Doubling Up

Twins Tegan and Sara bring separate strengths to their musical partnership.

When they're making music together under the Tegan and Sara banner, identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin are halves of a whole. But they're also individuals -- and according to Tegan, plenty of people have difficulty reconciling this apparent contradiction.

"A lot of times, they treat you as one entity," she notes. "If Sara's in a bad mood, they might say, 'I don't want to bug Tegan and Sara, because they're in a bad mood.' And I'll be like, 'Hello? I have my own brain. I didn't wake up in a bad mood today.'" Trouble is, "It seems like you are in a bad mood if you attack someone for something that doesn't seem like that big of a deal," she concedes. "It can get frustrating."

Fortunately, CDs such as So Jealous, a catchy confessional issued in 2004, provide plenty of opportunities for the Quins to vent, and they definitely take advantage. "Why am I so open telling people about so many extremely important moments in my life?" Tegan asks. "I don't know -- but there's a huge payoff. The more open we are, the more people relate."

Sara and Tegan are twice as nice.
Sara and Tegan are twice as nice.

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With Cake and Gogol Bordello, 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 25, Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, $25, 303-830-8497

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Natives of Calgary, Canada, Tegan and Sara, now in their mid-twenties, were spared many of twindom's most dehumanizing aspects thanks to their mother, a practicing therapist. "When we were little, we'd be sent matching outfits, and my mom would dress us up in the clothes, take a picture, send the picture to the corresponding gift-giver, then donate the gifts they didn't want," Tegan recalls. The tots were eventually put in charge of wardrobe choices, for good or ill. "From the time we were born until we were five, we were absolutely adorable," she maintains. "But from six on, we went through some extremely trashy looks, because we were dressing ourselves."

As teens, Tegan and Sara became enamored of punk rock before heading in the more singer-songwriterly direction that earned them a slot on the 2000 Lilith Fair tour and a record deal with Vapor, an imprint owned in part by fellow Canuck Neil Young. Since then, their music has grown increasingly sophisticated without losing its emotional directness. Take Jealous, which mates melodic guitars and groovy keyboards with effortless harmonies and lyrics such as "Do I cause a new heartbreak to write a new broken song," from the Tegan-penned "You Wouldn't Like Me." Such tunes have been around for a while, but they continue to generate income in unexpected ways. "Five or six times a year, I'll get money directly from fans," Tegan reports. "They'll go, 'I downloaded all your records when I was a student and didn't have any money, but I felt guilty, and I want to pay for them now.'"

Boosters like these will be thrilled by a forthcoming (and highly personal) Tegan and Sara DVD, due in stores within months. In the meantime, the sisters continue to balance personality variations that not everyone sees.

"Sara is a much more independent, introverted person," Tegan says, "whereas I'm very much a people-pleaser who works to get everybody feeling happy. We're really very different people -- believe it or not."

 
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