Tegan and Sara Reflect on Their Careers in Memoir “Under My Control” – SheKnows

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Tegan and Sara Quin have been making music together since they were teens in the ‘90s, so it’s no wonder the sisters are slowing down a bit in their 40s.

The prolific indie-rock artists and LGBTQ advocates, both 43, remember entering this new decade during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. That ushered in their 40s “in a strange way that, you know, wasn’t exactly casual,” recalls Sara. In 2022, Tegan and Sara left Warner Bros. Records, their longtime record label, for the indie outfit Mom + Pop. “And then I also became a parent at 42,” she continues. “So far, at least for me, there’s something really significant about how much foundational change has happened.” 

Naturally, these personal and professional shifts prompted Sara to reevaluate her work-life balance. “I think in your 20s and 30s, time is on your side…you’re just kind of excited to be ripping through life and doing what you’re doing,” she explains. “And whereas now with my 40s, I’m like, ‘Let’s slow down.’ I’ve really loved my 40s, but it’s definitely no joke. Like, here we are.”

Tegan isn’t a parent, but she echoes her twin sister’s sentiment. “There’s a lot of searching in the first couple of decades [of your life], a lot of strife and tumult,” she says. “And then you get to your 40s. And as Sara said, you take a breather; you slow down a little bit. My 40s are like, I need to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I need to think more about what my life should be in its second half rather than, like, freaking out through my 20s and 30s.”

Granted, Tegan and Sara have kept plenty busy over the past few years. In 2022, the Grammy-nominated duo debuted Crybaby, their 10th studio album and first with Mom + Pop Music; they toured the album in the latter half of 2023.

Last month, they also released Under My Control, an Audible Originals audio-memoir interspersed with new recordings of classic Tegan and Sara cuts. It’s the latest in a series of autobiographical projects for the Quin sisters, who previously penned a memoir about their high school days. The book, High School, was later adapted into an Amazon Prime Video series.

“We’ve been in a place the last handful of years where we’ve been looking back a lot,” says Tegan. “And I think some artists don’t want to do that because there’s still so much ageism in our business, especially for women.” But she and Sara have had a blast re-releasing older songs and watching them reach new audiences — not unlike Taylor Swift, a fellow music-industry disruptor. (They’re big fans; at the moment, Tegan is on an “Anti-Hero” kick.)

Given Tegan and Sara’s decades-spanning catalog, selecting which songs to re-record was no easy feat. First, they chose the narrative thread for the project, which helped tremendously, says Tegan. Their cornerstone? “Songs or moments in our career that allowed us to shift focus or to change directions, and do things that surprised people.”

And surprise people, they have. When Tegan and Sara began their career in the late ‘90s and early aughts, they were two of the few openly gay artists in their sphere. 

“To be stuck in this genre of indie-rock music, where it was really, really unusual to be talking about yourself being gay, and then to be young women in a predominantly male, straight, cis genre, it was really challenging,” Sara remembers. At times, “it really felt like we were the only people who were pushing back against some of the stereotypes and kinds of discrimination that we were experiencing.” 

She recalls being faced with a “very binary choice”: “Don’t say anything and just ignore it, or take it on. And then it actually becomes part of your identity. You’re the band that has to always be talking about these injustices.” She and Tegan chose the latter — a decision that has helped move the needle in their industry. “I love that we were able to do that and sort of change that narrative,” she adds. “But, you know, it was a pretty big burden.”

Thanks in part to celebrities like Tegan and Sara, our culture at large has also become more accepting of LGBTQ+ people. However, there’s still room for improvement — especially for LGBTQ+ women, who face more socioeconomic disadvantages than their male counterparts. 

Enter the Tegan and Sara Foundation, the Quin sisters’ namesake nonprofit. Founded in 2016, the organization raises awareness and funding for causes benefiting LGBTQ+ women.

“[The foundation] was a huge part of Sarah and I’s second half of our career journey,” Tegan says. “Like, okay, we’re done panicking through the first part of our career, where we’re just trying to make a name for ourselves and establish ourselves. And now we’re into a part of our career where we have the ear of a lot of important people, and we have a platform and a decent-sized audience.”

“Obviously, the LGBTQ+ community is super important to us — not just because we’re members of it, but also because they’ve been such a support to us over our two decades in the biz,” she explains. 

So, rest assured, “slowing down” doesn’t mean Tegan and Sara are out of commission. In some ways, they’re doing more with their platform, and their sprawling catalog, than ever.

Next spring, they also plan to hit the road for an acoustic tour centered on their first album, 2002’s If It Was You. Although the album has been out for more than 20 years, they’ve never played the whole thing live and start-to-finish. “That doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop making new things,” adds Tegan. “But I think it’s been really exciting to revisit some of the stuff from the past because it’s [still] so relevant.”



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