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Ask Tegan – The What the Hell Took So Long Edition

Thank you for your patience in waiting for us to post the latest Ask Tegan. It’s us, not Tegan. To submit your question for Tegan, please email us at teganandsara.org-at-gmail.com

Date: June 2013
Author: Tegan Quin
Publication: teganandsara.org
Headline: The What the Hell Took So Long Edition – Ask Tegan

Hannah writes:
I have recently started dating someone who lives far away from me, I know you have been dating someone for awhile so I was wondering if you have any tips for long distance relationships? Is it difficult to date someone and be in a band? Do you like to have them come out on the road with you?
Thanks so much.
Hannah

Hey Hannah,

First off, I TOTALLY know the struggles of dating long distance! I know exactly what you’re going through right now. I have dated multiple people long distance. Also, being in a band is kinda like being long distance all the time. The big thing is communication. You can’t over communicate (telling each other every detail of your day in real time OR at the end of the day) because it will make your relationship stale and repetitive. You need to find a balance to how and when and why you communicate. Long distance also means establishing a strong foundation and social circle to support you. If you rely on one person (even if they live in the same city as you) for everything you’re just setting yourself up to overwhelm, underwhelm or be disappointed. And lastly, keep things fresh by meeting in the middle, have date nights over the computer, sending letters in the mail and allowing the distance to feel like a privledge rather than a burden. Good luck! Oh and yes, I like having my partner visit me on the road. But the key with that is not having them stay too long. It’s important that the people in my life that I love (including my partner) have their own purpose and passions. Don’t expect your partner to give up their life for you. And you shouldn’t have to either! That’s another piece of advice! ha. Good luck for real this time!

-Tegan

Bonnie writes:
Hey Tegan!
You guys have spoken before about how the success in your career has been a bit more gradual having chosen to go the more independent route and stay true to yourselves. I was just wondering how guys found the inspiration/motivation to keep going in the early days when you didn’t quite have the success or the following you have now.
Thanks so much, I love you guys, you really inspire me.

Hey Bonnie!

We actually talk about this a lot around the water cooler back stage! ha. We seem crazy to me now, looking back. I don’t really truly know how we stayed on this path so long. There were some dark points for sure. But our inspiration back then was the forward motion of our youth. Meaning…we were young! We didn’t have anything to compare our success or lack there of to. So we were just..going with the flow. Each new city, show, tour, year, record etc was an adventure. Even though it was hard…we had no other dreams to speak of and so we just put everything we had into this dream. Also, when you’re young your standards are lower. Having a good show back then just meant there was a stage, a hotel and a bit of money left over with at the end of the night for dinner. Our first few records were literally like a road trip gone long. And in between tours we got to write music for a living. So whatever demons we had to battle by being on the road, slogging away trying to make a go at this career were over come by joy and satisfaction of being creative. Hope this answered your question!

Thanks for writing!

-Tegan

Sarah writes:
Hello Tegan,
I’m about to graduate college in the spring, but I’ve recently realized that music IS and will continue to be the home of my heart. So, it may be stupid, but I aspire to be a professional musician after graduating. I tried writing all summer, but I’m having such a hard time writing something that I like. I feel others’ music so much more than my own (namely, yours and Sara’s). So my question is, how do you and Sara prompt the inspiration to come? What is your writing process like, and what kind of mind-set do you place yourselves in when you want to write something so heartfelt and relateable? Do the lyrics come first, or the instrumentals?
Being such a feeling person, I know I have what it takes to write, but it’s as if I just can’t extract it. What is the hardest part for you?
Thanks so much,
A very desperate Sarah

Hi Sarah,

Well. This is a tough one for me to answer. I don’t know that I have a grasp (even after 18 years) on WHERE the inspiration comes from. I know it comes from my life, my experiences, my feelings etc. But I don’t know what sparked the passion inside of me to create. Each time I finish a song I know full well that I may never feel the urge to do it again. But a day later, or a week later, or a month later…the feeling returns. It’s like an itch. I just have to scratch. I tend to start with keyboard or guitar. I work on a chord progression until I feel like I have something inspiring to sing to. Often I’ll work on a transition between verse and chorus and then starting humming a melody. Around this point I generally record whatever it is I’m working on and then loop it in Logic and start singing to it. Usually I find a melody quite quickly and start drafting words. I usually work for 3-4 hours on something, walk away, return a few hours later and put another 4-6 hours in. I layer keyboards, re structure the song, add a bridge, change the words, record more instruments, take it all away, start again. Then I sleep on it. The next…I start over again, or re approach sections. Then I usually take it BACK to the acoustic guitar and see if the song still feels good all stripped down. If it does..I send it to Sara for feedback. The hardest part for me in all of this is just getting started. It’s like a muscle. You have to use it for it to work well. So. My advice would be to just write every day. Record something every day. You don’t have to love everything you make. But if you want to be successful at your art you have to train yourself to create. Get past the resistance. Good luck!

-Tegan

Jake writes:
Aloha Tegan:
My name is Jake aka DJ SMOOK and live in Maui, Hawaii. I’m not too sure if you ever got fan mail from anyone in Hawaii, but I would like to send a very warm Aloha to you and the rest of the Tegan and Sara crew! Your band Tegan and Sara totally rocks and LOVE your music! I’ve been a fan of the band ever since I listened to the track you wrote with Tiesto. Thank you for the wonderful music you present to us. I have a couple of questions to ask the both of you if it is ok o do so.
1) I’ve been hearing rumors going around Maui and O’ahu from people about you folks doing a possible concert here in 2013. Are you folks considering doing a concert here in Hawaii?
2) If you folks do add Hawaii to the list, what islands would you chose to perform them on?
Your fans here in Hawaii would LOVE to see you have a concert or two here! I would certainly love to attend a Tegan and Sara concert. Jaime AKA Wojo4Hitz tells me that your live concerts are amazing and would like to experience it here in Hawaii. Please consider doing a concert here in 2013. If not I’ll try and make it to your Tulsa, Oklahoma concert in March of next year!
Much respect and Aloha:
-Jake Smookler
@DJSMOOK

Hi Jake!

Great to meet you via mail! First off, I LOVE Hawaii! I have been to the big Island and to Maui. Both were incredible. Some of the best week of my life. I would LOVE to live there. But likely I’ll have to just do with visiting! ha.

We would LOVE to play in Hawaii. We have no official tour dates booked yet, but we’re working on it!

Thank you so much for your letter. Good luck with your DJ’ing!

-Tegan

Aldana writes:
First of all, I’m excited to hear the new record. And I hope to see you in concert someday, because I haven’t yet (I’m from Argentina).
Are YOU guys anxious about the release of Heartthrob? Are we gonna see some making-the-record stuff like with The Con?
Thanks for answering and I hope you do a world tour soon so I can see you play live here. It’d be a dream come true! :)
xoxo,
Aldana

Dear Aldana,

Thank you for your letter. We sure hope to get to Argentina at some point on Heartthrob. It’s one of our dream countries to tour! Hopefully we will see you there if we do!

Second, yes we were a bit nervous to release Heartthrob. But based on the fan response so far, we’re not really nervous anymore. We’re on the eve of the release and it feels very exciting. We trust that our fans hear the depth and passion of this record through all the fancy production! And seeing these songs live will transform even the most stubborn old fans! Ha!

Lastly, we didn’t really do much movie making/filming while we were making Heartthrob. Partly because we recorded the record with so many different producers and with so many different musicians, in different studios, over such a long time. It was a big disjointed so we didn’t have a consistent vision while we were recording. We were also very focused on the recording. So instead we set up the cameras in the car and made Carpool Confessional. And took photos of course. Sorry that we don’t have more in store for all of you about the “making of” the record. But we do intend on making more videos of our touring and behind the scenes!

Thank you for writing! See you soon hopefully!

-Tegan