Tegan and Sara‘s captivating video for their single “Closer” just dropped, depicting an exhilarating house party that effortlessly captures the song’s celebratory energy and dynamic sound — but making the video wasn’t so simple for the Canadian indie pop duo.
In honor of the big premiere, Idolator sat down to chat with the band’s titular singer-songwriter Tegan Quin to discuss the Isaac Rentz-directed clip for “Closer,” the sound on their upcoming LP Heartthrob (which hits retailers January 29, 2013) and their evolution over the last decade.
Heading into the studio to begin work on their next record, Quin said, was a process of trying new things: “We started to experiment with keyboards and a lot of melodic lines and a lot more vocals,” she explained. “It’s more of a return to the music that we wanted to make in the mid-2000s, with So Jealous and The Con. Obviously, so much has changed in the musical landscape of our world, too, and I feel like if we came out with an indie rock record, I’m not sure that anyone would really care.”
For them, she says, it’s about creating a sound that will resonate with their listeners. “Ultimately, we try to make music that connects with people,” Quin said. “We’re obviously ’80s kids, and we tried to make a record inspired by pop music now and also pop in the ’80s.”
Creating Heartthrob wasn’t just about new instrumentation, though — Quin said that it was also a process of looking through her past for inspiration. ”It felt really natural for me, as I wanted to challenge myself to do something different than what I’ve done before. I wanted not to just write the sad broken me, but also the other part of me where I was going back into my life in the ’90s — where I was so nostalgic — where I felt love, and crushes, and romance before the crushing blows of rejection, and adulthood, and university, and doubts. Sonically, we wanted a lot of those influences as well.”
Heartthrob sees Quin teaming up with Greg Kurstin for the first time, a pop producer who’s worked with Britney Spears and Pink, but the collaboration worked nicely for Tegan and Sara’s alt-pop vibe. “He’s like an incredibly talented imaginary best friend,” she laughed. “He has this football team of incredibly talented musicians that would work with us, too. Normally, I would go ‘Oh, I have the sound in my head, and that’s what kind of keyboard we need,’ but with Greg, I was singing and then he offered nine different ideas that were already in my head.”
It’s Kurstin who produced the lead single “Closer,” which Quin described — both in terms of its sound and the accompanying visual — as a change of pace for the band. “Musically, it’s always been a heavy record that we put out,” she said. “I just thought that we needed a fresh start. ‘Closer’ is my attempt at writing about love and crushes long before the devastation of heartbreak. We were trying to capture that feeling of the summer when you leave home before college. You’re going to be trying to recapture that moment for the rest of your life.”
But even if the video evokes that carefree delirium, shooting it proved challenging: “We shot it outside of L.A., in the Valley, and it was about 110 degrees,” Quin remembered. “That part was miserable — sweaty and miserably hot.” But the final product delivers on their initial concept: “It’s not a slutty, gross party,” Quin laughed. “This is a party for the young and beautiful. We wanted to make something that was influenced by a mashup of The Smashing Pumpkins‘ ’1979′ and Justin Timberlake‘s ‘Cry Me A River.’”