Tegan and Sara find bigger audience, success with new upbeat-pop sound

Canadian Quin twins Tegan and Sara had quite a year in 2013. Since 1997, the Calgary sisters struggled for stardom, releasing underappreciated gems like “The Con” in 2007 and 2009’s “Sainthood.” But trading acoustic guitars for effervescent synthesizers and emo for upbeat pop, on last year’s “Heartthrob” (led by the smash single “Closer”) was a game changer. The album snagged three Juno Awards back home and led to some surreal career milestones, like being invited onstage in August at Los Angeles’ Staples Center to duet on “Closer” with one of their biggest fans, Taylor Swift. “That night was just amazing,” recalls Sara Quin. “Taylor is such a huge star, but she always works overtime to support other artists she cares about.”

You collaborated on that infectious “Everything Is Awesome!” theme song from “The Lego Movie” with Mark Mothersbaugh. How did you nab such a cool assignment? That song was just a funny, unexpected treat that showed up. It was just a cold call from the producers, and they were looking for people to do sort of spec cover versions of material that was already recorded. It was a very electro, straightforward dance version of the song. And so we cut demo vocals to an instrumental and they liked it. And they asked us to go in with Mark Mothersbaugh and record a proper vocal for it. And we also got a screener of a small portion of the film, so we knew the movie was going to be great. But I didn’t think that the song would be such a central focus of the film!

You also landed “Shudder to Think” on the “Dallas Buyers Club” soundtrack. You know, it’s just the way the industry works. Sometimes they pick you because they know exactly what they want. And sometimes they’re just looking for a song, but they don’t know what they want — they just have words or feelings in mind. And in this case, for “Dallas,” they were looking for unreleased material. And we had this song that we had recorded for “Heartthrob” that didn’t make the cut — not because we didn’t think it was good, but because we felt it was a totally different tone, a different feeling from the rest of the record. So we wanted to hold it for something special.

And you also sing “Dare to Wonder” for a Canadian Oreo commercial? Did that come with a lifetime’s supply of cookies? We got a lot of cookies because of that, yes. We got paid in cookies.

So everything for you is, indeed, awesome? It’s really awesome! It’s totally true!


Tegan and Sara

Where: Outside Lands, Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks Stage

When: 6:50 to 7:50 p.m. Friday

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