Rockscope - Dragonette Interview - October 23, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA
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Dragonette Interview

October 23, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA

By Wei Shi

"...here you are and your record company is telling you you're gonna be really famous so go and be awesome and it's like, "Ok guys I'm not awesome yet. Sorry, could you give me a year or two and then I'll try my best to be awesome?""
What is the process of writing and what inspired you on that album?

I guess it's generally Dan starting out with a beat or synth or something and then I go – we change places and he goes up and like washes the dishes and I go into the studio and try to put something on it that takes the song a step further. It's just kind of like one piece at a time like a building block and that's why it's never like, "Ok we're gonna make this song and it's gotta look like this. So let's start from here and we're gonna end here." So it's kinda like one piece and then the next piece and the next piece and all of a sudden there's a song taking shape and it's kind of telling us what it's gonna be as opposed to us fixating.

Where are you based now because I heard you moved to London to record Galore?

We recorded this album there too and in Canada. Both were recorded in Toronto and in London and part of every place we were on the way just randomly on our computers but mostly in Toronto and London. And um, this album was done kinda really at our house --all the writing and most of the production. The big stuff was recorded in a big studio but Fixin to Thrill was mostly in our shotty little home made studio. Haha.

I noticed that the song Fixin to Thrill has a harder sound while another song on the album Pick Up the Phone, for example, has an airy softer sound. Did you set out to create this juxtaposition?

It's just what happened. I think a lot of the songs on Fixin to Thrill have a lot of grittiness and heaviness. It's bigger and meatier but all in all I think the sentiment in most of the songs are a lot more emotional or vulnerable or softer. This album is definitely more vulnerable. I think on Galore I was trying to represent more people because it was my first experience of being in a band and feeling like it's not just me.

How is that a different experience from before when you were...

Solo? Well, solo you're just like, "Ok, let me gouge out my insides and see what rugged and emotional feelings I can expose to the world. And so then with the band I felt like I could go broader and tell less distinct or exact stories. I think with Fixin to Thrill it's sort of a step back to where I was before so that's where it becomes more emotionally tied.

Your band has been around since 2005 and you've been getting increasingly popular. Your songs are now on CSI and you know, The Hills.

We made it! We finally made it! Haha.

Haha. How do you feel about that? Do you worry about becoming too commercialized? Where do you draw the line?

We're so underground. It's like --I don't see it as a danger at all. I guess if it was ten years ago people would be like, "You guys are sell outs," or something. Haha, I don't know. But actually, we don't make any money because music doesn't make any money anymore. So sometimes if someone asks us, "I want to use your song in a show," it's like, "Ok, then if you use our song in your show then we can afford to go on tour and that's great." You know what I mean? That's just the way that it is. I mean, obviously we're discerning enough. I don't think that everything we've chosen to put our songs in is the epitome of integrity but it's not like I would be so ashamed to have my song associated with that. Generally it's just awesome to have someone be like, "I like your music. It's a good song and I want to put it on my television show that, you know, I work probably on as hard as you work on your music.

So it's more like a collaboration?

Yeah yeah. I think there is definitely somebody I would turn down but I can't even imagine – I'm not judgmental in that way. It's not like, "Oh, I'm too cool for that."

Does the band have an ultimate goal or direction?

I don't know. I mean, emotionally we can only have baby step goals. I think that our goal now would be to get to a place where we can tour all over the world and not be afraid that no one will be at our show or something. I think it's kind of happening now – compared to the last record. We have a huge fanbase in the ether – like on the internet and our songs are being played in the clubs all around the world.

I first heard you guys on the Kitsuné Maison compilation and I was like, "Oh my gosh. This is pretty cool."

Exactly, but for us it was still materializing. It was still just a couple of songs floating around the world. So with touring it was like is anyone gonna care? And is anyone gonna wait for a follow up record? And then we made the follow up record Fixin to Thrill and it was actually really well received and we've seen a difference in playing the live shows. Just being able to put that out and not feel petrified of going to Kansas City where we're gonna be next week and being like, "Who the hell is gonna be there?" That's the farthest I can think of right now as far as progress.

What's your favorite part about performing?

I actually really like being on tour. If you're asking specifically about being on stage…?

Yeah, do you get nervous?

No, I don't get nervous except sometimes um... I actually haven't felt nervous in a long time. I was at the beginning of this tour because of the new songs but the first show after rehearsing went fine and now I'm ok.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Beer. Actually, the guys drink beer.

Haha what kind?

Generally whatever they'll give us. I drink vodka. I think that we're a very relaxed bunch of people. I actually just recently started not allowing myself to drink icy beverages before going onstage.

Your videos are really funny. Do you like that aspect of music – making music videos?

Yeah. I think once I took ownership over it it became much more fun and felt more like a creative outlet. I think when we – I love all our videos.

The Fixin to Thrill video is pretty badass. Especially in the end when you're waving the torches.

The whole video was just me and my best friend, Wendy Morgan, who's done a lot of videos for other people. It was just us going to town creatively just being like --talking like we're talking right now and laughing hysterically and, "Oh my god, what if we did this?" "Ok that's good. Write it down! Write it down! We're gonna do that." We often have these hilarious ideas of random crap --not hilarious as in funny but just like retarded. One time we were obsessed with making videos of each other licking our hands

Like a kitty?

Like licking ice cream. We'd sit in front of someone that didn't know what's going on and I'd take a video of her licking her hand in a public place. It's just ridiculous. This (Fixin to Thrill music video) was kind of like that except that we actually had funding and someone making costumes so it was a realization of our goofy ideas.

What was the concept for the Pick Up the Phone video?

All these bad influences, the blonde girls, convincing me to do all this stuff and it looks beautiful but it's actually destructive. We're fucking shit up.

That kind of goes along with the lyrics too.

Yeah, yeah. And at the end of the video they were all imagined by me and I'm influencing myself to do all that stuff.

What's one of your most embarrassing stage moments?

You know that nasal squirt? It's like for if you have congestion? I realized it makes me crazy high and weird. It just kinda kicked in towards the end of a show and I started just sweating.

We were opening for this band called The Most Serene Republic. They are on the same record label as Broken Social Scene and they're kind of like the Broken Social Scene, and I think they kind of want to be Broken Social Scene. So I was on stage and I was introducing them because they were playing after us. Between us, we called them - as a joke - The Most Serene Social Scene. Anyway, in my total haze I was like, "Stick around for The Most Serene Social Scene," and they're all standing in the audience. As soon as it came out I was like, "Oh my god, I have to get off the stage. I am like sweating and high off of pharmaceutical drugs."

I didn't realize I was saying it because my mind was not there. I didn't even know if they caught it but I felt so bad 'cause they're really nice people. That was the only time that I've gotten off stage and was like, "Oh my god. Oh my god." And it's totally not a big deal and probably nobody even heard it. But for me that was my worst nightmare, and I'm telling you and now everyone knows.

What are some of your oddest past jobs?

I've really been doing this forever. I guess I've once spent the summer folding fliers.

What sort of hobbies do you have?

I'm knitting a hamburger [pulls out the hamburger in progress from her bag]! I knit profusely. I never stop. It drives everyone crazy.

Ok, so pretend I'm James Lipton. What's your favorite curse word?

I have so many. I say cuntlips a lot or cockmeat. I like things that I make up on the bus that don't make any sense.

So like jibberish?

Yeah. I can't even do it right now.

Pretend you stubbed your toe.

Oh, franceburger! Haha. Or like coffeecat or something. I've been trying not to use cuntlips or cockmeat as much because it's a bit crass.

What's the biggest challenge as a band?

I guess finding security in ourselves? Having confidence? It was kind of rocky in the beginning and it's taken us a long time to feel like we love our band. I think that any band that is developing generally has…you start a band when you're however old and then you write songs and get better and play some shows and maybe someone notices you and you get a record deal. I was already a seasoned musician and Dan was as well and we wrote a song, I Get Around, that was one of the first songs we wrote. Then all of a sudden it was like ok we're a band right now.

I guess it took a while for us to find our solid feet and really have a three dimensional image of who we are and what we want to do. Probably a lot of bands have that because it's so fast like ok here you are and your record company is telling you you're gonna be really famous so go and be awesome and it's like, "Ok guys I'm not awesome yet. Sorry, could you give me a year or two and then I'll try my best to be awesome?"

So did you feel a lot of pressure working on the second album?

No. I felt pressure but just pressure from myself because I really wanted to write songs that I love and I wanted them to resonate with other people but I didn't feel like, "Oh, it's gotta be good otherwise nothing is gonna happen."

Do you think the second album is a better representation of yourself?

No…yeah. Well, it's a less interrupted representation of us.


Thanks Dragonette! Upon the end of the interview, I asked if I could get a Polaroid of Martina with her knitted hamburger. She was nice enough to oblige! Fixin to Thrill is available on digital release right now.



Dragonette @ The Echo - October 23, 2009 - Los Angeles, CA - By Wei Shi


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