Identical twins and openly gay musicians Tegan and Sara Quin fully embraced their pop sensibilities for their latest release, Heartthrob, which came out this past January.
The result: an album brimming with infectious hooks and a wider, commercial appeal that still hints to the Canadian siblings’ indie-rock roots.
The twins will perform material from Heartthrob, their seventh studio album, when they open for fun. at the CFE arena in Orlando on Thursday, Sept. 19.
The move to a slicker, radio-friendly sound was a conscious decision, said Sara Quin. Aiming for a product that was more “glossy” and had “a big sound,” they selected a more pop-oriented producer, Greg Kurstin, who’s worked with artists such as Kelly Clarkson and Pink.
“We decided to move away from records that sounds like shit,” Quin said. “Now we want to make records that sound like a million bucks.”
She rattled off a list of her biggest pop influences: Cyndi Lauper. Taylor Swift. Kate Bush. Phoenix.
“Making pop music doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be good,” she added.
The twins were never concerned about alienating their fans with their new sound, and simply focused on putting out a better product.
“I have a bigger fear of being irrelevant than of trying something new,” Quin said. “It’s so fucking cool to see how our fans are embracing it.”
Heartthrob debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 3 and topped Billboard’s Top Alternative Albums and Top Rock Albums charts. The twins have released two singles from the album, "Closer" and "When I Was a Fool."
Now that they’re armed with a new sound, they set out on their current tour with fun. aiming to widen their fan base.
“It’s a massive tour and it’s really exciting for us,” Quin said. “There’s a lot of exposure being on a big tour like this. It gets us out there and it’s great marketing for us.”
But don’t think the band is selling out, she said. “We only select bands if we really believe in what they’re doing. It’s win-win. We’re not just trying to pimp ourselves in front of a new audience.”
Quin said they had been friends with members of the band fun. for a while when the idea to tour together came up during a casual conversation last year.
“fun. had just put out a record and they were blowing up,” she said. “We were talking and said, wouldn’t it be cool to go on the road together?”
The sisters, who grew up in Calgary, have been writing music together since they were 15. They released their first album, the folk-leaning Under Feet Like Ours, in 1999 after being discovered by Neil Young’s manager Elliot Roberts, who signed them to his Vapor Records.
“Elliot has wonderful insight and is integrity driven,” Quin said. “He taught us that in this industry we should create a family around us. He was a real mentor to us, and helped us navigate [the industry] after our first album came out. He put us on the path towards becoming the musicians we are today.”
They then gravitated towards the indie rock scene that thrived in Montreal in the early 2000s and boasted artists such as Arcade Fire, Feist and Stars.
“It was a fully energized scene that deeply influenced us,” Quin said. “Our early records reflect that.”
The lesbian sisters have long been out to their fans as well as vocal supporters of LGBT rights: posing for the NOH8 campaign, speaking out in favor of marriage equality, calling out artists who write homophobic lyrics and contributing to the “It Gets Better” campaign.
And in case you were wondering, the title of their new album is actually a tongue-in-cheek poke at their heartthrob status among their lesbian fans.
“It’s just so funny to us,” Quin said.
Find more information about the Sept. 19 concert here.
A portion of ticket sales from the tour will benefit The Ally Coalition, a partnership created by the band fun. and designer Rachel Antonoff to encourage those in the music, fashion and entertainment communities to support LGBTQ equality.