Salisbury Press

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 PHOTO BY CHRIS BUCK Tegan and Sara, 7:45 p.m. June 23, Levitt Pavilion, SteelStacks, 101 Founders Drive, Bethlehem PHOTO BY CHRIS BUCK Tegan and Sara, 7:45 p.m. June 23, Levitt Pavilion, SteelStacks, 101 Founders Drive, Bethlehem

Spotlight On: Tegan and Sara making their voices heard

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 by EMILY THIEL Special to The Press in Focus

Tegan and Sara are bringing their headlining tour to Bethlehem, inviting fans for some "Let's Make Things Physical" fun.

Canadian twin sisters, LGBT activists, singer-songwriters and indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara Quin perform at 7:45 p.m. June 23, Levitt Pavilion, SteelStacks, 101 Founders Drive, Bethlehem.

Tegan and Sara's seventh studio album and latest release "Heartthrob" (2013) was listed on the Billboard charts, with the single "Closer."

While they may just be breaking ground in the mainstream music world, the sisters have been writing songs since they were age 15 and released their first album, "Under Feet Like Ours" in 1999. In 2000, Tegan and Sara toured with The Pretenders and Neil Young. Their audience continued to grow when their song "Walking with a Ghost" (2004) was covered by The White Stripes the following year.

Tegan and Sara have taken the right steps in their career to get where they are today and are not stopping there.

The duo has opened for Paramore, fun., The Killers and The Black Keys. Between touring with pop bands and radio airplay, Tegan and Sara's name is out there.

"Fans are finding us through mainstream avenues," Tegan Quin says in a recent phone interview. "Radio has been so awesome for us [and] allowed us to meet new people."

The sisters initially built up a strong following from their home base in Canada.

"There's a sweetness right now," Quin says about their Canadian fans. "People are so thrilled we're doing so well internationally."

She stressed that despite making headway in mainstream pop, the duo is "still candid and available the way we were 10 years ago."

The shift to pop from an indie sound evolved as a natural progression for the duo thanks to producer Greg Kurstin, who has worked with Ellie Goulding, P!nk, Marina and the Diamonds, Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson and Foster the People.

The collaboration pushed Tegan and Sara to a new level.

"There's still a very clear Tegan and Sara voice. Greg [Kurstin] allowed us to step it up a bit," Quin says. Kurstin and the sisters aimed for a sound that was "really fresh, really different."

Despite the light upbeat pop sound, Tegan and Sara "approach music the same way we always have.

"The truth is, I think our audience likes whatever, as long as it's us," Quin says, adding that fans back them for "how genuine we are, what we've created."

The twin sisters, who live on opposite North American coasts, are still able to connect through their songwriting process.

Tegan spends her time in Vancouver and Los Angeles, while Sara is in New York City and Montreal.

"We're really real with each other" [during songwriting], Quin says, recalling when she and her sister would sit in their separate bedrooms writing songs, relying on each other's critiques. They still offer the same feedback for one another, even 3,000 miles away.

Tegan and Sara, who are each in open lesbian relationships, use their platform as celebrities to support LBGT organizations.

"A huge part of our audience is struggling with those issues as young people," Quin says. The sisters urge fans to "specialize your interests to work with people and organizations … close to home."

In concert, it is the "old stuff that [causes] people to melt down." Old favorites, like the title track of "The Con" (2007), brings fans back to the core of why they love Tegan and Sara, and they cannot help but sing along with every lyric.

Playing old favorites that the dedicated fans love brings out the best performances. "Especially when we play ['The Con'] … their faces, and the audience singing along," Quin muses.

For Quin, "Heartthrob" provided a challenge that has allowed the sisters to "really develop ourselves on the road. For me, to be on the stage and to feel challenged after all these years" [makes her appreciate] the new chapter Tegan and Sara are writing."

Tegan and Sara are expected to be backed by a full band for the Bethlehem concert.

Says Quin, "We are young and have a lot of energy. We're so excited to do what we do."