Dragonette on ‘Bodyparts,’ Homemade Music, and Future Collaborations
Electropop band Dragonette played Metro Tuesday night, returning to Chicago for the first time since performing at Lollapalooza in 2010. In the interim, the three-person band composed of Martina Sorbara, Dan Kurtz, and Joel Stouffer has skyrocketed to fame following the release of “Hello,” the Martin Solveig collaboration that became 2011’s de facto summer anthem. I sat down backstage with lead vocalist Martina Sorbara for a quick chat about “Hello,” Dragonette’s new album (out this Tuesday), and future collaborations.
So Bodyparts is your third album, after Galore and Fixin’ to Thrill. What did you want to achieve with this album?
I don’t know. I think that as writers and producers of our own writing, I don’t feel like we’re ever really that consciously trying to accomplish something in particular. I think we just get off on starting to write a song, and then saying, “Oh, this sounds like this kind of song. This satisfies this part of me.” And so, in terms of an overall mandate, it’s hard to say—I know that we’ve had remixes that are popular in the dance world, so we definitely delved into the dance-y side of things in “Hello” and that stuff. It feels like there’s a lot of expectation for us to kind of be dance-y, and I think that’s one thing that we were kind of conscious of during the writing—like, is that who we are?
That was actually my next question—so how did “Hello” change the way you thought about Bodyparts?
I think that obviously all our experience in that world kind of influenced our writing, but ultimately what happened is it solidified in my mind that, no, we’re not [electronic dance music]. And I think some of the songs are actually a reaction against that presumption. I mean, I love that we don’t really sit in one world. We get to put our hands over here and do that. I don’t need to maintain some concept—some predetermined thing—like, this is who we are, and we don’t that, and we don’t do this. I love singing, and I love making songs and writing music and creating tracks with Dragonette, and that is the beginning and the end of it. Whatever journey it takes me on is fun.
Having reached a certain level of recognition and popularity—do you ever worry about your music becoming too over-produced or diluted?
No, because we’re not good enough producers [laughs]. We make our music, and we do our own… yeah, it’s homemade. I don’t think that we would be Dragonette. Dragonette is not Dragonette without Dan [Kurtz, Sorbara’s husband] Sorbara’s husband and I in our extra bedroom making tracks. I mean, we’ve sent songs around to random people that make their additions to it—but what Dragonette is is us making songs. And obviously there are collaborations, but I don’t think the next Dragonette album is going to be like all David Guetta collaborations. I think there was a moment—well, more than a moment—when we were trying to write this album, when we were trying to figure out where “Hello” fits in, but really, the bottom line of it is that that is that, and we are something else. Not that it doesn’t overlap with who we are. Part of who we are was this song with Martin Solveig. When it came down to it, I was so frustrated with trying to write music, when all of a sudden it was like, “Oh! That has nothing to do with the job at hand.” Then it was easy. Well, easier.
So, Bodyparts, where does the title come from?
I saw the word. It was on a blog. Or maybe it was a show at a gallery, or a piece of artwork. I just saw the word, and I thought it was interesting, and I wanted to write a song called “Bodyparts.” And I sort of have something, a sort of half-song that was written but just didn’t make it to the album, but it was just the word "bodyparts" in a beautiful kind of physical and musical meaning, as opposed to the kind of horror film meaning. Like a sexier, physical… I don’t know. I put body parts a lot in song lyrics because, I don’t know, it kind of brings a physicality—and brings a person into a song.
So you’ve done quite a few collaborations—Martin Solveig, Kaskade, Sara Quin from Tegan and Sara to name a few. Who’s your dream collaboration?
I would like to do a song with Santogold. I would love that. And even less likely would be Paul Simon.
Do you have anything in mind for where you would like to take Dragonette’s next album?
I don’t know. There are two songs in the works right now. I don’t know if I’ve thought that far ahead, but I have a few ideas. I would enjoy writing songs that are perhaps a bit less thump-y and not reliant on a lot of "hands in the air" moments. And, I don’t know, maybe that will take over the next album. I don’t find that worlds away from where we are now, but it’s just a different palette, I guess.
Bodyparts officially releases September 25, but the album is available for streaming at dragonetteonline.com. The band is on tour through October 20, 2012.
Photograph: Kristin Vicari