Dragonette's Got Groove "Galore"

"When we arrived in England, we were kind of the golden kids for 15 minutes," Dragonette's Dan Kurtz explained. "Everyone was into this thing called Dragonette, so we got asked to do a ton of stuff. One of them was to write a bunch of songs to see whether they would go well on Kylie Minogue's record. I've heard some of the stuff that did go on her record and realized the stuff we had written for her [didn't have] a hope in hell that it would be on the same record."

- Dara Hakimzadeh

posted November 16, 2007

Dragonette\'s Got Groove \

     Martina Sorbara and Dan Kurtz have experienced a lot of changes in the last two years. Sorbara and husband Kurtz created a new electro-pop band, Dragonette, with Will Stapleton and Joel Stouffer, recorded an album, opened for acts like New Order, Duran Duran and Basement Jaxx, got signed to Mercury Records/Universal Music and then moved the band to the United Kingdom.

     While the band was in Ottawa recently to perform at rock bar Zaphod Beeblebrox, Kurtz said the latter of the changes was an interesting adjustment to have to make.

     “When we arrived in England, we were kind of the golden kids for 15 minutes,” he explained. “Everyone was into this thing called Dragonette, so we got asked to do a ton of stuff. One of them was to write a bunch of songs to see whether they would go well on Kylie Minogue’s record. I’ve heard some of the stuff that did go on her record and realized the stuff we had written for her [didn’t have] a hope in hell that it would be on the same record.”

     Instead, the band might use two of the songs they created for Minogue on their next album, he added.

     “I’d never written a pop song before ‘I get Around’ – the first song on our record,” he continued. “We decided we were just going to write songs the way we liked them and either we’re not good enough to custom-build songs for other people or it’s just not actually something we’re out there to do.”

     The sudden rush of fame also got the band members in contact with Will Young, the first winner of Pop Idol, the British originator of American Idol. Things didn’t seem to work out with Young either, but the band did find some success.

     “We wrote a song for Cyndi Lauper’s next record and that was fucking great. The combination was perfect and we had a great time with her,” said Kurtz. “As a general rule, we’re not professional songwriters.”

     Kurtz said writing with Sorbara has allowed him to expand his creativity, which was curbed while working as a bassist with the Canadian electro-funk band The New Deal.

     “I was never able to write a song because a) most of it was instrumental, b) some of the songs were 20 minutes long, and c) they [were] all written together on stage,” he said.

     ”I was playing with The New Deal last week and I felt like, ‘God, we’ve got to change now. We’ve been doing this for 40 seconds,’” he joked. “’We’ve got to get out of this!’”

     As part of Dragonette, Kurtz also changed his instrument of choice from the bass to the keyboard.

     “I’ve never written a song for Dragonette on the bass and I’m a terrible keyboard player,” he admitted. “All of that stuff starts on the keyboard and that way you make accidental discoveries to come up with cool stuff. Otherwise, you rely on habits. I’ve played bass for longer than I’d like to say now and would always find myself doing the same thing.”

     Sorbara also expressed her boredom with using the same tools to craft songs.

     “The guitar and piano were my writing tools and I got so bored with my habits and the sorts of things that would come out when I put my hands on the piano or put my fingers on the fret board. Sitting down in front of a computer with some random beat and some synthesized sound, you’re completely free to start from the other side of the world,” she said.

     During the week of September 24, the band’s most recent studio effort, Galore, was released in the UK and Canada and reached #88 on the Canadian charts. Leading up to the album’s release, the songs “I Get Around” and “Take It Like A Man” were released as singles in the UK.

     “When we started it, we just wanted to see what could happen. We weren’t listening to any genre police. We thought we’d write fun songs, and every single song started not knowing where it was going to end. We just wanted to have fun,” said Sorbara.

     “You can’t really discern an identity for this band from two songs on the record,” added Kurtz. “We got signed after [creating] three or four songs and we didn’t know what we were doing or who we were; we just knew we wanted to write songs. We now have confidence in what we do and I think it’s a broad range.”

     Kurtz added that, as a band, they’re unsure of what they’ll create next.

     “Our next record could all sound like ‘Get Lucky,’ that little jazz song in the middle of the record, or it could all sound like ‘True Believer’ – an electro-record. We’ve decided we’re not a one trick pony and we’re never going to be,” he said.

     In October, the band concentrated on promoting the album in Canada and trekked across the country in a van. Kurtz and Sorbara agreed that this has been the best way to get their musical message across to the public – not just the chart-watchers.

     “When you play in a band at this level and at this time in the music business, you have to take every opportunity you can to play,” said Kurtz.

     “A great show is the goal,” added Sorbara. “You go through all the crap because that’s what you want. All you want to do is feel awesome on stage.”