Tegan and Sara‘s 2016 album Love You To Death saw the Quin sisters further challenge fans with an exploration of the defined pop side of their songwriting and artistry. Their sisters’ eighth studio album currently has Tegan and Sara touring around the world – they’re soon to return to Australia – not only bringing the album to audiences, but also continuing to connect with fans in places so far-flung from their hometown of Calgary.
“For 2017, our goal was to do a lot of international travelling and finish up the year with festivals in America,” Tegan confidently says during our recent phone call. “We’re on track for all of that and we’re feeling very excited.”
Tegan and Sara’s Australian return for the Twilight at Taronga and Melbourne Zoo series (not to mention a run of headline shows and an appearance at this year’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney) follows on from an impressive Splendour in the Grass appearance not even six months ago. The opportunity to revisit fans and well-visited territories is never taken for granted, as Tegan explains.
“It’s never far from our thoughts, especially when we’re taking the 15 our flight to Australia!” she laughs. “Honestly, we feel very lucky – especially with the last two records – that even though they sound very different and they definitely pushed a lot of the older fans and challenged them, I was so pleased with how people have responded. Obviously, we couldn’t be happier with the increase in exposure and popularity, because it’s allowing us to do things like what we’re doing right now with the Foundation.”
“I feel like we’re at our creative peak right now.” Tegan adds. “We’re really honing in on who we are and becoming better writers. The craft is important to me. First and foremost, I want to put out music that I’m going to feel proud of when I look back. I feel like we are really challenging ourselves to be better writers and singers and performers. I think that the response has been very validating, but mostly, I love sending Sara new songs and she’ll be like, ‘This is amazing!’. I’m like, ‘Wow, I impressed Sara…25 years later!'”
Along with the slew of tour dates Tegan and Sara have been clocking since the release of Love You To Death, the recent launch of the Tegan and and Sara Foundation has afforded the Quin sisters a new insight into the world of social activism.
Already well-known for using their platform as musicians to spread messages of support, encouragement and general positivity to their large fanbase and newcomers alike, the Tegan and Sara Foundation has a focused approach on fighting for economic justice, health furthered representation for LGBTQ women and girls.
“We’ve been really happy with how things have been going.” Tegan says. “I mean, it’s been pretty tough lately with politics, but Sara and I are the ultimate optimists. We’re just hard at work between Tegan and Sara and the Foundation; we stay busy and we stay positive.”
“Truthfully, we’ve always felt such a responsibility to be active in our community and be political and to be well read and use our platform for positivity and for good.” she explains. “I think all that all the bad stuff that’s happened in the world has reaffirmed for us why that matters so much to us. I think it also has renewed our faith in humanity, to see millions of women and their allies marching around the world for women’s rights.”
While the current social and political climate producing a pretty dark and dire outlook for many of the already disadvantaged, Tegan’s optimism shines as she talks with confidence about the Foundation she and her sister have created and continue to grow.
“I think we’re living in complicated times,” she agrees. “There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of prejudice and a lot of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia…there’s no denying that. There’s also no denying that the world is a pretty interesting place with a lot of different kinds of people and we’re lucky to speak a universal language. We speak music and we’re able to bring that around the world; I think that’s really engendered us with a sense of purpose and we just try to give back as much of that purpose to people around the world.”
As an artist and performer, Tegan is aware of the opportunities she is afforded that may not be possible for others, but it’s the people she and Sara have been able to meet through their work with the Foundation and their continued research into the causes they remain so passionate about that have inspired and influenced her work and approach.
“Meeting with the LGBTQ organisations, specifically in North America who are doing such great work, bolsters me.” she says. “It makes me feel like I have a lot more faith in society and I also know that there is an incredible network of people doing incredible work in the non-profit sector, fighting for our rights. It’s amazing. As an artist, to go out on the road and have such a huge amount of women in our audience and such a huge amount of LGBTQ people and their allies, I recognise that we bring a lot of hope to people too. I think that that’s why we turn it around and feel the social responsibility to do more with that.”
“I think we feel really lucky; we have the ability to meet with leaders in the LGBTQ movement and it’s incredible to talk to them. It’s so inspiring and it makes me want to do better and educate myself. I know that around the world, there are so many fights still to be had and my number one goal right now with the Tegan and Sara Foundation is that we do become a global foundation that is able to help people all over. We’ve seen it firsthand in Southeast Asia and in Europe, in Australia and New Zealand – there are lots of places that still need movement, that still need funding, that still need the activism and we really want to grow into that. We’re not going to grow too fast, but we hope to be that eventually.”
Find out more about the Tegan and Sara Foundation here. Catch the girls out in Australia in March.
March 4th | Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, SYDNEY
with The Veronicas
March 6th | The Tivoli, BRISBANE
with Bec Sandridge
March 7th | The Gov, ADELAIDE
with Bec Sandridge
March 8th | Melbourne Zoo Twilights
March 9th | Taronga Zoo, SYDNEY
Photo by Pamela Littky.