The Jackson 5. The Bee Gees. Disclosure. Broods. There’s something pretty special that happens when siblings create music together, especially if they’re twins. In twenty years, Tegan and Sara Quin have conquered vast musical terrain, starting from indie folk and venturing into synthpop with 2013 album Heartthrob. They’re still going strong after releasing their latest album Love You to Death in June, stopping by Hong Kong on July 28 for a show at KITEC. Young Post caught up with the pair right before they hit the stage:
How are you finding Hong Kong?
S: We love Hong Kong. It’s a beautiful city. It’s modern but there’s also the older part too. It’s just so cool here.
T: We went for food last night, we had amazing barbecued pork and fried rice. And we went for a walk today for an hour at the waterfront. We were up at 6:30am so we were wandering around.
That is super early! Do you have similar habits?
S: Haha, that’s because of the jetlag. But for the most part we are pretty similar. I tend to get up a little earlier than Tegan; she doesn’t seem to be plagued with that nagging guilt that wakes me up in the morning where I’m like, ‘I can’t lay here anymore, I’m such a loser!’
T: I decided in my head that as long as I’m up before 8am, then I’m fine. This is not while on tour, of course, because then we stay up until 2am.
S: I know people who are in their thirties and they sleep until 11am, and that just seems like a grand waste of time.
You guys have been touring around for years. Do you remember your first vacation?
S: We used to go to the mountains a lot as kids, we lived just an hour from where we’d camp and fish and ski. So those were pretty common childhood trips. The first time we were in an aeroplane was to go to Atlanta, Georgia in the United States to visit my cousins. We drove with them down to Florida and we went to Disney World. We were 11 and I just remember everything was new. It was southern United States which was really hot. We went to the beach and I had never swam in salt water before. That was probably the first time that we did something really different.
Are you tired of travelling now?
T: I was saying this the other day that you become used to it. We’ve actually learned how to travel so we don’t get as tired. If I randomly just brought a friend with me to this tour where we fly to a new country every day, I know that they’ll be a disaster. But yesterday we were on a 10-hour flight from Australia to Hong Kong, and that didn’t feel tiring to me. You get routines. You know better. We don’t go out partying, we don’t drink a lot, we drink lots of water.
S: And exercise. Touring is still hard, but we’ve learned to take care of ourselves as we’ve gotten older and I think that makes the travelling easier.
How do you keep yourselves motivated to exercise when you’re so busy?
S: It’s so hard, I’m so lazy. I try to figure out a routine that I can do anywhere. Like this morning I didn’t feel like going to the gym, so I did jumping jacks, squats and push ups. It’s just anything to get that blood pumping. Some of it is vanity, I want to be fit and look good, but I think that now in my thirties I realise that my body is my body, I can’t dramatically change anything. I try to think about what will strengthen the body I have for my senior citizen years, haha! It’s funny how my perception of exercise has really changed as I have gotten older. Before I would just run and run and run to try to get super skinny.
Do you like to stay in the same room?
S: Oh my God, no. Absolutely no. We’re grown ladies, we love our own space.
T: I think Sara’s a great person, we really appreciate each other, but we just spend so much time together. I don’t think it’s personal. It’s just like being married; inevitably after 35 years you need your space.
What’s the best thing about being in a band with your twin?
S: There’s sort of an unconditional love and respect. I love the people we tour with, but they’re not my family. You can trust them and care about them up to a certain point, but then they’re just still human beings who care about themselves. In a weird way I know what Tegan really cares about, and I know that I’m a part of that.
How can we tell you apart?
T: I have a piercing under my lip, so I’ve got a hole there.
What’s your pre-show routine?
S: We’re not a big warm-up band. We sit with the guys who we play with, we talk and listen to music. I do a bit of vocal warm-up, but it’s mostly about getting into the space and thinking about the show. Pretty boring stuff, we don’t go crazy or anything. Usually it’s about clearing out all the people we hang around with all the time. We’re like, ‘go away now’.
Do you listen to your own music before a show?
S: No, always other people’s. I don’t really listen to our own music except when we’re working on an album. I always listen to jazz, electronic music, whatever, just to clean the palette.
What backstage requests do you have?
T: The food’s gotta be consistent every day. It’s pretty healthy – rice cakes, almond butter, vegetables, juices – but there’s always snack stuff on there too.
S: And that’s the first thing everyone goes for.
T: Chocolate and chips.
How do you decide on your setlist?
T: Because we’ve been doing a lot of interviews and promotional stuff, we didn’t have time to learn the whole new record. So we put in a handful of new songs, and then just a tonne of old songs. We spent a lot of the last record supporting other bands and playing festivals, and this record we wanted to do headline shows and give back to our audience, so we’re playing a lot of old music. It’s really fun to play songs we’ve reworked, like Walking With A Ghost, Nineteen, Back In Your Head.
S: A lot of them is the opposite of what it originally was. So if a song was a big rock song, we play it like a ballad. If it’s indie rock alternative, it’s now new wave. That’s fun to us because some of these songs we’ve played thousands of times. In a couple weeks we’re running back to the studio to learn more new songs so there’s gonna be more new music the next time we head out. But for now we’ve got a lot of acoustic songs, a lot of chit chatting.
Tell us about one of your favourite moments in a concert?
T: The other night we played at Sydney, and we were laughing on stage because I was saying that Sara’s cooler than I am. We started joking about it and I said how fun it would be if everyone went on our Twitter or Instagram and wrote Sara’s cooler than me, because people who weren’t at the show wouldn’t understand it. It’s been two days and people are still doing that!
You guys released the music video of BWU two weeks ago, can you tell us the inspiration of it?
S: The director Clea Duvall sent us the treatment and her idea was that it would be a surprise ending where you would see me proposing to everybody and at the end you would realise that I was looking for someone who was going to accept that I was never going to be interested in getting married. I really thought that was a clever way to showcase that very simple message. There was a part of me that wondered if we should get political about it, but I like that it took a bit of a sweeter message.
How did you come up with the idea to do a video for every song on your latest album?
T: I pitched the idea really early on. We always just focus on the singles, so we’ll do two videos, and that’s it. But oftentimes the songs fans like the most don’t get videos, the deeper, more emotional songs. I thought that each song was so strong in this record that we should spread out our budget and make ten videos. And thankfully the record label was OK with that! With each video we just try to do something different, so they appeal to different people. We’ve got three left to shoot, so we’re almost there!