When the musical comedy trio the Lonely Island reached out to Tegan and Sara with the prospect of recording a song for The Lego Movie, Tegan Quin remembers their reaction was, "Legos, cool!" The indie-pop sister duo worked on a demo and within two weeks, found themselves recording "Everything Is Awesome" with Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh. "Two hours later, we watched the video and voila," Quin says. The ebullient hit single debuted at Number 11 on Billboard's Dance/Electronic Songs chart.
Quin says they spent all of a couple of hours working on the song, futzing around with its tempo and its key to get it just right. She was happy with the result. "Obviously we got to end up as Legos," she says. "We saw a couple of scenes from the movie and I thought it was really smart and funny." Rolling Stone caught up with Quin to put together (har har) how the song was recorded.
Did you think you'd get the gig when you recorded your demo?
I thought we did a terrible job. I think it was in a different key. Then we stepped it down because I was just shrieking. Mark, the technician, was like, "It sounds like you're screaming," I said, "I am!" [Laughs] We were like, "There's no way we'll get it." So we were really thrilled to hear our version got in the credits. And I love the Lonely Island, so I was pretty excited that they picked us because they were like, "Oh, we're throwing it out to a bunch of different people." It was, like, big rappers, and I'm like, "There's no way." [Laughs]
So how hard was it to sing the word "awesome" and convey its sentiment at the same time?
The only vocal suggestion that they made was that we should sing it with as much excitement and jubilation as possible. Even though the movie ends in sort of a strange way, the lyrics are very, "Even though things are going badly, I'm still excited, I'm still happy," and I kind of love that.
When I recorded the demo, I was in a basement in Croatia or something and it was extremely cold and I was cracking vocals in that room, trying to imagine the "awesome" I'd sing if we actually got the song.
Are you surprised that people like the song so much?
I'm kind of surprised and not surprised. First of all, I thought the movie was really cool based on the two clips we've seen. It seems really smart, really well written. Sara and I really like to do things that we feel are credible and also it feels like they were within the brand of Tegan and Sara. We're trying to move into this more upbeat sound. Sometimes the content is pretty sad, but we try to find things within the realm of Tegan and Sara and this felt like it really fit.
Since it came out, it seems like the average person who likes it is pretty young, which is pretty cool, too. I love the idea of like, an 8-year-old going to the movie and some of those kids ending up liking Tegan and Sara. But in the end, we didn't do it to become a bigger band; we did it because we thought the movie was really cool and we just loved the idea of contributing to something that would bring people happiness.
Who would've thought 10 years later you'd have a hit song with The Lego Movie?
Who would've thought we'd be playing music 10 years later, the way the industry is?