Dragonette's Martina Sorbara on writing songs about cheating without actually cheating
You've done quite a bit of work with other producers, too: Don Diablo, Felix Bloxsom, Kaskade, you even did "Okay Dolore" with your friend Sara [Sara Quin, of Tegan and Sara]. That was so cool when she came out on stage [in New York City] with you to do that song.
That was awesome. We had never done it before, because even when she sang on it, it was remotely. It was so fun. It was very exciting. We've never performed anything together. We've never shared voices.
How did you become friends?
We met fourteen years ago. [Sorbara began as a singer-songwriter in Canada before she and her husband formed Dragonette.] We were both young performers in Canada and we ended up... I think there was something in Toronto we were both playing, and we just kind of met, and then we met each other again at a festival. And then, yeah, I don't know. I can't remember how it was we stayed in touch. I don't remember changing information, but we've been friends a very long time.
It doesn't sound like your other songs, but at the same time it's so quintessential Dragonette.
Yeah! I don't know why. It just makes sense, even though it's such a weird anomaly on a record.
So is Dolore a person?
No, in Italian "O che dolore" means "What a pain." So I just made it phonetic, as opposed to the actual spelling of it. And so it sounds like I'm saying "Okay Dolore" but I'm actually saying "What a pain" in Italian.
New meaning to the song now. I've gotta listen to it again. Are there any people you'd like to work with in the future, on collaborations or anything?
I can't think of them right now. I don't know. There totally is. I only think of the right answer to this when I'm not in an interview, and I try to remember and I'm like that's who I want to work with, and then I can't. It just goes in my mind and disappears.
It's never happened with me before, except with Sara because she's my friend. I've never been like, "Oh yeah, I'm just gonna get in touch with, like, Annie Lennox, and we're gonna get her to sing on a song." I just don't really know how to tackle that process. But our good friend and neighbor, King Charles, who is an amazing performer -- you should check him out, he's really good -- we're trying to collaborate on something.
We have three songs actually that I think would be really good as duets, like with a guy and a girl, so that's what I'm trying to do even though my studio is torn down and I don't know when it's going to be set back up in my next place. So hopefully I'll have some collaboration with King Charles sometime in the next year.
So have you started work on the next album?
No, but we have a lot of songs floating about. Sometimes what happens with songs that sit around too long you just kind of move on emotionally. It's just too hard to get back in the head space of them. I think we may finish the ones we're working on and release them as an EP or something, or maybe they'll end up going on the next record. I don't know.
Is that what happened with "Our Summer" and "Volcano" and "My Things" [from the Our Summer Volcano EP]?
"My Things" was written early on with Fixin and it just didn't go with it. "Our Summer" was written afterwards, and there was the view to make it on the next album. But it was summer and it was like, "Fuck it. Just put it out there." Sometimes it's fun to not be precious about things and throw a song out.
It's definitely a treat for the fans, you know. You don't expect it, then boom! There's three new songs.
Yeah, well, it's fun for us. There's so much less frenzy around it than releasing an album. You just get to write a song and then have the satisfaction of putting it out and walking away.
Is it ever weird to pick those songs back up then during the live show?
No, it's great. You get to infuse new life to the set. You get to have like a brand new song to spice things up.
Do you change your live set each show? Your setlist?
No, no, no. It makes things all disjointed. It's fun to know that everybody knows what's happening. You do change them up. Maybe you'll decide to add a song now and then, but if you get a good setlist that feels right, there's no point in saying, "Well, we better change it for the sake of changing it."
What's your favorite song to perform live?
I love performing "Fixin To Thrill." I love performing "Easy." We have a new song that we've done, only performed once, on the album. It's called "Run Run Run" and I really loved singing that one and I've been enjoying it in rehearsals. It's a mix. I like the ones that I can rock out in, and then I also love the ones where I just get to use my voice and just sing as beautifully as I can.
There's this image in my mind of when you did the New York City show when your arms just went crazy. I brought a friend of mine to that show with me who hadn't heard of you guys before and so the thing that she noted about your stage presence... She's just like, "My god, it's like watching Stevie Nicks with these crazy awesome arms." It was such a perfect way to phrase that. So when you're up there, is it something you consciously think of?
No, I think the only thing I consciously think of is just to let my body go. I hate watching somebody... I really don't enjoy when I'm watching somebody and they look really conscious of themselves. So the only thing I consciously tell myself is to not be conscious. Just to sing and perform, and let my body do what it's gonna do. And let go a ton and just dance or sing or do both at the same time.
And the vodka probably helps with that too, I'm sure.
Well, it's never really more than one beforehand, but it may help with limbering me up.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music