Canadian duo Tegan And Sara’s switch to pop has earned them new fans

Award-winning twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin’s new album, Love You To Death, continues the synth-pop sound of their previous album Heartthrob.
Award-winning twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin’s new album, Love You To Death, continues the synth-pop sound of their previous album Heartthrob. PHOTO: LIVE NATION LUSHINGTON

Music duo Tegan And Sara's decision to embrace glossy pop has given them a bigger fanbase

Canadian twin-sister duo Tegan And Sara shocked long-time fans when they broke from their guitar- driven indie rock past to embrace glossy pop in their 2013 album, Heartthrob.

In an interview with The Straits Times, Sara Quin, the younger of the pair, says that shows such as their upcoming gig at The Star Theatre on July 29 would probably not happen without the drastic change in musical direction.

"It was sort of a goal for us to get to new places, not so much about growing the audience in certain cities where we always had a fanbase.

"It was getting to play places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan," she says of the switch in genres.

It led to an increase in radio airplay, a bigger and more diversified fanbase around the world as well as shows with pop stars such as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

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The 35-year-old adds: "It was about having new experiences - we went to China, we went to Mexico. Those were the things that we were focusing on. We wanted to make sure that we were doing new things and going to new places."

Their debut show in Singapore in 2013 was part of the world tour following the release of the Heartthrob album.

The follow-up, Love You To Death, released on June 3, continues the shiny, synth-pop sounds of its predecessor.

It has been getting generally good reviews in the music press, with British music magazine NME hailing it as "their definitive record", one that marks their arrival as "a force to reckon with in the pop world", while Chicago-based online music magazine Pitchfork marks it as an affirmation of their ability to be a "crucial voice in the pop landscape".

The title was taken from an earlier song that Quin wrote. It did not make it to the album, but they liked the title so much that they ended up using it to name the release.

"It was kind of an intense song and it wasn't right for the album, but I kept coming back to the idea of loving someone to death, like loving them so much, loving them until you die or loving them until the emotion dies, whatever it is.

"So we thought it summed up the different themes on the album and the different kinds of relationships we were talking about on the album."

Some songs off Love You To Death are about how the sisters relate to each other. 100x, she explains, is about the time she left Tegan behind in Vancouver to live on her own in Montreal, while White Knuckles is about "the challenge and struggles" of being siblings who play in the same band.

Formed when they were 15, they recorded two demos at their school's recording studio before releasing their debut album, Under Feet Like Ours, independently in 1999.

They signed onto Canadian veteran singer Neil Young's record company Vapor Records later in the year and the label has released all their albums since.

Besides their own albums and EPs, the pair are also known for Everything Is Awesome, the catchy theme song from the 2014 animated film The Lego Movie.

They have also won a number of music accolades, including at the Juno Awards, Canada's equivalent of the Grammys.

Fans who love their older material need not fret because Quin says their return show in Singapore will feature both old and new songs from all their eight albums.

"We've recently spent some time re-imagining all the songs people love from our older records, so they sound a little different, but I still think they're exciting for people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Indie rockers love pop to death'. Print Edition | Subscribe