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festivals

Tegan and Sara: The Calgary Sister Act Comes Home

By Ryan Duncan

Though Calgary natives Tegan and Sara Quin have been filling concert halls and dominating college radio with their punk rock attitude and folk pop sound,  you might not have heard their music. They’ve played for audiences across the U.S., Canada and Australia, are performers in the 2010 resurrection of the all-female music festival Lilith Fair, and have just released their sixth studio album, The Sainthood.

We talk to Tegan about the double standards for female indie bands, working with DJ Tiesto, and being a gay role model.

THE NEW ALBUM

WC: There is an obvious change in your sound on The Sainthood, what inspired you to take a more pop approach?

TQ: When we first started we had to be very economical. Our first records reflected our band at the time, we had to record music to sell tour dates and hit the road.

Our style of song writing hasn’t changed, but our ability to adapt, change and add things has. Ten years, and several records later we are more confident and although it was not always intentional, we emulate the things we like to listen to. We are creating our image with every new record, and it’s important to create music that people can relate to–when I listen to music on the radio now it doesn’t reflect me or my friends. I grew up in the ’80s listening to Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper.

MUSICAL ARMAGEDDON

WC: What is the best part about performing at music festivals?

TQ: That depends on the type of festival. The concept of Lilith Fair is incredible. As a feminist it’s amazing to see a group of women taking over the main stage. We just got back from a festival tour in Europe, and although we had a lot of fun, it was pandemonium. Thousands of people, all kinds of weather and liquor—people get so fucking unhinged and crazy, it’s like Armageddon with music.

DOUBLE STANDARDS

WC: Do you think there is still a double standard for women in the music industry?

TQ: It has always been there. There is no shortage of indie rock boys, but the women tend to be unheard of. There are some amazingly talented and intelligent women out there, but they are still half naked trying to sell records. I used to wonder how we would ever make it, there was no way I was going to be able to put on high heels and sell sex in order to be heard. I mean, Beyonce’s a babe, I can’t compete with that.

We get lots of press and very little radio play. That is why I say we are the most famous band you’ve never heard.

WORKING WITH DJ TIESTO

WC: You and Sara are featured on Tiesto’s track “Feel it in My Bones.” How did your collaboration with Tiesto come about?

TQ: We first worked with Tiesto for the “Back in Your Head” remix, we ended up performing with him at a festival. His tour later brought him through Vancouver and he told us that he was going to be making a dance record featuring artists that weren’t in that genre. We are always up for experimenting with different kinds of music; it’s great to play for a different audience so we were in for that.

GAY ROLE MODELS

WC: How do you feel about your sexuality being a common topic in the media?

TQ: Well 10 years ago, the perception of society was to not talk about our sexuality, it was too “racy” for local press. But somewhere between 2002 and 2004 it seemed to be the only thing we were being asked about. We are both very proud to be role models, and if we are helping it to be ‘not as hard’ to be gay for our audience, what’s the problem? The fact is I have been criticized for not talking about it, and for talking about it too much, it’s weird, it’s not like wrote the article that I am being quoted in, you know?

HITTING THE ROAD

WC: How do you feel about being on tour?

TQ: I get nervous about heading out on tour because I love being home, but once I return, I miss the road; it’s a double edged sword. I have grown accustomed to touring, and nothing equals being on stage and playing our music, so in that sense, I have become dependent on it. Touring can be humbling though, it hits us when we hit a city we have never been to before, I mean I wouldn’t roll into Los Angeles, play one show, leave and expect that it’s going to explode all over the country. I am looking forward taking this record on the road. We have an epic tour planned taking us all over Canada, to America and Australia.

BRINGING THE SHOW TO CALGARY

WC: You have two sold out shows in Calgary. Has the experience of playing your hometown changed?

TQ: Playing in Calgary used to present me with a lot of pressure. We would have so many friends and family members to see, and we would have so little time to do it. This year we have two dates in Calgary, I am humbled by that. Putting together our own stage show is something I really like to do, I was in drama as a kid, and really liked putting on plays. That is where the passion for performing stems from.

Winterstart Festival Nov 28-Dec 6

Winterstart Festival (credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau)

Winterstart Festival (credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau)

Celebrate winter during the Winterstart Festival in Banff and Lake Louise. The event kicks off with the World Cup Alpine Ski Racing (men’s Nov 28-29; women’s Dec 4-6) at Lake Louise Mountain Resort—cheer on world-class athletes as they vie for the final positions on the Olympic team. There’s also free on-hill entertainment by the Mocking Shadows Rhythm and Blues Revue (Nov 28). If you can’t make it to the hill, you can watch live racing action via Jumbotron’s big screen in Banff Avenue Square (200 Banff Ave). The festival continues in Banff with the Castle Carolers roaming downtown streets (Nov 28/Dec 5), Warren Miller’s Dynasty film screening (Nov 30), retail window decorating contest (Dec 4), Christmas in the Rockies with face painting, cookie decorating and free wagon rides (Dec 5), Santa Claus Parade of Lights (Dec 5), performances of Parks Canada’s Mountain WIT Theatre Troupe’s “Imaginanation”—a tale of hope, inspiration and natural wonders explored through puppetry, masks and music (Dec 5), Stuart McLean and a Vinyl Café Christmas (Dec 5), Mountaintop Christmas Sing-Along (Dec 6), and Bow Valley Chorus’ Christmas musical concert (Dec 6). With all of these family fun events, come and celebrate the glorious winter season in Banff and Lake Louise.

Weekend Roundup, August 14 to 16

It’s all about festivals in Muskoka! Perfect for the (anticipated) sunny weather this weekend.

Enjoy a day of boating and fishing at Arrowhead Provincial Park (photo by John Vetterli).

Enjoy a day of boating and fishing at Arrowhead Provincial Park (photo by John Vetterli).

Friday, August 14
Kick-off the weekend by picking up something original from one of more than 130 Canadian artists and craft vendors at Gravenhurst’s 18th annual Dockside Festival of the Arts. Purchases in hand, stay for the food and live entertainment.

Instead of dinner and a movie, do dinner and a play tonight. In its fourth year of bringing dinner theatre to the Gravenhurst Opera House, the Dragonfly Theatre Company performs “See How They Run,” a fast-paced comedy set in an English vicarage.

Saturday, August 15
At Bracebridge’s Art in the Heart, discover painters, woodworkers, sculptors and other emerging Muskoka artists honing their crafts along Manitoba Street and its connected laneways. This year the festival also offers street entertainment, from theatrical performers and dancers to musicians and magicians.

In the afternoon, indulge in a cottage country beer and food tasting at Muskoka Cottage Brewery. The event includes an exclusive tour of the Bracebridge microbrewery.

Sunday, August 16
Head out on a Sunday-morning fishing trip with the family for rainbow trout and small-mouth bass at Arrowhead Provincial Park.

Tap your toes to the guitar, autoharp, and banjo sounds of country-bluegrass band The Good Brothers tonight at Gull Lake Park. The nine-time Juno Award winners play the closing set for Gravenhurst’s Music on the Barge, a regional tradition since 1949.

Weekend Roundup, July 24 to 26

Friday: See the Kuba Komet and other eclectic historical sets at the MZTV Museum of Television

Friday: See the Kuba Komet and other eclectic historical sets at the MZTV Museum of Television

Friday, July 24
Celebrate the arts and culture of South Asia at Masala! Mehndi! Masti!, a popular festival featuring artists, food and clothing vendors and more representing such countries as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Book a tour of the newly re-opened MZTV Museum of Television and see some of the most striking historical televisions still in existence.

Look closely at the exceptionally intricate works on paper by Luke Painter, whose current show, entitled Revival-esque is on display at Angell Gallery.

Saturday: Amy Millan takes the stage at Harbourfront Centre

Saturday: Amy Millan takes the stage at Harbourfront Centre

Saturday, July 25
Grab some new walking shoes or sandals from one of the hundreds of available pairs at Get Outside, then saunter along Queen Street West for more retail therapy.

Enjoy more ethnic offerings as part of the Kultura Filipino Arts Festival, with music, visual arts and readings that reflect the Filipino-Canadian experience.

Sing along under the stars with Stars vocalist Amy Millan as she headlines the Harbourfront Centre’s Canadian Voices festival.

Sunday: Sassy songstress Katy Perry belts 'em out at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Sunday: Sassy songstress Katy Perry belts 'em out at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Sunday, July 26

Join the resident artists of the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, as they offer another in a series of “Sundays at the Young.” This week, Noah Richler presents performances of Depression-era songs and stories by Murray McLauchlan, Chris Whiteley, Jean Stillwell and others.

Bounce around on the lawn of the Molson Amphitheatre as Katy Perry performs her sassy little ditties.