Interview with Sara Quin

on The first thing I wanted to ask you about is your new video for “Hell.” It seems like as soon you as put it out, your fans were wondering what it meant and what you were trying to say. What was the idea behind it?

Sara Quin: Well the cardboard cutout of the blown-up pictures, we had used that theme on our photo shoot for the album, and we had talked a lot, conceptually, about Sainthood as a title, and we looked up old frescos and sort of religious paintings.

So we talked about these themes for album artwork and photo shoots, and when we approached Jamie Travis, who directed the video, he asked us for some treatments and a couple of ideas we had been thinking about.

One of things we sent to him was a photo in which we had taken a blown up photo and popped the head out and put Tegan’s head through it. We were using it as sort of a photographic way to represent the idea that you’re not yourself, a surface version of yourself and what is really happening and what you really are behind the facade.

AE: So what’s up with that creepy figure in the mirror?

SQ: I think it’s just that we needed a person of conflict. Jamie Travis was the director of “Back in Your Head” and I don’t know why he came up with this figure, specifically, but one of the things we had approached him with in the treatment for “Back In Your Head,” when we did The Con, about this dream — most musicians have this dream or some version of this — where you’re about to perform or you’re performing and there’s no one there, or there’s like one person there. People are draining out of the club, and you know you’re doing a bad job. He had sort of run with this idea of the figure. So I think, thematically, it goes back to this nightmarish idea of the covered observer.

Behind the scenes of “Hell”

AE: Your videos always seem to have some sort of mystery or deeper element. Do you think you’d ever do the typical sort of pop video where you’re playing the song and there’s a dramatic storyline with actors doing what it is you’re singing about?

SQ: It’s never been something that I wanted to do. Personally, I find it really strange to have other people in our videos. I’ve never really understood that. I grew up on sort of the classic music video, which was always about the person. Like Madonna videos, Bruce Springsteen videos — sometimes they would interact with other people, but there was rarely a narrative happening.

I don’t love performance videos for our band … I love when a band translates onto film what they do as a band. I just feel like with Tegan and I, I can’t see how we’d do that in a captivating way. That’s not to say that we’re not captivating, we’re just not crazy — I wouldn’t want to hang upside down or anything.

We have a tendency to take it to a quirky sort of narrative level where we’re just like doing strange things and looking strange. I think it’s visually arresting to have the two of us. It’s hard to not want to play with those ideas.

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