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Life's a Dragonette
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-09-18

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Dragonette. Pic by Kristin Vicari


Formed in Canada, the pop band Dragonette took over the music world with a simple hook on "Hello." The musical act has collaborated with everyone from Basement Jaxx to Cyndi Lauper, and received a Juno Award from its native Canada for Best New Group.

The third album is set to be released Sept. 25 as Dragonette heads to Chicago to play at the famed Metro concert venue.

Windy City Times talked with singer Martina Sorbara before her arrival about why she is so connected to her gay fans.

Windy City Times: Hi, Martina. The last time you were in Chicago was for a Borderline Music appearance, correct?

Martina Sorbara: Yes, it was just a signing. I don't think we played. We hung out there for a bit. We were there for Lollapalooza.

WCT: How did it go at Lollapalooza?

Martina Sorbara: It was awesome. It surprised me to see that many people coming to see us.

WCT: You are currently out on tour?

Martina Sorbara: We have been playing some shows this summer but we are set to go into rehearsal and head out on the road. It is all happening.

WCT: You play at the Metro with The Knocks.

Martina Sorbara: They are super-fun guys. We opened for Cut Copy there before Lollapalooza.

WCT: Are the '80s an influence of Dragonette's work, like Cut Copy's?

Martina Sorbara: I don't think it consciously goes into our writing. I think when you use synthesizers to write songs that are not full dance songs the mind goes to the '80s. I think that is time that synths came into a pop-song format. When we made Galore we were listening to a lot of Tears for Fears. It is not something we strive for, but we grew up in the '80s so it had to have worked its way in there.

WCT: Your group is from Toronto?

Martina Sorbara: Yes, we are.

WCT: I recently went there; it is beautiful city.

Martina Sorbara: Is it like Chicago? I don't know Chicago at all.

WCT: People say that, but I think Toronto is really laid out well. Chicago doesn't have room to spread out because of the lake.

Martina Sorbara: We are on a lake, too, but you don't notice because we have done such a great job of fucking it right up.

WCT: And Toronto doesn't have our skyline. Hopefully, you have some time to explore Chicago while you are here.

Martina Sorbara: I doubt it. This tour is so retarded. We have like one day off in a month. One week we play seven shows!

WCT: Will you be releasing a video for "Rocket Ship?"

Martina Sorbara: No. We just felt it was a good summer song and didn't want to wait to release it later so we threw it out there.

WCT: What is the second single?

Martina Sorbara: "Live in This City." I am just waiting for the first edit of that video. I am so excited to see it. It is going to be hilarious.

WCT: Is it fun?

Martina Sorbara: Oh my God—it is so fun! I did it with my friend, Wendy Morgan, directing but it is a concept I came up with a long time ago. Wendy is my best friend in the world and we knew we would be doing this video together. We hashed out the whole thing. It was a delightful two days of hilariousness.

WCT: It seems like you are having fun making videos. I was watching several of your past ones.

Martina Sorbara: We have fun, for sure. There is not a lot of money being thrown at videos these days. So a lot of times we are squeezing a lot of work into only one day. Sometimes you don't get everything you need. With a culture of YouTube if you don't capture someone's attention there is no way that they won't click onto something else. You have to tell a story in a smart way and make it look good. It is hard. Having your friends as part of the process makes it easier.

WCT: The "Let it Go" video has a story like you are saying.

Martina Sorbara: That was a one-day shoot and quite stressful towards the end. Again that was made with my very dear friend Drew Lightfoot. We just go between those people for our videos because we don't want to go with people we don't know.

WCT: It looked like it was heading towards animal experimentation.

Martina Sorbara: That was the whole idea but I don't know if we played out the whole concept enough to make it obvious. We had scenarios where you will think it will be dark but it actually is a positive thing. You think something bad is going to happen to the rabbit but then it was feel how soft this bunny is. You think someone will be tortured then they start dancing. You think someone is brainwashed with a TV like in A Clockwork Orange but then it is cupcakes, rainbows and ponies.

WCT: I got it, then!

Martina Sorbara: I think a story still comes through but I don't know if we played it out enough to make it obvious. You think you will be operated on, but actually you get a massage.

WCT: I glad you could explain it.

Martina Sorbara: A video doesn't really do its job if you have to explain it, but I think it is still pleasing to watch. The dancers were so good. My body hurt for three days after making those dance moves because I am not a dancer.

WCT: So no big dance moves at the Metro concert?

Martina Sorbara: Well there will be but they are just not choreographed. I have some shakes to throw. I definitely do.

WCT: "Hello" was played everywhere. How was that experience?

Martina Sorbara: It was super-fun. It put a lot of stress on writing our next record. It made the process more intense. It elongated that process because we were having so much fun playing these random concerts. Because that song was so huge we were offered to play in the Philippines and Paraguay. We couldn't give it up because we are travel junkies.

It took a while to take away the feeling of the world being aware of us. Before our album Galore was written in a vacuum and it took a while to get back to that feeling. People wanted a follow up to "Hello" and I said, "Fuck your follow-up!"

WCT: It is important to stick to your guns as a band.

Martina Sorbara: I think some people are built to be hit machines and do the industries bidding really well without losing integrity. But some musicians have to follow their whims. I am really not good at forcing myself other than exactly what I want to do or what come naturally.

WCT: You are not a conformist, then.

Martina Sorbara: Maybe. I need to believe in it or otherwise nobody is going to like it.

WCT: Well, you have not changed your sound from this album. It is called Bodyparts. Where did the title come from?

Martina Sorbara: I just really liked the word. I tend to throw into body parts into lyrics a lot over the years. I saw the word as not something bloody or gory but as something musical, beautiful and sexual.

WCT: Who does the writing for the group?

Martina Sorbara: Me, Dan and Joel. Dan Kurtz and I write the songs together. I am the lyric person and Dan is the production. Joel Stouffer is the rhythm section. We send stuff off to him and he adds his two cents in. He adds his own sprinkle of fairy dust.

WCT: That brings me to question if there is a gay member of the group?

Martina Sorbara: No, but we are very gay without being gay. It is socially where we have ended up as well as professionally. I think we are attractive to a gay audience because we are coming from an angle that is not straight up the center. When you have singing that is not a cookie-cutter of emotions and sexuality, I think that could be where the attraction comes from. The way some girls sing about love I can't really relate to when it is right down the center. It just doesn't speak to me. I try to represent something else.

Dragonette drives to the Metro, 3730 N Clark Street, on September 18. Visit www.metrochicago.com for tickets. Bodyparts will be released on Sept. 25. Check out dragonetteonline.com to purchase today.


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