Interview With…Dragonette!

In 2007, a pop group called Dragonette released a very good, very solid pop album called Galore, and anyone who was anyone was listening to and loving it.

Two years later, with a sound that promises to be harder, lyrics that promise to be realer, and tits that promise to be all over your things (read on for clarity’s sake), the ‘Nettes are back for more–and this time, they’re Fixin’ To Thrill.

Two weeks ago, I found myself myself lounging in bed with Dragonette’s Martina. As she slowly sipped a drink and gently stroked her cat, I whispered sweet nothings into her ear and wooed her into submission.

Alright, so I was only there virtually (Skype), and she didn’t actually know she was on camera until I mentioned it, so that was a bit pervish of me.

Nevertheless the interview was underway, and despite being plagued with lags and delays, I think it went rather well. My hope is that one day, I shall even be able to speak to Tina Dragonette in real time. You know, like face to face! A boy can dream.

Read on to watch as Tina and I bicker about Lady Gaga‘s worth in society, discuss the ins-and-outs of upcoming album, one massively unintentional link to Peaches, and the sexiest cat this side of the Serengeti–HANDSOME!

I can see you!

Oh, really? Oh my God, that’s so funny—that’s okay, I don’t mind. I’m lying in bed right now. I could turn my camera off. I had no idea you could see me, I’m so glad I wasn’t naked. [LAUGHS]

It would have made for a good lead.

That would have been so embarrassing, oh my God. I’m lying with my cat, look!

Aww! What’s the cat’s name?

Hi! His name is Handsome.



Hey Handsome!

Anyways, this is my bedroom. You’re in my bedroom.

Oh my God. I did not think I was getting this close on the first interview.

Well it’s my fault. You got to see my unglamorous life.

Maybe I’ll turn my camera off so I won’t be self-conscious. Am I gone?

You’re gone!

Finally, some privacy!

[LAUGHS] The damn paparazzi.

So funny!

So you just did two gigs in North America: A show in New York, and a show in Toronto, is that correct?

Yeah, we just kind of hashed out new numbers.

Now you did, in Toronto, you did like a festival right? How was that?

Um, it was okay. I think we’re kind of rusty, but…it’s like we’re learning our trade again. We sit in the studio and everything’s theoretical and then you get on stage remember that you’re a performer.

Okay, so you also played the New York show. I couldn’t make it to New York but I wanted to, however I had a couple close friends who went and they had an absolute blast, and I think they actually went out for drinks with you guys after the show!

Oh, really?

It was Hannah of SheenaBeaston and one of my best friends.

Oh yeah, oh my God! We got wasted! She was fun.

It cut out, sorry, what’d you say?

I said she was fun. She was and continues to be fun!

Yes, she is! [LAUGHS] So I distinctly remember them one song that they really loved. Something about titties. I don’t remember what the name was called—

Oh! “Get Your Titties Off My Things!”

Oh! That’s a nice name. What kind of a song is that?

That’s like a “Yo girl, step back from my man” song.

That’s nice. [LAUGHS]

Yeah. Everybody needs one.

No, yeah, it sounds like a total anthem.

I think so.

Looking forward to it. So then did you play a lot of new tracks during the show, or was it like a mix of old and new?

Yeah, it was about half and half. Yeah, it’s funny because I’m not used to the follow-up album sort of scenario. With the live show, you want to play the new songs, but nobody knows them, and so you try to figure out how to balance the old and the new, and that’s a new challenge.

Is it awkward to play songs that people definitely don’t know how to sing along to?

Um…yeah, it’s harder. But I mean, we’re used to it. We’re a tiny little band that mostly plays audiences that never heard of us, so…I mean, it’s lucky if some people sing because it’s not really the norm.

Yeah. Now right before, I went to go look at the video for “Fixin’ To Thrill” again. I really love it—it’s a very silly concept, and it’s sort of this, low budget Frankenstein situation.

I love that you said that it’s a very silly concept because some people look at it and think it’s really dark, and I’m like “Are you blind? It’s hilarious!”

Really?! No!

I mean I know it’s a pile of dead people at the end, but…

Oh hey, who doesn’t like dead people? That’s funny!

[LAUGHS] Exactly.

I did want to mention looking at it, I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons to Peaches and her latest work. Definitely, in this video, I saw some similarities to Peaches. I guess I saw you in that light for the first time.

But what exactly, like, her latest video?

Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve seen her latest video for “Talk To Me”?


It’s funny then—it’s dark, but kind of silly. She’s being attacked by these Cousin It-like, long haired models, and…it’s um…

Oh, really? Wait a second!


Cousin It? It’s sort of like hair all over?

It’s like hair all over. Yeah, yeah.

Fuck! That’s so—the video that we’re working on right now, I have this idea that I want to have all these blonde girls, with kind of like their bangs are covering their faces, and they’re like my crew, but that sounds very similar to Peaches’ video as well! [LAUGHS]

Uh oh! Well, take a look at it maybe.

Maybe I will. Whatever! You know, I’m definitely not intentionally ripping her off.

No, your mannerisms and your confidence—not that in other videos it wasn’t still there—but there was sort of a more masculine feel or androgynous feel for that.

It’s definitely a compliment. I think that her balancing act of masculinity and femininity and sexuality and just grotesque—not grotesque, but just raunchiness—I kind of love it.

I actually just saw her a month ago. Good stuff.

Good! I think she’s going to be here in August. I should try to go, but…anyways!

Anyways! So I want to talk about Galore for a little bit. I guess for me one of the biggest things I remember from 2007, I listened to the album for the first time, I loved it, I think a lot of us declared it one of the best albums of the year and it just really connected with people in the pop scene. And then, when it went for the charts [along with] the single’s performance on the charts, it just was not matching what a lot of us were expecting it to do. It’s like one of the major pop injustices of the year. [LAUGHS] Did you—what did you feel about that disconnect? Did you care? Did you not care? Was it frustrating?

Um…I think it was frustrating, but not that we were not becoming like global sensations.


Because I think that’s kind of limiting in its own way. [LAUGHS] But I think more that there’s this projection that the label was fighting for, and it was just kind of like, that’s where the frustration was, not being able to follow whatever this grand idea of what they had, having to work under that sort of like—whatever. Anyways, I feel like nothing ever happened. We have a cool album, we’re like an underground name, and that makes me feel really good, and our songs get played in clubs and we’re obscure and we get to play around the world in tiny little clubs, and I think that’s not too far off from where I want. [LAUGHS]

Yeah, it all depends on where you want the album to go, and if you’re obsessed with charting, then I feel like creativity could be hindered, and I feel like when you’re so concentrated on the label’s goals it definitely could affect you. I do like that you’re a bit underground and unnoticed—I mean it’s unfortunate because you deserve the popularity—but it is kind of nice to be underground.

Yeah. I mean obviously I would like to make a bigger splash with the next album and carry on in the same trajectory, but I’m not hoping for world domination.

Well, it could happen.

[LAUGHS] I do appreciate that we have kind of slowly built and it’s very natural. It’s probably pretty exciting as a pop performer to explode onto the scene, and that’s a whole other thing, but I don’t think it’s very realistic for us. I think we’re a bit too fringy for that or something. I know we play—it’s very pop, pop music that we make, but still a bit kind of edgy or just to kind of take hold in the way, maybe, Lady Gaga has…

What do you think of Lady Gaga by the way?

So, some people are kind of having a major negative reaction to it, like just in the past couple days, I’ve had conversations with people who are like so anti. But I kind of think that’s just because it’s so, like, exploded right now, and I think those same people naysaying her would not naysay her if she was like some discovery they made and they saw her walking down the street looking the way she does and she was as big as—if she was as small as Dragonette, or even as small as Peaches, which is not small at all. You know what I mean? I think her success is kind of irritating people more than she herself.

I don’t know, I guess my beef with the Gaga is probably that—I just feel like people perceive her as something entirely new, whereas I see her as being a combination of what I’ve always enjoyed, which is Grace Jones, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury—I just feel her concepts have been done before really and, you know, Madonna…I don’t know. But at the same time, she is channeling something that no other major pop artist is doing, so it’s like nice, but irritating that people don’t understand that that’s—it’s something that’s happened already.

But that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes. She’s found a way to make it, to communicate those things on a mass scale, and that takes some sort of artistic knowledge, and creative thinking to regurgitate something and make it hit so hard.

Oh, for sure. She’s taken what was kind of left-of-center and not so popular, and made it very mainstream.

Yeah, for sure.

Anyway! [LAUGHS] Between 2007 and now, I saw that there was writing credits for Cyndi Lauper’s album, you did “Grab A Hold” I believe!


It’s funny, because when I listened to the album for the first time a year ago, I thought that was probably one of the most classic Cyndi songs, it seemed like such an already instant melody.


How did that song come about?

Well, somehow we were put on her contact list for people to write with on her next album, and so she ended up in our tiny little pothole of a studio in a basement in London. Actually, the morning of, I was so freaked out I was going to be in front of—talking to Cyndi Lauper, let alone writing with her—I was trying to convince Dan to cancel the whole session. The morning of, I’m like “Just call them and tell them we can’t do it. We’re too busy! Don’t make me do this—I’m so scared!”[LAUGHS]

Really, you were that nervous?

I don’t know what I so scared of. I don’t know, I’m just—first of all, I’m not very seasoned in writing with people, and then when it’s such a mega huge star like Cyndi Lauper AND somebody who’s so important to me historically…

Yeah, but you did manage it sounds like!

We did manage, and it was really fun. I don’t know, like…I was sitting there being like, “How about you try these lyrics?” or “How about you try this melody?” or—not like it was all my doing, just like giving her suggestions, it was like “Is this really happening?” [LAUGHS]
And was she equally input-friendly? Was it very collaborative?

Oh yeah! It was very much like teamwork. I think that’s why I’m also really proud of that experience and that song because I’ve never, I don’t know, I’ve never really done that really before. I’ve never written with somebody, like a stranger.

Yeah, would that be something that you’re interested in?

I don’t think I’m very good at it. I think we did it well together, but I think it’s really hard to find the comfort zone for me because I’m such a vulnerable—lyrics are a vulnerable place for me. Yeah, I don’t think I’m professional enough or something. [LAUGHS]


Writing is like, I have to lock myself a room and it’s like “Don’t listen to me!” I need space. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to…

I do wonder how artists do it.

Well some people really approach it so professionally and so, like…I don’t know, like, “Today, we’re going to write a hit!”

Yeah! I heard about when Madonna and Justin Timberlake were writing together, which sounds funny in itself, I guess they kind of just went back and forth and then, somebody in the background—they have the song “Four Minutes.”

I really hate that song.

Yeah, I don’t like that song at all, but…they could not come up with a chorus. And then somebody in the background said “You can’t save the world in four minutes.” And I guess that’s how the chorus was inspired.

Oh my God, I wonder if they got a writing credit!

[LAUGHS] I bet not.

God. That’s crazy!

It is crazy! It is such a vulnerable thing though. I mean, I don’t write lyrics, but still…writing in general, I don’t want people to know how I do it. I write really stupid things at first, and then I edit it down.

Exactly. It’s touchy.

Definitely. So, if we fast forward to now, we’ve got the new album coming out, Fixin’ To Thrill. I think in your interview with ElectroQueer you called it a bit tougher than the other album?

[PAUSES] Yeah…


It’s tougher, but I think it’s actually less tough emotionally. It’s more beefy musically.

So a more crunchy, rockier edge, but not so much emotional?

Yeah, I think there’s a softer edge emotionally. Musically, some more…

Kind of a nice compromise. So is the subject matter still a bit cheeky?

Yeah, no there’s still some cheekiness, like “Get Your Titties Off Of My Things.” But there are a few more just emotionally bare songs.

Do you go for some super serious numbers?

Not too serious, come on…this is Dragonette we’re talking about. [LAUGHS]

I should have known!

Yeah, but I think there’s some more raw emotion, rather than the façade emotions of Galore. Not façade as in superficial, but I was kind of creating these images, some fiction and some non-fiction.

And this is more non-fiction.

Yeah, I think so.

Okay. I think the lead single isn’t a total departure, but it definitely is a bit grittier. How has the response been?

It’s been really good. Only good things, I guess. It’s been out for like, I don’t know how long, a little while, a short time. Playing it live, the response from the audience has been—I mean, we’ve only played it probably three times, but it’s been really exciting every time.

Good! And the album’s aiming for an August or September release?

Yeah, I think maybe start of September .We were done with the album like a couple months ago and then we kept writing some random songs and now we really like some of them so we’re trying to finish them up.

Oh, oh. So it’s not entirely concrete?

It’s done, but not done.

[LAUGHS] I hope you don’t keep us waiting for years.

[LAUGHS] No, no no! It will come out September, we’re just fighting the clock.

Are you going to do a supporting tour?

Yeah—end of September, beginning of October, we’re going on the road to Canda, the States, and Australia.

Oh, cool! Do you think we’re gonna see a second single before then?

Um, yes you should.


I hope you do.

Can you leak which song that might be?

Um…I’m not going to. Well, and also, because I’m not quite sure, because what if all of a sudden we finish one of these songs we’re working on and then everybody’s confused?

That’s true. You don’t want to mislead.


Well, that’s good! Alright, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans that have been waiting?

Um, I don’t know. [LAUGHS] Tell them Handsome says “Hi!” Handsome, my cat, is the inspiration for the lyrics in the song “Get Lucky.” When it says “Hey Handsome, we got it good,” I’m actually talking to my cat.

Fixin’ To Thrill is due out sometime in September.

Click below to hear more from Dragonette, and click here to visit their MySpace.

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