caught up in all of that. It’s funny how it’s changed though. It’s kind of splintered and it seems like a lot of those bands aren’t really doing much.
Yes, did you guys ever play Warped Tour back in the day?
Tegan Quin: We were offered it, but we turned it down. At that point we weren’t into festivals. Especially in those years, we were a much more organic band, so we had like 10 guitars on stage. You don’t have a soundcheck, the sound sucks, your show sucks. It just was harder. Now we have our own soundboard. Things are easier. And I think festivals have become a really exciting way for you to get in front of an audience that knows who you are but wouldn’t necessarily come to your show. So it’s giving us a bigger audience than we would if we were just playing our own shows.
Your current music has definitely veered more toward EDM than acoustic sounds.
Tegan Quin: It’s a different time, and you’ve got to embrace it. Sara and I think that’s why we’re still relevant after 10 years. We’re not trying to make the same record, and we’re not trying to be the same band we were. We are evolving and allowing time to catch up with us. I think that’s a big part of what’s happening in music. We’re all having to accept that things are changing.
Even if your sound is more EDM, it's still moody music. House music can actually be really deep and I’m not so sure people get that.
Tegan Quin: And it's that way with pop music, too. That’s why we made "Heartthrob." Because we felt like, even someone who’s extremely popular and mainstream as Taylor Swift, she’s singing really deep shit. She’s talking about really sad things. I think what Sara and I’s goal was to try and take the content and the deepness, vulnerability, and realness of "So Jealous" and match it with what’s popular today.
Sara Quin: And also, we don’t listen to that kind of music anymore. A lot of kids will come to our shows and be like "I liked 'So Jealous,' I wish you guys still sounded like that" and I’m like well when we were making those records, I listened to music that sounded like that and now I don't.
Tegan Quin: Sara's listening to Kanye.
Sara Quin: I started listening to Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Robyn ... for me to go back and do "So Jealous" or "The Con" again would be so disingenuous. It would be faking a style that is not me anymore. I think that’s the evolution that will hopefully keep us around for a long time, is that we don’t want to bore each other. If Tegan sent me a song that sounded like off "The Con," I’d be like, "Sounds like 'The Con.' Let’s modernize it." I think that’s what Tegan and Sara is. We’re not a band. We’re two songwriters, and every one of our records is really different than the one before. We’re in a time where we’re interested in pop music, and who knows what we’ll be doing in two or three years from now. But for the time being, what’s interesting to us is what’s currently happening in music.
Tegan Quin: Look at how many different bands are playing this festival. We’re at a time where you can just like any kind of music, and Sara and I are really embracing that.