Twin sisters originally from Calgary, Tegan and Sara have been making their own distinctive blend of confessional folk, pop and indie rock since they were about 15 years old. Their latest album is called Heartthrob, which is out on Jan. 29 and marks something of a bold departure for a duo looking to resonate with a broader audience and shake up mainstream radio. Fans in Canada can stream Heartthrob right here, right now.
ListenHeartthrob by Tegan and Sara
Streaming until Jan. 28
“It starts with the songs,” Tegan Quin says over the phone. She’s responding to a question about a conscious decision she and her sister, Sara, made to try and conquer mainstream pop radio with Heartthrob. It seems like a reasonable objective since pretty much everyone wants to have a hit song on the radio.
So how did a veteran duo like Tegan and Sara plan to do this? By literally sitting down together and making a list of the music they’ve made already and the music they want to make in the future.
“Sara felt that I had been writing too much of the self-loathing, self-deprecating laying-on-the-floor-feeling-bad-for-myself type songs and that that’s not the position I’m in anymore,” Tegan explains. “I’m actually pretty successful at love and should try to write from a different perspective.”
OK, fair point, Sara. You won that one. Let’s see how Tegan responds.
“I told Sara that she hadn’t provided us with a hit in at least six years and that she needed to write another ‘Back in Your Head.’”
Boom, Tegan strikes back, outta nowhere.
“So it starts with the songs,” Tegan continues, “and I think this is the strongest batch of songs we’ve ever written and I think people will agree.”
If hardcore Tegan and Sara fans are concerned about losing their band to the masses and mediocrity, they should think again. This whole reflective, what-are-we-doing thing was a tune-up; some necessary maintenance and quality control.
The twin sisters spent a year writing 40 songs together before settling on the 10 strongest ones that now make up Heartthrob. And they chose producers Greg Kurstin, Justin Meldal-Johnsen and Mike Elizondo, who could best help them seamlessly transcend their current standing in pop music to some place more ubiquitous.
“Sara and I absolutely wanted to gather a new audience and toss ourselves into the mix when it comes to mainstream radio,” Tegan explains. “A lot of stuff that’s happening on radio is great right now but there’s a lot of yucky stuff too. We picked producers who would understand our integrity and indie-rockness but also could support us entering the pop mainstream. Heartthrob is a record that reflects the times but has roots in what we’ve created in the past.”
IMTo hear the full conversation, you can download an MP3 if you right-click this highlighted text and “Save target as." Or to stream it, press play.
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on Jan 24, 2013