Wednesday, July 18

Q&A: Dragonette singer/songwriter Martina Sorbara talks touring life, success after hit single “Hello”


Electro-pop trio Dragonette will co-headline a show with Australian electronic duo the Presets at Avalon Hollywood.

Electro-pop trio Dragonette will co-headline a show with Australian electronic duo the Presets at Avalon Hollywood. Kristin Vicari


Since its studio debut in 2007, Canadian electro-pop trio Dragonette has experimented with sound, rhythm and lyrics to create a mellow electronic vibe familiar to fans of indie pop. Led by songwriter and lead vocalist Martina Sorbara, the group received critical acclaim for its third studio production “Bodyparts” and won a JUNO award for their 2011 hit single “Hello,” a collaboration with Martin Solveig that helped propel the trio to international fame. On May 21, Dragonette will co-headline a performance at Avalon Hollywood with Australian electronic duo The Presets as part of its North American tour. Daily Bruin’s Shreya Aiyar spoke to Sorbara about the touring life, the success of “Hello” and bringing emotion back into music.

Daily Bruin: You’ve had huge success with “Hello” and collaborating with Martin Solveig back in 2011. Has that success changed the way you approach your music?

Martina Sorbara: I think it did, but not in a super healthy way. It was like, whoa, big song, and we were like, are we supposed to be this (way)? It actually just took some practice and recalibration to get back to that (mentality) of, oh … this is what we do as Dragonette. It’s not a thousand-mile difference, but it’s not the same thing and it doesn’t need to be the same thing. So yeah, for a minute, we were questioning like, what, is this us now? But thankfully it didn’t last, and obviously it was great for us, but … for me, it was kind of removed from us.

DB: What’s the inspiration behind the album “Bodyparts” and its title?

MS: I just saw the word written somewhere. You know how your brain shifts things around? My brain does, and I just all of a sudden saw the word not as a macabre, gruesome thing but as something more musical and physical and sexual. I started writing a song called “Bodyparts” but I wasn’t happy enough to put it on the album when the time came, but … it was about how when we come together as one, when we add up all our body parts, things are better.

DB: How is “Bodyparts” different from your previous albums “Fixin’ to Thrill” and “Galore”?

MS: This one was definitely more homemade and had less outside input…. It was more isolated. We really did just make it at home and I think it took a long time because of “Hello” and getting the idea out of our minds that we weren’t supposed to write 11 number one hits. And also, I kind of had this really clear feeling that I wanted to have more sunshine, more lightness in the music. When we were writing (the album), dance music was on the rise and taking over all the radio stations, and rock stations were just dead. I was just really sick to death of it. I think the whole world is sick to death of it. You can tell that dance music has stagnated. People are still throwing stuff out the wall to see if it sticks, but you can tell … something else is on the rise, and dance music is going out. I felt like I was reacting to that and I just wanted to have some sunnier (music).

DB: You’ve just released a new single titled “My Legs.” Would you say the title fits in with the whole “Bodyparts” theme in a literal sense?

MS: Yeah, totally. When the song “Bodyparts” didn’t make it onto the album, I felt that “My Legs” was kind of the backup justification for that. I really wanted to have the album title be “Bodyparts,” so I just thought, maybe I can have a song called “My Legs.”

DB: You’re known for collaborating extensively with many artists including Martin Solveig, Kaskade and Don Diablo. Who would be your dream collaboration, alive or dead?

MS: We did a tour with Major Lazer in March, and I really love how eclectic they are and I think that would be cool to get an interesting (collaboration) with them. That would be amazing. I really like how open they are to doing anything and everything.

DB: What can we expect from an album in the future?

MS: You never really know what’s going to come out. Thinking about it now, what I want to do … I don’t know, I’m just really enjoying singing the slow songs off the album. I know that this part of Dragonette came out of being really bored of singing pretty, and I wanted to do different things with my voice and not always sing beautiful things. That was the mandate before. Now, I just kind of miss that (powerful) side of singing and working my voice in that way. If I could do anything, I would go back and invoke a more emotional (side) of things.

Email Aiyar at [email protected].

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