Duo works with three different pop producers for new set, tentatively due this fall
Credit: Lindsey Byrnes
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Tegan Quin’s mind is on Bruce Springsteen and Katy Perry.
“We want to reach as many people as possible. We’re always balancing how to take what we do on our own at home and put it out around the world and make it reach people,” said Quin of her duo with her twin sister Sara. “What about Bruce Springsteen, or Arcade Fire? They reach so many people. I spent the whole last year exploring a lot of popular music, and – you know – so many people listen to Katy Perry. There must be something that goes into reaching 20 million people.”
Maybe they’re not up to 20 million worldwide concert attendees or album sales, but Tegan and Sara have done pretty good on their own, even without records featuring Snoop Dogg or 40 years of history under their belts. Their 2009 album “Sainthood” made it to No. 21 on The Billboard 200, their best sales and charting period yet. Their strength is, in part, their fiercely loyal fan-base and the reliable nature of word-of-mouth. The other part is their recognizable voices, and their like-minded take on pop music, love songs, breakup anthems and good old-fashioned stage banter.
“Look at Adele and Coldplay, who are accessible to more people. For their fans, that’s really raw and emotional… I can’t change my voice. I’m never gonna sound like Katy Perry or Chris Martin or Adele,” Tegan said during our recent interview. But the Canadian twosome have been featured vocalists on dance tracks from Tiesto and Morgan Page, and the response from that community has been encouraging.
“I’d like to think each record is a step in a new direction,” Tegan continued. “There’s always going to be fans who wish we still sat on stools and didn’t have a band and played our shows that way… but now I want to share my music with as many people as I can.”
To achieve making an album that’s “more radio-friendly” and “more pop,” Tegan and Sara Quin interviewed with several different producers, and landed on three of them: Greg Kurstin
, Mike Elizondo
and Justin Meldal-Johnson
. When they finish recording by the end of this month, they will have spent a number of weeks with every producer, punching out a handful of songs during each short residency, resulting in 13-14 finished tracks.
“We’ve never done a record this way,” she said. “They’re all very different guys but… in general, we felt they all had a similar approach to recording. We interviewed a lot of people. It wasn’t that we couldn’t agree on one…”
Tegan and Sara liked Kurstin right away, but he wasn’t available to work on a whole album. They both loved Elizondo – who has worked with artists from Fiona Apple to Maroon 5 to Mastodon – and they adored Meldal-Johnson’s work, particularly on M83’s album “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming.” They’ve gone in with demos of songs that they wrote acoustically and hope to come out with some “full-on dance songs.”
“We thought they all could bring us to a similar place. All three work in that pop world,” she said. ““At this point, I’m confident we all have the chops to pull that off. We want our fans to just trust our judgement.”
While they don’t want to rush a schedule, Tegan and Sara hope to have a release around October this year, title TBA.
As for touring on it, expect some of what the album will offer: fewer guitar-built songs, more keys and synths, and more of a production and precisely configured band to pull it all together on stage. Like many of their other songs, the tunes here are still built lyrically around “relationships and conflicts and fun. We’re both romantically stable, and in healthy relationships. We’re still singing about our tortured pasts, but in a new way. There’s some romantic sweet songs,” she said. “There’s something for everyone.”
Of course. But will it be so pop that a rapper might show up for a rhyme or two?
“No, no,” she said, laughing. “We won’t have Kanye, and even if was drunk, I probably wouldn’t rap.”