Over the course of its last two albums (2013’s “Heartthrob” and 2016’s “Love You to Death”), Canadian duo Tegan and Sara has evolved from an acclaimed indie-rock band to a poppier, synth-based group, employing computers instead of guitars. The mainstream exposure from its friendship with fan Taylor Swift and its work on the Oscar nominated “Everything Is Awesome” (from “The Lego Movie”) has given the twin sisters, who are also lesbians, a platform for issues close to their hearts.
The Observer spoke to Sara Quin last week as she and her sister were readying to hit the road for festival season. They play The Fillmore Thursday en route to Bonnaroo.
Q. You recently started your own foundation to address issues concerning LGBTQ girls and women and donated the funds from last year’s concert in Asheville due to HB2. Where does your interest in political and social issues stem from?
A. It was part of our upbringing. We were raised by parents who, through their own lives and actions and interests, instilled a certain level of politics in us and made us empathetic and conscious of thinking about other people. We talked about racism and bullying and how to be good people and good friends, to stand up for ourselves. ... These are the values we cared about as individuals, as a family. Over the 20 years (since we started making music) those things have taken on a more formal and strategic kind of thing.
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Q. Do you think the current political environment will inform the next record?
A. I don’t know if I wrote a record now, if it would feel like a political record. What’s cathartic and inspiring about music is it’s a way to translate feelings I don’t get to share all the time. The things I care about, I talk about those things all the time. My friends call me the politician. I have a huge outlet for that. When I sit down to write music, it’s the stuff that is harder to get out and the emotions that are more complicated. Maybe this (will be) our Fugazi record.
Q. Were you thinking about those issues while making the last record?
A. One thing we consciously thought about addressing was the inequities of men and women in the music industry. We may not be on Earth by the time a woman wins producer of the year at the Grammys. They’re not always easy to find. One of the areas we have difficulty finding anyone other than white straight guys is in music videos. With this album cycle, we made 10 videos. And we engineered diversity. Only one of 10 ended up being a white dude. We make sure we work with lots of women and people from the LGBTQ spectrum, people of color.
Q. Being politically active in the U.S., but still technically living in Canada, have you considered – given the current climate – moving home for good?
A. We’re in the states over half the year. We both date Americans. I know more about what’s going on in America. We’re pretty invested in what’s going on down here.
It’s a complicated answer. I lived in Montreal when George W. Bush was president and I remember after 9/11, when the war started, a sense of ‘I’m so glad I live in Canada.’ I feel differently now. I’ve had 15 years of traveling around the world and seeing how connected everything is. Political decisions can have implications all around the world. I feel more of a universal citizen than I did when I was 21. Even though I can’t vote in the U.S., I can help be a part of the resistance and addressing some of the issues that are going to come up around transgender rights and Planned Parenthood. I can be a part of the social and cultural stuff that’s going on and encourage people to be political. I feel engaged. When I go back to Canada, I’m grateful for healthcare, but we have inequality, homophobia, racism and sexism. We also have a far right. We have to stay vigilant.
Tegan and Sara
When: 8 p.m. Thursday.
Where: The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 704-916-8970; www.livenation.com.