Dragonette's Martina Sorbara on writing songs about cheating without actually cheating
A lot of your songs have a kind of spiritual element to them. "Jesus Doesn't Love Me," "Take It Like A Man," "True Believer," "Come On Be Good" and "Untouchable" have this kind of spiritual element to them. Are you particularly spiritual?
I don't know how to explain it. I'm not religious at all. I'm intrigued by religion, and I'm kind of religious about the world. [laughs]
That doesn't sound right... I'm in awe of the fact that there's a planet that people live on in this crazy place that is space and darkness. To me, I'm so obsessed with the strangeness of that that sometimes I can't even look at the stars. It just fucks my mind up. I know it's such an angsty teenage thing, but sometimes to stop and think about it... So yes, that's the way I'm spiritual. I'm kind of constantly aware of how weird it is that there's life.
And there's so many possibilities out there for other things. Just that there's life is cataclysmic happenstance.
Totally! And it blows my mind! And maybe that's where the spirituality that you see comes from. I don't know.
Is it ever weird working with your husband? When Dan sees your lyrics or when you're playing, do you ever have a Fleetwood Mac moment?
Dan has let it all wash over him and be like, "Maybe it's about us, maybe it's not." I think there's songs that I'm like, "Wait, if I write this, is that going to expose something that I don't want to expose?" But I think that we've grown enough together that we just allow it all to be there, because if we didn't, none of this would work.
There's a song called "Ghost" on the album. It's a song where he knows I've been untrue, or that's a lyric anyways. Or he knows I've cheated on him or something -- and that never happened. I generally write about nonfictional things, and I was really self-conscious of that because I know everything I write is so true, and I was writing this song.
It was based on a scene in this movie by Miranda July [The Future] when time freezes because she tells her husband that she cheated on him. And that just sat with me, and I wrote this song about that. And when Dan listened to it, I was like... When he listened to the lyrics I put down, I was like, "Fuck, this is gonna just look really bad." [laughs] "But I didn't cheat on you! I just wrote about it."
Are there any other songs like that where you broke the mold of songwriting for yourself?
Whether it doesn't make sense or ring true to me at that particular moment, the lyrics in the song always shift into place and become meaningful and tell a story that's true. Even if I don't think I'm writing autobiography, as I'm doing it, it generally becomes so. Even when I look back on it and I listen to it, it's like, "Oh, that's what that's about. This is actually something that was trying to get out. This is emotions or something that I was processing and the words came out and the meaning came after."
Take, for example, Katy Perry: She did the song "The One That Got Away," right? That became true for a different situation as well, with Russell Brand. And not to go into that whole thing, but almost it's like that, as a songwriter, songs take on different meanings for different people and different fans, but also as a songwriter they apply to your life in different ways at different points, too.
Totally! I think that that's one of the joys of it, of writing a song and speaking -- letting something deeper down speak, as opposed to just writing and trying to write the right thing or say the right thing or say something that's attractive and appealing to people, but try and take it from some place deep down means you get to... It gets to be real; it gets to live; it gets to change. Not that manufactured pop songs can't speak their own language as well.
Sure, but they are manufactured, you know. There's a team behind them.
Yeah, I find that the more manufactured they are, the less different meanings they can take on, I guess.