Dragonette's Martina Sorbara on writing songs about cheating without actually cheating
Kristin Vicari Dragonette (Joel Stouffer, Martina Sorbara and Dan Kurtz) play the Larimer Lounge this Friday, September 21.
Dragonette has been hot on the underground pop music scene for years, but only last year did they come charging out of the gate onto mainstream radio with "Hello," a global party-starter that saw Dragonette collaborate with French DJ-producer Martin Solveig. Almost overnight, Dragonette went from pop's consistently great, best-kept secret to Canada's first pop export this side of the 21st century that is cool to play at house parties.
The band, which resides in the U.K. these days, is set to release its third album, Bodyparts, next Tuesday, September 25. We recently spoke with lead singer Martina Sorbara about what we can expect from Bodyparts, hibernating before shows, how she can't look up at the stars without being mind-fucked and why she and her husband, multi-instrumentalist Dan Kurtz, aren't pop's next Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
Westword: You guys have said you consider Galore [Dragonette's debut album] a female, a lady entity, and Fixin To Thrill [the follow-up] is like the brother to that. So where does Bodyparts fit into that family?
Sorbara: [laughs] I have no idea. I don't know. It was an analogy I think that was destined for failure as soon as there was a third album, because you can't be like, "Oh it's a girl again!"
"It's a hermaphrodite. Yay!" [laughs] So... yeah, I don't know where Bodyparts fits in on that analogy. I think Bodyparts is very different than both of them. It was made under different circumstances. Fixin To Thrill was the album we made after leaving our label, Mercury, so it was like, "I have no idea who is listening, if anybody."
I think there was a lot of weird expectation from the label on the first album that had this totally... in retrospect... stuff built around it. And so then when we made Fixin To Thrill, there was a kind of "fuck that" attitude. "I don't want anybody telling me what I'm gonna be, how this is the next big thing or whatever. I don't give a fuck."
It's funny because your early stuff before Galore -- "Teacher Teacher," "Shock Box" -- they fit more in with Fixin To Thrill.
Yeah, they fit into more Fixin To Thrill land?
I would say so. They've got a harder, edgier vibe than Galore, which sounds to me a bit more polished and less in a raw way.
I guess it was more polished. We had more tools to polish it up with. The first songs we wrote, it was kind of like we were on this adventure with synthesizers. Having none of us really been worked with those instruments before, we were like, "Fuck yeah, that's heavy. This sounds so crazy."
Then when it was time to make the album, there was probably more opinions coming into it that weren't just us. Not that we didn't make the record we wanted to make, but it was kind of like sifted through in a way that left a bit more of a polished thing, which I think is where the feminine comes from. Not that feminine has to be polished. But in my mind there's more a femininity about the tracks and the sentiments, which totally represents one side of me.
You got a bit of a Beyoncé/Sasha Fierce thing going on?
[laughs] Well no, it's just that I'm a girl. I make cupcakes, [laughs] and a lot of other things as well. I think Fixin To Thrill was just being able to do whatever. Nobody except our manager, who has been with us the whole time, who is hugely helpful to us in terms of the writing process and bouncing things off him... there was nobody saying anything. "This should be like this" or "You're going to be massive." I think we were just like, "Whatever," and just throw it out there and see what happens."
But that's not what you experienced for Bodyparts?
Well, no. We started writing after "Hello" came out, and "Hello" was this insane thing that was this unexpected hit. All of the pressure came from ourselves and it took a long time to walk through it and shed that, like whatever potential pressure there was there. All of the sudden there's a whole audience of people listening to you, and you're like, "Wait, should I write a song for them too? Should we sit down and write a song for these new people that weren't here before?" And I think the answer is mostly no, but I think you can't not take that into consideration. So it took a while to push that to the side and get back to "Oh, actually that's not us. That's us and somebody." So it's partly the story, and partly the personality. But that's not Dragonette. That's Martin Solveig.