Tegan and Sara owe their success to a 70-year-old rocker

Sara Quin, left, and Tegan Quin,

Sara Quin, left, and Tegan Quin, Photo by Scott Gries/Invision/AP

Tegan and Sara remember the unfiltered advice Neil Young and his manager gave them when they were signed to the rock icon’s Vapor Records 16 years ago as budding 19-year-old singers.

“There was a very poignant speech about ‘you could go this way and you’re taking a real risk if you don’t have success, there’s a chance a major label won’t be interested in you for very long, but then there’s this path and this path is harder, there’s less money and you’re going to struggle but it’s going to give you time to develop as an artist.’ And that’s, quite literally, the best gift you can be given as a young artist is time to develop,” Tegan, now 35, recalled in a recent interview with her sister.

“We really in a huge way owe our incredibly long career to Neil Young and his manager, Elliot Roberts, because they afforded us that time.”

After self-releasing their 1999 debut, the twin sister duo, who are not only advocates for the LGBT community but out lesbians, released their 2000 sophomore album and other efforts on Young’s label until 2007. Now, Tegan and Sara have released their eighth album, taking on a fresh sound and playing the field like new artists with veteran experience.

The sound on “Love You to Death,” which reached the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in June, extends the ’80s pop sound they introduced on 2013’s “Heartthrob,” leaving behind their alternative rock style behind.

“We’ve been sort of in the indie-rock community for a long time and we’ve done really well there … but I think there was still something lacking for us. We felt that we were still sort of kind of limited and I think probably a lot of that was that guitar is not our primary instrument, piano was,” Tegan said. “Pop continues to be very interesting. It’s actually kind of hard to write a pop song … and we love the challenge of that.”

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