Interview with Martina Sobara from Dragonette
For half a decade now, the Canadian-based Dragonette have been churning out their eclectic blend of danceable electro-pop, collaborating with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Kaskade, and most recently Martin Solveig. Their current international tour, spanning across Europe and North America, is just about to kick off and they generously take a few moments to speak with us beforehand.
Hi Martina, how are you guys?
Really good. Dan and I are just trading off here in the studio.
Oh, are you recording right now?
Yeah. Just for fun.
So you’re just messing around. Is it a personal studio, like a room that you converted?
We have one at home in London but since we’re on tour, we’re at my cousins studio.
In Toronto, Canada?
Alright. So tell me about the U.S. tour you’re doing. Is there a particular place you’re excited to visit or play at?
Well, I think we’re playing a few cities we haven’t played before, so it’s always exciting to see what’s happening there and see who comes out. I think we’re all really excited for Lollapalooza. In Boston, we always have really fun shows there.
Do you have anything special in mind for Lollapalooza?
We’re working on it. It’s tough because we’re playing in the middle of the day… I don’t know what time but it’s smack in the middle of the day. We’ll have a good time no matter what.
Are you looking forward to wandering around in the crowd checking out the other acts after your performance?
Yeah. That’s always part of the experience. Also meeting bands that you’ve heard and never met before.
I guess that’s one benefit to playing early in the day. Once you’re done there is no more stress and you can enjoy the rest of the acts.
And just get wasted.
Exactly. Or before your act. Whatever.
I try to put that off to afterwards.
What does your ideal venue look like? Small and intimate or huge amphitheatre?
I don’t know. When you have enough people to get a good jump going on and get people dancing.
Awesome. So you’re playing with Dan Black on a few of these dates.
Would you have him come on stage and perform a few songs with you guys?
We haven’t figured that out yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. It’s coming down to the wire though. I think that is something that happens halfway through when you’re getting more familiar with each other.
What was the deciding factor in playing the U.S. East coast dates? I don’t get to see you here in LA. You really broke my heart with that one Martina.
[Martina laughs] We’ll be there in September.
Oh! That wasn’t listed on your tour dates.
It should be. We’re playing the Troubadour and in San Diego and San Francisco as well.
I didn’t know all that. I’ll have to check that out.
Please come! It’s going to be fuuuun!
So what was the production process like in your recent collaboration with Bob Sinclair?
I think he was only a cameo appearance. That’s a process that’s happening more and more in music. It’s kind of like an internet relationship.
Where you don’t actually meet and greet, but swap files?
Yeah. It’s kind of awesome. That’s how we did the Kaskade song as well. It’s kind of like, a track landed in their inbox and you get all cozy with it and take it to the studio. The other song I did with Martin Sulveig before “Hello,” I actually went to Paris where he was. Actually, I don’t think he ever worked that way, with the file swapping. We spent some time on the phone getting on the same page, but I think that was a first for him. I love being in the same studio with someone but both methods have their benefits.
It just seems a lot more convenient that way. What other collaborations are you looking forward to?
We’re working on a couple, but I can’t talk about them because if they don’t like what I do then they don’t really fit. [she laughs]
You can’t release it on your own?
No, it’s joint ownership. So if I released that I’d be releasing their song. I just feel like if I talk about it someone will say that I’m doing this song and then it will never come out.
You can’t give me a tip on anything you’re excited to collaborate on?
Well… [she laughs] No, because I don’t want you to write the names! It’s nobody big. Cool underground DJ music.
What do you guys have planned after this summer tour?
We’re doing some shows in Europe. We’re trying to write more and more now that we’re thinking about our next record. We have a new EP coming out this summer. It’s three new songs and a bunch of remixes. But mostly we’re gearing up for making more to mix.
Are you presently writing the next album?
I guess so. I’m writing all over the place, always. Now that I think about it, yes, we’re starting to think about the new album. It’s shaping in our minds, at least.
What direction will you take it to, as opposed to the last two albums?
It’s hard to say. Both come with a surprise and even with our best intentions, each song takes on its own life. I know we’ve been really enjoying having this balance of acoustic instruments with electro sounds as opposed to being so synth heavy. It sort of evens the balance of both instruments. It’s still dance music. I think we’ll be challenged to have that dance sensibility playing acoustic instruments, but that’s my dream.
Acoustic dance. Interesting.
Acoustic dance. Maybe it will work, maybe not. In all honesty that’s one thing I’m concentrating on most right now, but who knows what’s really going to happen.
Well, I am excited to see where this goes. You’ve piqued my interest.
Martina, do you have any solo projects planned right now or does Dragonette pretty much saturate all of your time?
This is pretty much is all of my time right now. Also, I give a lot of time to knitting and dressing. Otherwise most of my time is taken up by Dragonette. It’s not something I’m considering right now but never say never.
So your main focus is on knitting, sewing, and Dragonette?
Making clothes and making music.
I don’t knit clothing, I knit weird things.
A severed ankle and a high heeled shoe with fishnets on. It looks like someone’s ankle was cut off by a doll made out of yarn.
Okay. What about Dan. Does he have any solo stuff planned or is it the same old situation?
Dan sometimes works on producing other people’s stuff.
Like whom does Dan produce?
He was just working with Nicola Robert from Sweden. And just some stuff here and there, but no full length albums. But also I think that if we’re both not 100% in this project, it won’t go anywhere. It’s only half a band when one of us is elsewhere.
[We both laugh] Alright. What do you hope to get out of your studio session today?
Two verses and two choruses. [she laughs]
On a song for the new album?
A secret project. It’s a song for a movie.
Oooh, secret project! Did this movie come to you and specifically ask for this song?
Someone says they are looking for a song for this particular thing and we might get it or we might not. I don’t want to say what it is because it might not happen.
So it’s still up in the air?
Yeah. And if we get it, it will be like, “Oh, surprise, look what happened! Nobody knew!”
Okay. Last question. What do you think we should do about the gulf oil spill?
Shit, man. I don’t know.
That’s what BP said.
Honestly, I had this conversation with a friend the other day who said something really smart. It’s just shocking. All of this money that was put into keeping car companies going. All of these dollars in the automobile industry, and then when this happens it’s like, “who is going to pay to clean it up?” Just fucking pay to clean it up! Just do it! Put the money where it needs to go and do it. I don’t know. That’s not a very good answer.
I didn’t really expect you to solve the situation, but thank you for that answer.
Just pass it on to Obama. He’ll appreciate it.
Yeah, I’ll just forward him this interview. Thanks for chatting with me. What date did you say you were playing at the Troubadour?
September the 27th. Wait, they haven’t announced that show yet! Shit… Oh, and we’re being nominated for a Grammy next year!
[we both laugh at this idea] Okay. Well, give my best to Dan. I’ll be sure to see you out there, hon.
Okay, bye now.
All photos by Raymond Flotat
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Interview with Martina Sobara from Dragonette