Tegan and Sara, Musicians


Tegan : We’re twins from Alberta, Canada, but right now Sara lives between New York and Montreal, and I’m living in Vancouver.

Sara : We'll be staying on a pretty civilized tour bus until the end of our tour in October. Our new album— Heartthrob—came out in January, and we’ve only been touring since last August, so we’re not that tired. It feels good—thank god we don’t have to tour in a van anymore. We spent years in vans, but now we share a bus, so we can still have a little space and get organized.

Tegan : Also, we get space from each other when we’re not on the road—we live in different cities, we have different interests. Because we’re twins, there's so much unspoken stuff. It’s like being married to someone for 25 years—when couples look at each other and they already know what the other is thinking. But we have separate taste in books, reading materials, and music, and that has influenced our music in subtle ways. It's funny—we used to write separately, but when we started collaborating with other artists, we suddenly learned how to write music together. Our old sound is like a Sara record and a Tegan record smushed together, but Heartthrob is the best example of us getting along musically that I’ve heard yet.

Sara : We do have our own distinct personal styles, even though we share a rolling closet on the road. We don’t share day-to-day clothes, but we do share stage and promotional clothes, because we get so bored with our own. [Laughs]

Tegan: We hover around the same planet, stylistically, but maybe Sara goes left and I go right. Sara describes me as a bit more sloppy and casual but maybe more on the 'rock' end of things—like a leather jacket over a t-shirt—whereas she irons everything and can be found in a skinny heel, an adult blouse, and very nice pants. [Laughs] There’s an amazing company called Wild Fang that’s sort of like Urban Outfitters for tomboys that we get a lot of stuff from.

Sara: Our influences come in waves, too. We both like to be a little androgynous, but we’re ripping it off people like Annie Lennox and Patti Smith.

Tegan: Our makeup also walks this fine line between being tomboy and being feminine. Most of the time, I think people wear too much makeup. Our mom used to tell us to go as long as we could without putting makeup on, because it’s so hard on your skin. But we’re in a business where we’re constantly on stage or having our photo taken. We don’t want to alienate our young audience by being too made up, but we understand how to work our assets. After fourteen years of having our makeup done, we’ve learned a few things. [Laughs]

Sara: I really try to keep it as basic as possible—cover up, powder, a little bit of blush, mascara, and eyeliner. I never used to wear eyeliner, but my girlfriend wears it and she looks great, so I put it on every once in a while. She looks confused when I wear it. I think she likes the idea that she’s more of a girl than I am, but I don’t want her to repress the idea that I can look feminine. I use Studio Sculpt SPF 15 Foundation from MAC in a shade that I’m sure is almost albino, and then for powder, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium. If I’m going on stage, I’ll put on way more powder on than a normal person should, because I don’t want the sweat to show. I like MAC blush, too, to give me a little color. On stage, I don’t usually wear mascara or eyeliner since it can get so messy. It might look like a purposefully smoky eye from far away, but backstage you just look like a whore. [Laughs] When I do wear it, I like CoverGirl Mascara in Very Black and I just bought Rimmel Scandaleyes eyeliner.

Tegan: I am all trial-and-error when it comes to my standby products. To cover up my dark circles, I like Maybelline Cover Stick Concealer in Medium Beige, then I put on Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer. I can also use it on my t-zone, then fade it out, and cover it with Maybelline Dream Matte Powder in Medium Beige. Our favorite makeup artist in LA suggested the rest of the things I use. She told me that all I needed was a good gloss, a good mascara— L’Oreal Telescopic in Blackest Black and a good blush. With that stuff and my black-circle regimen, I’m fresh-faced! Sara and I actually have natural eyeshadow, so that’s it for my everyday look. And on stage, we have a lot of intimate moments where they bring the lights up on us, so I feel like if we had a lot of makeup on, we’d look terrifying.

Sara: For skincare, we both use Cetaphil to wash our bodies, faces, and to moisturize, because you can buy it anywhere and we both have very sensitive skin. You could put Cetaphil on a baby.

Tegan: Our bus is rigged with hair dryers and hair products, too. We have a natural curl in our hair, but Sara blow-dries and brushes hers down so it’s nice and gets it cut perfectly. I might blow-dry mine until it’s maybe half-wet and then that’s the end of my hair routine.

Sara: Here's a story: we cut our hair short when we were five. Our mom was very foxy and very fashion and she couldn’t believe what we were interested in. She wanted us to be all hair and clothes and whatever, but she finally gave up and let us cut our hair. I look at pictures and I’m like, ‘Mom, you should have seen the signs!’ We wanted to be our dad desperately. We had one earring each, like he did, and short hair, like mullets... I truly believe a lot of gender identity is about chemical impulses and recognizing almost on a subconscious level what you see in yourself. My dad resembled that [vision] more closely, so I wanted to look like he did. As we got older, I think for social reasons and for comfort, we naturally gravitated toward more traditional, long hair. We passed as normal, average straight kids with boyfriends and everything. But once we were 18, we were like, ‘OK, fuck, we’re out of school now, so we can just be exactly who we want to be.’

Tegan: We graduated, we were playing music, we were empowered, and we started recognizing things in ourselves. Aesthetically, we started swinging away from trying to emulate the male figures in our lives and toward appreciating that our mom is a babe, and we realized that we could push those assets in ourselves to be attractive to both women and men. Our mom’s sense of fashion was so cool and cutting edge. We started to capture the other side of it. I mean this so sincerely—I’m not afraid of our being gay affecting our audience in any way. I think we’ve come to terms with it, both professionally and personally. It’s not even so much about sexuality as it is how you present yourself in terms of your gender identity and your sex. For Sara and I, we started maximizing our audience by connecting with them, being on social media, talking with our fans. I don’t want people to idolize me so much as I want them to connect and think we could be friends. I want you to walk around and listen to my music and think, 'This person is me.'

—as told to ITG

Tegan (R) and Sara (L) Quin photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on July 23, 2013. Download their latest album, Heartthrob, here.