Tegan and Sara on coming out, twin sisterhood and hitting the big time
In a new memoir and album, the Canadian indie pop duo explores how their teen years shaped them
Originally published on September 24, 2019
Reliving your teenage years isn't what most people would call an enjoyable experience, but for Tegan and Sara, it's proven to be enough motivation for a memoir and a brand new album.
The Canadian indie pop duo's new book, High School (out Sept. 24), looks back on their formative years as the setting for their coming out story. It's about finding their music, their identity and what laid the foundation for their work as LGBTQ ambassadors.
Meanwhile the album, Hey, I'm Just Like You (out Sept. 27), reimagines early demos they wrote as teenagers.
"I definitely think that there was a vulnerability and there was a directness to the music that I think you lose when you become a public figure," Tegan told q host Tom Power. "I feel like our early music was under-appreciated, and I'm very honest about this. I think that we were written off because we were young and we were girls."
Coming of age in the '90s, the duo said they were uncomfortable in their skin and remember often feeling isolated because they were gay.
WATCH | Tegan and Sara perform Please Help Me:
"I just had an overwhelming anxiety about it," said Sara. "When I go back and I look at that person at 15, I don't think it's an over-dramatization to say that I really was distressed."
One of the challenges they faced was a lack of positive queer role models to look up to.
"As a small kid, I remember one of my first introductions to the idea of homosexuality — this is going to be really dark — but it was Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer who killed gay men. I didn't know what homosexuality was unless I was hearing about it on the news."
Despite being very close and having a 20-year career together, the identical twin sisters said that they were partly driven to write their first memoir to show how their personal stories and experiences have differed from each other's.
WATCH | Tegan and Sara perform Hello:
"We really did want to dispel a lot of the myths and imagined projections that people put on us — us as individuals, as Tegan and Sara, but also as twins and as women," said Tegan.
"I think this assumption that we were each other's best friend, you know, we were both queer, we found comfort in each other because we were able to confide in each other."
"We wanted to talk about the complex nature of being an identical twin, of sharing your identity, of desperately needing to create an independent world and to be your own individual person. And that all started in childhood. Sara and I, we were unique."
You can catch Tegan and Sara on tour, with shows throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. until November.
Download our podcast or click 'Listen' near the top of this page to hear the full extended interview with Tegan and Sara where they talk more about coming of age, coming out and getting their start at a Calgary talent competition called Garage Warz.
Written by Vivian Rashotte. Interview with Tegan and Sara produced by Mitch Pollock.