Canadian twins Tegan and Sara started as an indie folk duo, but these days they’re highlighting a more pop sensibility. You likely heard them singing the lead vocals on the hit “Lego Movie” theme song “Everything is Awesome.” On their new album, “Love You To Death,” they apply catchy hooks and harmonies to a range of topics – from queer themes to their own relationship.
Speaking of the latter, here they are to present a party playlist.
Sara: This is Sara, and I, actually, don’t have dinner parties that often.
Tegan: Why not? What’s wrong with you?
Sara: Well, I don’t know. I mean, for a while, I was living in New York, and it’s like, there’s no space for a dinner party.
Tegan: Oh, no. The podcast is over.
Sara: I’m like, what would it be like to have a dinner party?
Mykki Blanco – “Highschool Never Ends”
Sara: Right now, I’m really obsessed with this song by Mykki Blanco called “Highschool Never Ends.”
I actually heard it when we were premiering one of our songs on Zane Lowe’s radio show in Los Angeles. It was playing in the background, and I asked the engineer, I said, “Oh, what is this song that’s playing?!?” It sort of has a real melancholy feeling. And it just sounds fresh, like something from the future.
One thing that I am realizing in my mid-thirties is that I have a really different take on what happened to me in high school. I think my experience of high school, I would’ve told you after high school that it was bad, but I think that there was actually quite a lot of character building.
And, although, you know, there were times where we were bullied, and there were certainly social situations that were traumatizing and difficult, they also challenged us to think for ourselves. So, I find this song very interesting because it’s obviously a very adult perspective on high school.
Tegan and I have such a different vibe. I think people sort of imagine us having really similar lives or similar apartments. And actually, recently, someone asked us if we live together and if we have bunk beds, and I was like, “We’re 35-year-old women!”
Shura – “What’s It Gonna Be?”
Tegan: My track is very upbeat, and I’m picking an incredible artist named Shura, and the song is called “What’s It Gonna Be?” It kind of reminds me of all my favorite things from the ’80s and early ’90s.
Tegan: She has this uncanny ability to pair really deep, sad lyrics with upbeat production. There’s a line in the song like, “If you let me down, let me down slow.” And there’s just something kind of just heart-wrenching about the acceptance of this statement. And, yeah, it’s, like, paired with this really great feeling music.
For almost a week now, I put it on every night while I’m getting ready for bed, and I just love it. I don’t know why. It just gives me such a good feeling, but it’s kind of really sad.
Sara: Tegan’s more of an organized person. She would have food out, and there would be a whole schedule. And I think I’d probably already be a half a bottle of wine in, and then I’d be like, “Should we eat? What happens next?”
Tegan: No, nightmare! You’re the person’s house who I don’t go to dinner parties because I’m like, “They’re just not good at it. I’m too hungry. I always have to go to McDonald’s on the way home!”
Sara: Oh, my God! What a diva. Don’t worry, I’ll have lots of almonds for you, Tegan.
Stromae – “Papaoutai”
Sara: I’m going to pick the third song at our dinner party, and it is an artist from Belgium*, Stromae, and the song is called “Papaoutai,” and it’s actually, weirdly enough, a song that I discovered at a dinner party in Montreal at a friend’s house.
Sara: Maybe we haven’t even served food yet.
Tegan: Oh, my God! I hope we’ve eaten.
Sara: No, no, no! Now we’re just, like, we’re in cocktail land. We’re probably, like, getting a little bit tipsy, and I want people feeling — I don’t know — almost celebratory. Even though it’s sort of got, like, a really intense message, lyrically, it’s in French. Most of my dinner guests aren’t even going to know what the heck it is!
I think the chorus actually just translates to, “Father, where are you?” But it’s like, a jam! Like a real jam. And I just think the words actually just feel nice, even if you don’t know what they are.
Tegan and Sara – “White Knuckles”
Tegan: I have to pick a song off our new album? Oh, that’s so exciting, OK.
Sara: What is it going to be?
Tegan: I think that at this dinner party, I would probably play a song called “White Knuckles” off of our new record.
Sara: Maybe it could be, like, with “Papaoutai,” you know, it’s about his father, so maybe we’d be discussing our relationship.
Tegan: Our relationship to each other, yeah.
Sara: Because the song is about our relationship.
Tegan: That’s right. So, I could see it fitting in. I could casually be like, “Oh, well, Sara wrote this song called ‘White Knuckles,’ and when we were in the studio, she revealed that it was about our relationship and some of the harder times in our band.” And then I would put it on and I wouldn’t feel like a total jerk.
*[Ed. note: the initial cut of this interview made it appear as though Sara misidentified Stromae as a French artist. However, she appropriately identified him as a Belgian artist and we have corrected that edit in the audio and transcript.]