I had the chance to chat with Martina Sorbara from Dragonette about her style, some of the bands memorable moments, and a bit about the band’s new album, Fixin’ To Thrill, and it’s upcoming tour. Fixin’ To Thrill is more of an emotional, real life sentiments album. Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll be full of heartfelt ballads. Dragonette has always produced body moving beats and their shows have been known to be dance-athons. Their single “Pick Up The Phone” and their collaboration “Boys & Girls” with Martin Sloveig have had me head bopping like Steve and Doug Butabi from A Night at the Roxbury. So expect to see a bit of the latter dance moves induced by awesome dance beats along with a kick of electronica and even some rock ‘n’ roll elements during their upcoming tour.
I was pretty mesmerized by Martina’s addictive voice. Her voice has a certain “je ne sais quoi” spark. Although you won’t get to hear voice, hopefully you can imagine it as you read on to read what’s going on in the world of Dragonette.
Killahbeez: So what’s the road been like from the early days as The Fuzz to early Dragonette to now?
Martina: It went from being something for fun to pushing our own boundaries and now it feels like a really solid thing. I’ve learnt a lot about what we do and what I want to do. There was a huge learning curve. Dragonette, to me, has a much clearer picture of what it is and what we are.
KB: Do you think you’ve evolved musically?
Martina: I think we’ve evolved. I think we’ve discovered our sound a little more. One thing that has been consistent is that we’re sort of open to anything. We don’t have a limit. When we sit down in front of the computer to write a song, we don’t have any ideas of where the song is going to end.
I think that our sound has evolved a little bit in that I think I’ve gone far enough away from where we started musically 15 years ago. I’ve gone far away enough that we’ve been creeping back and taking little bits of the emotional side of what I used to do and bringing it into this pop world.
KB: Since you’re so open to letting your music go anywhere, does that mean your sources of inspiration are endless?
Martina: I think we can get ideas from everything. During this last album, I was listening to a lot of 70’s female artists, not the disco ones, I don’t even know what it’s called, but like Rickie Lee Jones , Joan Armatrading, and Phoebe Snow. I don’t even know what carried over from them but for some reason during this whole album, the only thing I would want to listen to when I came up from the studio was these 70’s female artists.
KB: What’s your music writing process like?
Martina: Sometimes it starts with me and a sentiment and/or a word or I’ll sing a melody in my head and then I’ll try to relay that to Dan. But mostly it’s Dan being like, do you like the sound of this beat or this synthesis. Then if it works, I’ll see what it inspires for me and then we’ll record something and then hopefully it’ll inspire him to take it to the next step and so on and so forth.
KB: Any musical collaborations that you’d like to make happen?
Martina: I’m always up for collaborations. They’re totally terrifying. I think that I’m more terrified of writing for other people which we get asked to a lot but I don’t think I know how to do that. I don’t think I’m good at writing lyrics that aren’t directly related to my life. If someone sends me a track and asks if I want to sing on it, then I can take some ownership over the lyrics and it’s about me and this persons track and then it’s a collaboration, which is daunting in its own way but there is more liberty there.
KB: So no one in particular you’d love to work with?
Martina: So many people! Realistically?
Martina: Hmmm…. David Bowie and Tom Waits and Frank Zappa if he was still alive. And Bjork. If Bjork was still writing pop songs I would like to work with her. And Prince. And Run DMC.
KB: And this list goes on and on….
KB: So how’s the tour prep going?
Martina: Well we’re just getting started and it’s going swimmingly!
KB: From all your previous tours, shows, etc., do you have a favourite place or memorable moment?
Martina: Yeah I think when we showed up in Chile and played a show in a country where our album hadn’t been released and having those people be excited and singing along at a totally energetic concert. Surprises like that are always highlights.
KB: Any interesting “rock star” moments or stories?
Martina: Hmm… We played in London once and between sound check and the show we got to go to this mini Paul McCartney concert he was doing for like a 1000 people, which for Paul McCartney, he might as well have been playing in your living room. Then we had to rush back and play our show and then after our show we rushed back to back to this really intimate, 60 people, party with Paul McCartney where we got to speak with him. I was thinking, oh my god what the hell are we doing here?!!
KB: That’s exciting! Spontaneity is fun!
Martina: It makes me feel like you can kind of just pretend like you belong!
KB: So on to some style, what inspired the short hair do?
Martina: I always wear it up. So I thought, well, why don’t I just cut it off? So my friend and I cut my hair in his living room. I think this hairstyle is our own invention. We’ve called it the “Militina”. It’s my Inglourious Basterds look. I’m digging it. It needs a bit of a touch up but it’s a work in progress.
KB: How would you describe your personal style?
Martina: Hmm…Lesbian Chic!
KB: Would you say your style has evolved a lot over the years?
Martina: I’ve always been a real tomboy but I do enjoy glamming it up. So I’ve been constantly searching for the hybrid of that.
KB: Any styles you wish you could pull off but just can’t?
KB: Maybe your very versatile and look good in everything!
Martina: No…I always wish I could pull of the slouchy clothing that someone who’s really tall with small boobs can pull off. It’s the kind of look that only a tall, hot, generally blonde girl can pull off. It’s the “I didn’t bother looking in the mirror this morning but I look incredible” look. When you’re 5”2 you have to work with different parameters.
KB: Do you find that you want or have to reinvent your look a lot given the industry you’re in?
Martina: Not a lot. I don’t generally think about reinvention ever but having a follow up album you kind of have to think about these things, like how do I want the visuals of this album to be different than the last.
KB: Do you think you’ll take a break after your new album and tour or get back to work right away?
Martina: I think if I can get disciplined enough, I would love to start mining my musical creative well for little tidbits. It’s hard to tour forever and then finish and feel like you have to do something right away. The more you have accumulated in the pockets of time that you have the better you’re off. Even if you don’t keep anything that you came up with during that time, at least you’ve had your mind on it and you don’t feel completely out of practice.
KB: It sounds like musicians are always on the go. Do you get a lot of down time or are you looking forward to a big vacation?
Martina: Because Dan and I are always in the same place because of work, it means that vacations can be very spontaneous. Neither of us has to fly to a significant other. We have a bit of time after our Barcelona show and it’s a place we both love to be. So we get to take a breather there. Then we’re going to be in Australia together. I think all it takes is the intensity of the tour to lift a bit and then we can make vacation wherever we decide to have a nice lunch.
KB: Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?
Martina: I wish I knew that just because there’s a big label, it doesn’t mean that they know better than you. I think that there was awhile when I thought, these people know what they’re doing because this is their business. Later I realized that this is my business too and I’m a professional at this as well. There were a lot of little decisions that I would have made if I had stopped to think that I have as good a take on this as this other person. I would have felt more in control.
KB: So to trust your gut a little more and do what feels right?
Martina: Yeah. I think I was excited to work with people who were “professionals” but it’s not like they know better, they have input, but they don’t know better.
KB: Well thanks so much for your time! Good luck on your tour and with your new album! I’m looking forward to your Vancouver show!
Martina: Thanks! We’ll see you out there!
Dragonette “Fixin’ To Thrill”
Dragonette “Pick Up The Phone”