Ask Tegan – Back to School Edition

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Date: September 2012
Author: Tegan Quin
Headline: Back to School Edition – Ask Tegan

Michael writes:
Hi Tegan,
I’m a new fan and think you and your sister are amazing musicians. You have referred to yourself as having a DIY band ethos in interviews as well as saying that you don’t get a lot of support from your labels. I’m curious though because you refer to yourself as DIY, and still have a label, and haven’t taken DIY to the level of say Trent Reznor.
So my question is what does DIY mean for Tegan and Sara?
PS: Can’t wait to see T&S live on your upcoming tour.

Hey Michael!

Thank you for writing in! And thank you for being a fan! Excited to have you! What does DIY mean to us? Well, we are involved in EVERYTHING! I mean EVERYTHING! We approve every marketing plan, poster, tour date, venue, t-shirt, final mix, business deal etc. EVERYTHING! So for us DIY is all about being present, involved, responsible and educated about every part of the business we engage in. Over the years we’ve had varying support from our labels, but we’ve also only allowed a certain amount of involvement…so we have learned to open up the lines of communication, share information, partner with our label when we can and work together to spread our music! But we’re still in the drivers seat. Nothing is happening without our consent! ha. It’s a good mix for us!

Thanks again for writing in! See you out on tour!


Devin writes:

More than one, but I’ll condense it the best I can.
You’re playing with The Black Keys and at the ACL in October (Which I’ve bought tickets for all seven shows already. They will be my first Tegan & Sara concerts! Making a road-trip out of it. Still waiting on public sales for the ACL.) Any plans to play new music at these venues? Are there plans for any other show dates this year? I did notice that the dates for LA and Anaheim are split apart by three days even though the venues are only thirty minutes apart. Maybe some potential for your own show between those dates? Extremely vague answers are welcomed!
I appreciate you taking the time to read and answer this! May I also add that I am so overwhelmingly excited for these shows and your new album! Hope you’re both doing well!
Devin Nelson
San Angelo, TX

Hey Devin! I’ll try and answer what I can:

1. We will be playing new music YES! We’ll also be doing new versions of a lot of old songs!

2. There are plans to announce more shows for this year yes!

3. The days off you see there will be filled, but not with our own show. Because we are on the dates with The Black Keys we are restricted
from doing our own shows. We wouldn’t want to compete with those shows anyway!

4. Thank you for writing in! I promise we’ll be touring the crap out of America in the new year! We’ll be playing all our new songs and lot’s of old stuff!
We have some exciting stuff planned!

Take care,

Lyric writes:

Hi Tegan,
I’m not much of a musician, just self taught and still pretty basic really, but I love to play around on my guitars for fun and stress relief. I’d like to collect more of them too, only up to 4 so far. But I’m also really interested in the nerdy side of things as well and am experimenting with different set-ups so was wondering – what brand and gauge strings do you like to use on your acoustics? And are you very specific on things like picks, straps, and strings, or are you happy and able to use just about anything? Any other little quirks?
Thanks for the inspiration showing girls can rock out just as well as the boys, and for the life changing music!

Hey Lyric,

Thanks for writing in! I consider myself self taught and pretty basic when it comes to guitar too! ha. I use medium or light gauge Martin strings. But I also use Didario strings from time to time. We change it up and often it’s really up to my guitar tech. I’m not overly picky! I do like my pics to be pretty soft/medium. I like them to have some give to them. I used to play with really thick pics and then over play and break strings. So now I try and take it easy on the ole guitar! ha. I like black straps. Simple and sleek! I love all my guitars for different reasons, but I too like to collect them. I don’t own anything that expensive but I love trying new guitars. They all sound so different and feel so different!

Keep at it!


Marci writes:

Hey Tegan,
I was wondering how your two year break from touring coupled with you hitting your 30s has affected your attitude about life on the road. Does your extended domesticity make you miss touring more, or less now?

Hey Marci!

Sara and I are nomadic at heart. We love to travel and move around. We’ve missed touring completely this past year and a half. We can’t wait to get back to it! I love being at home for extended periods of time and I like building up my life when I am home, but I am a traveler and will always move around. No matter what I do! No matter if I’m single or married or have 29 children! I like to move! ha. I definitely look forward to having a family and living a more domestic life at some point, but for now…I crave the stage! See you out there!


Wayne writes:

Dear Tegan,
I’ve noticed while watching your videos-especially “On directing”- how well you and Sara lip synch-is this something that comes naturally, do you practice, and do you actually sing along?

Ha! What a funny question! No, it does not come naturally. I practice a bit before each video shoot to re learn the recorded version of the song. It’s always awkward to do videos. There are 30 people on set all watching you lip sync to your own song. The music is never loud enough on set either! And the stress of doing all of this in front of so many people always makes me forget the lyrics! It’s awful! ha. But well worth it when we see the final product! But I’m not a natural in front of the camera! ha. Think that when you watch our videos next time!


Cyn.StoRm writes:

Have you ever thought about recording a double album – one with Sara songs and the other with Tegan songs? I know that you have different styles of music, but maybe you could explore your own style more if the songs don’t have to compliment each other.
And Tegan, why does Sara always sings the covers? Do you dislike singing them? If you did sing one, what song would it be?



We have considered a double album, one with Tegan songs and one with Sara songs, before. But it doesn’t feel like the right time to do something like this. For now we revel in each others differences and do our best to compliment each others styles and interests in music and themes! I don’t particularly like doing covers only because I am self conscious about my voice and ability when I’m not playing my own music! But perhaps this record cycle I will try! Right now I’d cover a Tom Petty or Phil Collins! Who wouldn’t love a little Groovy Kind Of Love at our show? ha.


Erin writes:

Hey Tegan!
I’ve been a longtime fan and LOVE your collaboration with Morgan Page on bodywork. I teach dance and plan on using it for my next number! I was wondering exactly how your collaboration process works? Do they send you music and a melody and then you fit in lyrics? Or do they ask you to write the lyrics and melody then send it to them to work on? Do they come up with the theme of the song or are the lyrics and meaning 100% up to you guys? Can’t wait to hear the new album and will definitely catch you on tour!

Hey Erin!

Thanks for the support and for writing in!

Generally for our dance collaborations the other artist sends us a track and we write the melodies and lyrics. We tend to go back and forth a bit making a few
changes here and there to the lyrics or melodies and then they finish the track and we re sing it. There are times when we send an idea and they build the track around it, but not often! It’s easier for us if the structure is already there.



Erin writes:

Hey Tegan,
I have a couple questions. First off, I would just like to say that coming from a community where there are not many openly gay people and many ignorant people, you and Sara have really helped me to open my mind and become more educated and accepting of gay people and the gay community. You have really lifted the taboo for me so thank you for that! As for the questions, have you noticed a change in the views and reactions of your fans/the media over the years on the topic of being gay? Secondly, I was just telling my friends how your band is the EASIEST band to be a fan of, because you are always putting out extra creative things like DVD’s and books, and I was wondering if had any plans for projects in the future? Looking forward to your next album and will catch you in Ottawa!

Hey Erin,

Thanks for writing in!

It is super important to Sara and I, and always has been, to be out and proud! We feel no shame about who we are! We never have. We made it our #1 goal to increase visibility, create awareness and acceptance world wide for LBGTQ people while also spreading our music.

Things have definitely changed in our business over the last 13 years. There is still so MUCH change to happen when it comes to LBGTQ issues, equality and rights but it has definitely shifted recently! We’ll keep at it, and you do too!

And yes! We love coming up with creative extras for our fans! There are tons of great ideas in the works right now for the release of our new record!

Thanks for the letter!