Supporting Acts: Nightbox Dragonette
So a folk singer and a electro-bassist walked into a bar at a Halifax guitar rock festival, and what happened next? They got drunk, danced, fell in love, formed a band, got married, danced some more, abducted a drummer named Joel, ran away to London, England, and never looked back. Okay, so as bar jokes go it’s a little flat. But as a life story, it’s been a pretty thrilling ride for Dragonette, a parallel musical universe in which pop stars knit woolen hamburgers, electropop grows a heart, jetsetters can be homebodies and jet lag is an abstract affliction for those who stay in one time zone long enough actually feel the next. With the release of the first single from their 3rd album, Dragonette prove once and for all what die hard fans have known since 2005 – that together they are so much more than the sum of their separate (and very shapely!) parts: Dan Kurtz and Martina Sorbara are marrieds, songwriters, business partners, best-frenemies, co-conspirators, hometown sweethearts and a mass of cultural contradictions all rolled into a single tasty, tangy pop package – who glow with a combined energy that’s both forward-looking and nostalgic, homely and cutting-edge. They are not so much couple as a place where friends, family and fans come to rock out – throwers of dinner parties, performers of concerts, joke-tellers and lyric-inventors they are, above all else, people who live to give the people around them maximum pleasure. Drummer Joel Stouffer fits into, and adds to, this energy perfectly. As for the new album, long time followers of their music will recognize all the hallmarks of a sound which, in the past couple of years, has taken Dragonette around the world and platinum: Layers of addictive supporting ethereal melodies and that voice – Sorbara’s psychosexual purr, like Ricky Lee Jones trapped in Lady Gaga’s erotic dream. After years of frenetic touring Dragonette fled the wet chills of London in November 2011 for the humid thrills of Rio, where they holed up in a family flat (Kurtz is half Brazilian) to ignore the delights of the world’s sexiest city in favour of isolation and songwriting. The two months that ensued were, according to Kurtz, one of the most surreal periods in a remarkably varied life. “A small civil war broke out between the ‘trafficantes’ [drug gangs] and the police while we were there and the military rolled in. Rio was on lockdown for a few days/weeks. It was crazy to watch the helicopters circling the battle zones while we sat out, drinking wine and playing cards on the terrace.” In the midst of all this chaos, Kurtz and Sorbara wrote two of the album’s most accomplished songs – Lay Low and Let It Go. Perhaps due to self-imposed isolation, there’s not a tropical Latin beat to be heard in these two tracks. Instead what we get is a mad energy and (dare we say it?) emotional honesty pushed forward by the driving beat that has made Dragonette a dancefloor standard from Ibiza to Idaho. The tracks were then wired to Toronto to be sprinkled with Stouffer’s characteristic groovy dust and voila!—a new album was in the works. After the success of 2008’s album Fixin to Thrill, and wild international popularity of their 2010 single Hello (with French DJ Martin Solveig), Dragonette have graduated to more complex, sophisticated sound, one that has all the trademark hooks of their earlier electropop hits combined with a new depth of feeling – the peripatetic touring musicians’ search for home. “Apart from Rio, most of the writing was done at our house in London in our tiny green studio with our two cats sleeping through the noise in the window,” says Kurtz. Sorbara laughs. “We spend our life on planes to crazy nightclubs, but really our favourite place to be is home,” she says, “It’s our dirty little secret.” “Don’t tell anyone,” says Kurtz. Sorbara puts her finger to her lips. Shhhh.
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