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Toronto electro-pop trio performs for 101 Week event at Confederation Park

Andrew Ikeman | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Justin Labelle

JUNO AWARD-WINNING electro-pop trio Dragonette kicked off 101 Week with a bang at FedFest on Sept. 1. The Toronto group—composed of frontwoman Martina Sorbara, bassist/producer Dan Kurtz, and drummer Joel Stouffer—played to a raucous crowd at Confederation Park. The Fulcrum was able to sit down with them before they took the stage.

The Fulcrum: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Kurtz: Martina calls it “basement pop,” which is like pop music made by an indie band. We pretty much put everything but the kitchen sink in it. Sometimes it sounds like an electro band, sometimes it sounds like a rock band, sometimes it sounds like a pop band.

What are your musical influences?
Kurtz: A long time ago we would say bands like Daft Punk, and The Police, and Blondie. I think it starts with really memorable pop songs that stuck in our heads so much since we were kids, and we were like, “Hey, I want to write songs like those,” 15 years later.
Sorbara: I’m attracted to good songs—well-written songs. That comes first for me, and production is kind of secondary. I think that these guys listen to music more for production and what’s going on in the track. I just want to hear great stories and lyrics, and interesting formulas and arrangements.
Stouffer: I think that the synth thing is probably mostly to do with the fact that it’s the cheapest way to make everything sound big. You don’t have to get a studio and an orchestra and lots of guitar amps; you just load up a synth and it sounds big, and it’s immediately satisfying and exciting. I think that’s kind of where it started for Dragonette.

You released your new track “Rocket Ship” exclusively on SoundCloud. Why did you decide to release it in that format?
Sorbara: I guess we weren’t trailblazing that one, but it’s really fun to be able to just release something without any ceremony, without having to make the plans with whoever’s going to release it. It’s just like, “This is our song, we fuckin’ wrote it, and here it is.” It’s very immediately gratifying without having to go through the motions of a formal release. That’s the benefit of music having gone this kind of way of being totally invaluable [laughs]. It’s that we get to be a little bit less precious about it.

What can we expect from your new album, Bodyparts, later this month?
Kurtz: Bigger, better, a little bit faster. The tempo range is pumped up maybe five BPM [beats per minute] on either side.
Sorbara: Are you serious?
Kurtz: Yeah, it’s a bit faster overall.
Sorbara: It doesn’t seem like that to me.
Kurtz: Oh it is.
Stouffer: That’s because the music surrounding us is also faster—you don’t notice it. It’s all relative to you.
Sorbara: It’s a fun album.
Kurtz: I keep telling everyone who asks me: I think it’s the best album we’ve ever made.

If you were a type of cereal, what would you be?
Kurtz: We would be Martina’s mom’s homemade granola, which she makes by the garbage-pail size, and we survive on it.