Razgovori ugodni

Tegan: We still wanted to make an introspective pop record

Matija Manđurov ponedjeljak, 11. studenog 2013

Uoči zagrebačkog koncerta Tegan & Sara porazgovarali smo s jednom od sestara, Tegan. Dotaknuli smo se novog albuma, produciranja tuđih materijala i ostalih stvari, većinom nevezanih za aktualne političke teme u Hrvatskoj.

Dosta se često raspravlja o tome da u Zagreb dolaze veliki bendovi godinama nakon što su prestali biti relevantni. Svako malo slučajno se dogodi neki National, ali velika većina bendova koja nas posjeti, dođe umanjena za nekog ključnog člana koji je nakon previše godina provedenih na turneji odustao ili bez posjedovanja kvalitetnog novog materijala. Upravo je zato koncert Tegan & Sara dobio na težini. Dalo bi se raspravljati o kvaliteti novog albuma, pogotovo što vjerujem da ga je određeni dio indie elitista dočekao s gnušanjem, ali kanadski indie duo nikad nije bio bitniji nego sada. Pogotovo zato što će Hrvatska za manje od mjesec dana jednom za sva vremena dokazati svijetu da niti geografski niti mentalno ne spada u razvijeni svijet.

U to ime dobio sam priliku kratko popričati s jednom od sestara, konkretnije Tegan, o novom albumu, produciranju tuđeg materijala i ostalim stvarima, većinom nevezanim za aktualne političke teme u Hrvatskoj.

You just released your seventh album, do you ever regret starting this band?
Yeah sure, every day. I'll have a moment when I'm like, what are we doing. Then I look out the window and think how else would I be able to see this. Every day this week I've been to a country I've never been before. I think we are really grateful still for the opportunity to play music and connect with people, but there are days when I'm like 'Im too old for this'.

Most artists that change their sound experience a backlash from some of their more passionate fans, were you afraid of that kind of feedback for "Heartthrob"?
No, I wasn't afraid of it, I knew it would happen on some level. Our fans are very intimate with us and the community around this band is very intense, but if we didn't take a risk and do something different, those people wouldn't like it anyway. I feel like those people, they want something they can't have, something that doesn't exist. They are gonna be mad no matter what, so you have to put them out of your mind. When you make music, you have to take everything you possible can from inside yourself and put it on the record. People that listen to that and get that, those are the people that you want in your audience. The people who listen and say 'hmm its sounds like this and I don't like it', fuck off, they don't matter. So yeah, we worry, but we were excited that they talked about it, the fans they discussed why this was good and bad, and in the end they loved it. They feel proud that "Heartthrob" is doing so well, that so many more people are hearing us, that we are able to travel to so many new places. I think that in the end its good that we pushed their boundaries, and they ended up liking it.

The internet claims that both you and your sister are in a relationship, yet most of the lyrics on the new album seem to focus on heartbreak and loss. Why did you choose to write about those subjects?
Well, I think that at our core, we are probably very self deprecating and we probably... Well I have faith in love and relationships, but I'm skeptical. I don't believe in forever, I don't believe that things last forever. I am always processing and looking back to find inspiration and knowledge from the things that I've lived through. I also think that for Heartthrob specifically, you know I wrote songs like "I Was A Fool", "Closer" and "Drove Me Wild" which talk less about the loss of love and more about the moment when you meet someone and you feel the spark. You can see the whole relationship, even thought you known them for a minute, but you can see where it is gonna go. It's like there is a chemical addiction. But you also see the failure too, and I think in order to really truly enjoy it, you have to see the whole good and bad.

When you write a song, do you write it together, or are there specific Sara songs and Tegan songs?
There are definatly Sara songs and Tegan songs, and then there are songs where we collaborate together, but the bulk of the song is written by one or the other. Like "Closer", I wrote eighty percent of that, and then we got in the studio and we collaborated on the rest of it. One of us starts the song.

"Heartthrob" at moments sounds like it was inspired by eightes synth pop and in recent years you collaborated with electronic artist like Tiesto and Guetta. Did working with those artists influence the sound on this album?
We just love pop music, we grew up in the eighties. Our big inspirations are not IDM, its Cyndi Lapuher, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys. We just wanted to emulate those sounds, but we are also very inspired by what happening in pop music. I like a lot of pop music. I feel there is a lot of depth in pop music, and that the line between indie and mainstream is blurred. I just felt that I wanted to experiment with all of those sounds. I think that our experience with Tiesto and Guetta, what we took away from that, is that when we combine forces the music is better. I don't think we wanted to make a dance record. We still wanted to make an introspective pop record.

Is that why you recently started producing records, to better understand pop music?
Yeah, I want to understand my craft. I want to know everything about that I do, so I can make it better. Every year I just want to be more involved in everything that I do.

So do you prefer producing other peoples work, or working on your own songs?
Making my own music. I don't think that I could be a full time producer, but I do like it. There something you learn, shadowing someone else process.

Are you aware there is a song called "Creeping out Sara"?
-(smijeh) yeahhh. You know what..........There are a lot of wierd people in this industry, but we are good sports. Specifically Fat Mike. He is a trip, and so is NOFX. Its what they do. They write wierd, jokey songs.

So you are not offended?
No. I felt bad for him. Everyone thought it was him dissing us, you know (macho glas) lesbians and whatever. He was so sad, he wrote a open letter. He was like I love Tegan and Sara, I am saying Im a creep, and they are cool. I loved NOFX as a kid, I thought they were great. The song was kinda annoying to deal with, but from a fan perspective, I thought it was funny.

Are you concerned that your activism will overshadow you work as songwriters? That people will remember you more for your work to promote equality rather than your songs?
Its a win-win either way. I can be remembered as a songwriter or performer, or I can be remembered as someone who stood up for gay rights. If my work with the LGBT community ends up overshadowing the work I've done in music, well that was the whole point. I guess. I truly believe passion and purpose are two different things. I feel passionate about music, but my purpose on this planet is not to make music. Its to change the world, to make it a better place. So if I can combine these two things and be remembered for that, great. But if I get remembered for one or the other that's fine too.

The young lady SOAK will open for you tonight, she plays quite similar music to what you sounded like when you started. Did you choose her because she seems like a younger version of yourselves?
She so much better that us. The fact that she is seventeen and very similar to the way we were was a big part of it, but honestly I didn't know anything about her, I just thought that the music was great. Then we heard she was seventeen and I was like what. I think she so much better that we were at that age, she is so talented, she is mesmerizing. We've been traveling for ten days, she silences a thousand people in a bar. Its incredible.

You also worked with Tom Gabel, or Laura Jane Grace as she is now known. What are your thoughts on her being the first major label artist to come out as transgender?
I know its amazing, she's incredible. I was a huge Against Me! fan, when I first meet Against me! I was interviewing them for a music channel in Canada, and I made a joke, they were making an new record, and I was like If you need a backup singer, call me up. We've become friends, we did a couple of shows together. When I read about Laura coming out as trans, I read about it like everyone else. I was completely blown away. I had no idea. But I am so excited for her, she has a beautifully wife, and a beautifully child. She's an incredible writer, and I think its was a really brave step, but mostly it was so exciting, because now she is the persons that she wants to be, and everyone should be that.

She also shares your passion for tattoos. Do you have a favorite tattoo?
That's impossible, I wouldn't even know how to pick one, there are like children to me. How do you decide? There are all good and all bad.

One last question, did you get a chance to explore Zagreb?
I think I saw a little bit of the city. We've got to come back. The best part of what we do is that I don't ever come to a new place and think that I have to see everything, because I am gonna come back twenty more times. So each time we take another piece, you know? But I will say that this is by far the most beautifully place we've been in Europe.

Time je mojih deset minuta isteklo. Unatoč tome što sam bio ugasio mikrofon i bio spreman da me se potjera, Tegan se raspričala o temi za koju vjerujem da ju je prije ili kasnije svatko pitao taj dan. Pričajući o ljepoti Zagreba, neimenovano smo počeli pričati o njegovim stanovnicima, kao i stanovnicima cijele države. Kako dolazi iz zemlje koja je problem gay prava riješila u trenutku kada se tek pokretala priča o paradi u Zagrebu, pokazala je nevjerojatnu dozu optimizma prema našoj trenutačnoj situaciji. Uvjerena je da će prije ili kasnije, cijeli svijet prihvatiti ljude svih seksualnih orijentacija, ako iz niti jednog drugog razloga, onda zato što će zadnje protivnike biti sram ostati usamljenima u inatu.