March 2012 Ask Tegan

Date: April 1, 2012
Author: Tegan Quin
Headline: March 2012 – Ask Tegan

Gwen writes:
Hi Tegan!
I feel like I’m going to the doctor where they tell you “only one issue per visit” and I’m feeling anxious because I’m going to sneak 2 in! :)
First, I’m wondering what city (anywhere in the world) sells the most concert tickets or sells the the quickest and has the most enthusiastic fans?
And second, when you and Sara write 50 songs for an album and only 14 make it onto the record, what happens to the rest of them? Do you just forget about them? Play them for yourself occasionally? I know some are probably recorded before you cut them from the record, but what about the others. Are they just abandoned like an old tree fort?
Okay, I guess technically more than 2 questions. Two topics!
Thanks! :)

Hey Gwen,

Great questions! I don’t mind answering them (more than 2 actually):

First, which city sells the most concert tickets…I think on the last record we did a gig in Chicago that was nearly 4500 people or something…generally we break up the shows over multiple nights if we get to that many tickets in a city. We like playing more intimate venues. Not always possible…

Second, which city sells the fastest…I mean…we have such a great audience and we typically see shows sell pretty fast in the major cities…we try to pick venues that will fit our audience perfectly as “Selling out” a venue means a lot of fans not being able to see us..and that isn’t good for us or them so…!

Third, our most enthusiastic audiences have typically been in Europe and the UK, but LA is pretty crazy. I think one of the wildest shows on the last record cycle was in Salt Lake CIty! Florida is pretty crazy too. Ha. They are all good! OUR FANS RULE!

And what happens to all the unused songs? Well…wouldn’t you like to know! Ha. Most go to a hard drive or our iTunes library and rarely get listened to.. but every once and a while we go digging around in there for inspiration. I mine ideas from old songs and use them for new songs. There is a song on the new record we’re working on where Sara took lyrics from a song we did in New Orleans for our last record and wrote new music for it. So…we recycle and reuse

Thanks for the questions!


Dave writes:
Dear Tegan,
You and Sara sure do get remixed, covered and re-imagined quite a bit, by everyone from EDM DJ’s, acoustic singer-songwriters, and even hardcore and deathcore(!) bands. How do you guys feel about all the creative love thrown your way? Any favorite versions of your songs by another artist?
For a corollary question, as of writing this, you and Sara will be hard at work on the new album. Just wondering if you guys planned on having different artists remix one of the new songs, as you did with “Back In Your Head” and “Alligator”?

Hey Dave!

We are absolutely going to have a remix campaign on this new record. Sara and I listen to a lot of dance and electronic and we love having our music remixed.

And do we love all the love? We do! I love hearing our music reimagined and remixed! The weirder and more obscure or different from the original the better! This year we heard quite a few awesome dub step remixes that blew my mind! We always post them when we get them!

I also love the Cancer Bats version of So Jealous! Brilliant!

Thanks for writing in,

Ang writes:
Dear Tegan,
What kind of vocal warm-up exercises do you do before a show? Do you run through the entire set during rehearsal/sound check?
Until next time,

Hey Ang!

I do not do any! It’s terrible of me not to do any. But so far so good. I talk A LOT during the day so..I feel like that get’s my vocals warmed up naturally. I also only sing lead half the time on I get a lot of breaks. I feel like if I had to sing a whole set, I’d be retired already. My vocal would give out for sure. That’s why I keep Sara around ;)

And we do not run the entire set in our sound check usually. If we are just starting a tour we do but generally once we hit our stride on tour we only run 3-4 songs from different points in the set. We generally “check” all the instruments, so we’ll be sure to both do a song where we sing, where we play acoustic, where we play electric, where we play keyboards! We try not to use all our energy in sound check. ha.

Thanks for the questions!


Lila writes:
Hi Tegan,
I was wondering how hard it is for you to make ‘new friends’. This might seem like a trite question, but my best friend is a very well known actress in the country I’m from. I hate going out with her because she gets recognized all the time. We’ll be having dinner or be at a show or a bar and people would just stare at her all night and come over for an autograph or picture. She doesn’t mind, she’s used to it, but sometimes it’s really inconvenient (we happen to get into fierce discussions or arguments sometimes and there’s nothing like being interrupted by fans when you’re having a heated debate!). We’ve talked about how hard it is for her to trust people she meets, for she never knows if they just want to talk to her for the fame or because they are really genuine. Do you sometimes feel like people want to hang out or get to know you because you are ‘Tegan from Tegan & Sara’? How do you deal with that?

Hey Lila!

That’s an interesting question/insight. The easy answer is, yes, I do sometimes find it hard to meet new people or make new friends. The more complicated answer is, it’s always been hard for me to make new friends so I don’t just think it’s because some people recognize me or ask for my autograph when I’m out and about. Truthfully, I’ve always been a bit awkward and shy and hard to get to know. I think what I’ve chosen to do for my career has certainly exacerbated that social awkwardness I had growing up but it’s not the source of it! ha. I trust people for the most part. And I generally have good instincts when it comes to new people. I assume the best, always. We’re cautious for the most part these days as we have had intrusions via social networks and outsiders etc, but I like to think that most people are good, and if something is supposed to come of us meeting it will show itself naturally.

Thanks again for writing in,

Fay writes:
Hi, Tegan!
First of all I hope you are doing well and have fun recording your new album! Hurray!
Thank you for all the great music you released so far and for being so visible in the business! There are (unfortunately) not many women who do what you do at your level, and it is great to see as a hopeful little musician and music student. I admire you and Sara’s text and melody work, and how you really play and use your guitars, not just standing holding it, posing and striking a D-chord at the end. – Not that it’s bad, but I prefer people who use their instruments:) Aaaanyways…. :) here we go:Do you use production as a “tool” to express your words, message and meaning of a song? Like in “Knife Going In”, “Like O, Like H”.
Especially in “The Con”, you use a lot of layering, as you do in your demos, and that is really interesting since that’s your original “package”/expression. And how did you (if you) use production as a tool comparing “The Con” to “Sainthood”? It’s interesting how the music can express one thing and the text something completely different like in “Back in Your Head” and “Alligator”(?) In many cases artist gets “developed” and their songs gets totally transformed into what their label (most likely a major) think will sell. And sometimes it might be great, but the original, feeling, meaning of, expression and the idea behind the song is something completely different. It’s great that you take part in the production of your stuff, I think it makes your band raw and one of a kind;) I’m writing a depth study about production on your work and your feedback and insight would help a lot:)
I’ve built a fanbase here in Oslo, and we look forward to your new album and hope you’ll visit Norway sometime, and maybe play too!
P.S. I love your stuff too, not meaning to favor Sara here) he.
Thank you for being positive role models in the business!
Take care!
- Your supporter, Fay (18)

Hi Fay!

Okay, I think I know what you’re asking. I’ll just go for it and hopefully this is what you had in mind:

Sara and I demo our new songs extensively as most T+S fans know. We rarely just track a guitar and vocal and leave it. Typically we’ll layer many ideas on guitar, keyboard, piano, bass as to get our melody, harmony, counter melody ideas in place. Generally we think that if we do this it will help the additional musicians we hire to play with or record on our records to capture the vibe we are looking for. We think of demos as blue prints. I never really day dream about putting out our demos. They are just too raw. Often the demos captures the FIRST time we’ve sung or played something and so … it isn’t really how the song ends up.

In a way we produce our demos to sound like what we HOPE our records will at least emulate. I never want our demos to be THE studio version though. Even with our record The Con, we wanted to attempt to fully capture the ideas we had on our demos, but take them to the next level. We were trying to influence how the drums and bass went down by recording all our guitar and keyboard ideas FIRST. Traditionally bands record drums and bass first. But then the bass + drums inform the rest of the track and we wanted to get away from that.

With Sainthood we wanted to go back to a more traditional path. So we played as a band and allowed the group vibe to inform how the tracks ended up. The Con had been a difficult record to initially tour with because it was so dense and complicated. With Sainthood we were hoping to sound more like a band that had played the record live off the floor, but then over dub over to capture “the studio” experience. Sara and I love hi fi recordings and being in the studio so we experimented a lot on that record.

With the new, as of yet untitled, record we are doing something TOTALLY different again. Which you’ll hear all about..soon!

Good luck with your writing!