Earlier this year, Tegan and Sara brilliantly transitioned away from guitar-driven indie rock and toward synth-based mainstream pop with "Heartthrob," the sister duo's seventh studio album. Led by the single "Closer," "Heartthrob" has sold 165,000 copies since its January release according to Nielsen SoundScan, already surpassing the current sales of 2009's "Sainthood" (115,000 copies to date).
On the red carpet at Z100 (WHTZ) New York's annual Jingle Ball concert on Friday night (Dec. 13), Tegan and Sara talked to Billboard about making such a marked shift in their musical approach.
"I think for us, it's been really interesting, because we grew up on pop music," says Tegan Quin, "so the idea that we got to bridge the gap to what we've done in the past and what's popular now has been really exciting. If anything, it's really cool to just be here [at Jingle Ball] -- I mean, trust me, it's not like Coachella has a red carpet with people screaming at Miley Cyrus to take their photo."
And rest assured, "Heartthrob" fans: Tegan and Sara are not done exploring the gooier side of their style. Sara Quin says that she and her sister are "always working on music," and that she wouldn't be opposed to re-upping with producer Greg Kurstin (P!nk, Kelly Clarkson) -- or even connect with a pop maestro like Max Martin -- for the "Heartthrob" follow-up.
"I think that we have more to explore with the pop genre," Sara explains. "I like what we're doing right now. It's challenging, it's totally new for us, it's forcing us to think outside of the box we were in for a decade, and like Tegan was saying, this audience that's been drawn to this music is really exciting to us."
On Friday night, Tegan and Sara made a surprise appearance during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' set at Jingle Ball, performing the hook for "Same Love" alongside Mary Lambert. Click here for photos from the entire Jingle Ball extravaganza.