Interview with Sara Quin

 
 

AE: Definitely. The last time I talked to Tegan was about a year ago right before you started recording, and she was saying that you had talked about making an album that was less about relationships and love, but when I first heard Sainthood, I was like, "It’s all about relationships and love!" Were you trying to get away from it and just couldn’t?
SQ:
Myself, personally, I never really listened to music that wasn’t about personal experiences and romance and love and break-ups and heartbreak — all that sort of stuff. To not write about those things would be — if there is a certain situation that inspired me, I would never not write about something other than love, but because this is the outlet for that part of me. I never personally made a mission to write about something else.

The thing I definitely feel — the perspective of where you’re writing from — I’ve always written from the perspective of being in a relationship. And with this album, there was definitely a part of me that wanted to remove myself, maybe, from the scenario and think more about the end of relationships, in general.

You know, my parents’ divorce — I was thinking a lot about that when we first started writing for this album. I’d just turned 27, and 27, 28 was the age my parents were when they were divorced and I can really remember them around that time. That was really interesting to me that I was getting out of a long-term relationship and starting to think about what kind of person am I, am I going to be this sort of relationship person who cycles through and gets in a new relationship?

I guess I kind of realized I was the kind of person that wasn’t going to find my soul mate, or whatever, and then be with them forever. I was thinking from that perspective a lot on this album.

AE: Your fanbase is so dedicated that they know who you’re dating, who your ex-girlfriend is. Is it ever weird to you that people are so into your personal lives and possibly read into things?
SQ:
It’s not necessarily weird. It’s only really happened for me with one, my one main relationship. It was such a public relationship for me — public in that Emy was so important to the band, you know, she was doing the artwork, art design and the stage and was on tour with me.

We were a different band then. We were playing to a couple hundred people a night. It didn’t bug me to be sort of transparent about what was going on in my personal life. She was my personal life and she was on the road with me.

When that relationship dissolved, it was uncomfortable for me to know that it had to happen in a public way. Even though we are still so close and such good friends, it was awkward to be feeling really private about what’s happening and people are asking you about it.

But I mean, it’s still such a small — I mean, I know a lot of our fans talk about it or whatever, but the majority of people don’t care and don’t talk about it. I mean it’s weird how certain people will ask in certain publications, but, like, Spin or Rolling Stone haven’t.

Sara and Emy

AE: Right, because there’s a certain dynamic with your lesbian fanbase versus typical indie rock music listeners who don’t care who you’re dating. And now you’re playing these huge venues, so it’s got to be crazy to see a sea of baby dykes and 30-year-old dudes wearing Tegan and Sara t-shirts.
SQ:
Yeah, I definitely think we have a wide range of people drawn to the band and the music. It’s interesting. My first experience with touring was, I guess it has been almost 10 years now, but we toured with Neil Young and you want to talk about a wide, diverse spectrum of people: From some extremely devoted, almost to a fanatical degree, to the sort of casual Neil Young listener. Young people, old people, rich people, poor people.

I think if you’re the type of musician who aspires to connect to a lot of people, at some point you start to see how many different kinds of characters will be attracted to your shows.

It’s the same with us — I’ve certainly seen the audience grow and change from a sexuality perspective and gender perspective, but also a genre perspective. Some people are more interested in our music, some people are interested in who we’re dating, but I don’t think the people who are super, super interested in who we’re dating or what we’re up to in our personal lives represent the majority of people.

And that makes sense to me, because I think that’s with every band — there’s always that group of people that’s taking it a little bit too far. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it tends to be more awkward. If you don’t want to have to shut people out or set boundaries with people, that doesn’t come easily with me — to have to be like, "That’s inappropriate." We pretty much don’t have to do that very often, which is great.

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