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When Calgary musicians Tegan & Sara were still in high school

Identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin had been playing music together for over two years when they won a battle of the bands competition in 1998.

Teenage twins were getting noticed for 'wonderful' performances in 1998

Talented twins Tegan and Sara

Digital Archives

23 years ago
2:20
A pair of Calgary high schoolers gets attention for their music in 1998. 2:20

These days, Canadian music fans know the pop band formed by a pair of Calgary identical twins as Tegan & Sara.

But back in April 1998, when local teens mostly concerned themselves with "final exams and graduation," CBC Calgary reporter Brent Kawchuk introduced the sisters to viewers a little differently.

"For 17-year-old twins Sara and Tegan Quin, their thoughts are starting to turn toward a career in music," said Kawchuk as he stood in front of a high school.

You might say they made it. Tegan & Sara's 2007 release The Con will be one of five albums up for discussion in the forthcoming Canada Listens: CBC Music's great music debate. 

'Absolutely wonderful'

Mike Bell, music editor for Calgary's FFWD magazine, said the room had gone silent when the twins began to play at the Garage Wars competition. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)

The Quins, seen singing and playing their instruments together in a casual setting, had begun "writing songs and learning how to play guitar" two and a half years earlier, said Kawchuck. Then they entered Garage Wars, a local battle of the bands.

"We're like two little 17-year-old kids, sitting up there, and saying what we want to say, and we don't have anything to hide behind," said Tegan, who described the experience as "very, very, very intimidating."

Sara said the judges in the contest — which they had won with the highest marks in its seven-year history — had maybe seen "a sparkle ... that can get to be something bigger." 

Mike Bell, a judge of the competition and music editor at Fast Forward, a Calgary weekly, said he'd been instantly won over by the pair.

"I'm not really known for liking things," said Bell. "But I see nothing but potential. They're absolutely wonderful."

In 1999 Tegan & Sara released their first album, Under Feet Like Ours. According to CBC Radio's The Next Chapter, their ninth album dropped in 2019 — the same year they published their memoir, called High School.

High School is a memoir by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin. (CBC, Simon & Schuster)

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