Interview: Now established, Dragonette spreads its wings

Some of you might not be very familiar with Dragonette’s music catalog, but you’ve most likely heard lead singer Martina Sorbara’s voice. She provides the vocals on Martin Solveig's hit “Hello,” which reached No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured in ads for Trident Vitality gum.

If you didn’t know who was singing on the dance club hit — whose music video has earned over 47 million page views but doesn’t show Sorbara — don’t worry. Most people didn’t know.

“When we play the song live people will say, ‘I didn’t know that was you,’” Sorbara said Monday. “A lot of the (club) audience are passive music listeners. They will like the song but are not going to buy it and check out the artwork. Of all the genres, that’s the most detached — club music. Not all of them are flippant, but a lot of the time they don’t know what the artists look like or what their album covers looks like.”

Fortunately for the members of Dragonette, the Canadian electro pop trio that will perform Saturday at the Congress Theater with Major Lazer and Chicago rapper Rockie Fresh, they weren’t relying on the song to help them survive in the music business. The band features Sorbara, her husband and guitarist Dan Kurtz and drummer Joel Stouffer. It has been around since 2005, when it released its self-titled EP. Since then, Dragonette has released three studio albums, including 2012’s “Bodyparts.”

(Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton paid the band a high compliment when he tweeted in November that “Bodyparts” “is the album [No Doubt] should have made but didn't!”)

Sorbara admits there were times she questioned whether the band would make it, but she said it was a performance at Lollapalooza in 2010 that eased some of those fears and helped make her feel like Dragonette belonged.

“Lollapalooza was surprising,” Sorbara said. “We weren’t used to having tons of people in our audience. Sometimes we would go to a city we’d never been to and not a lot of people would be there. We were prepared to have 40 people at (our stage). It was really nice. I remember feeling like, ‘Wow. This is what we do.’ I think it re-eneregized us for the rest of the tour. I think that tour, we felt like we’re not just a Canadian band.”

Because the band features a husband and wife, you would think there’d be a boudary separating their work life from their personal lives. As the saying goes, never take your work home with you. Sorbara and Kurtz, however, not only talk about work at home, they also recorded the band’s last album there.

“That’s how it’s been since day one,” Sorbara said. “It’s not even blurred lines. There are no lines. It’s intense. It makes stepping out of work difficult. But we haven’t had to make any hard rules like ‘No talking business.’ There have been times where I’ve said ‘It’s 11 p.m. I don’t want to talk about this right now.’ That’s the only kind of way we control it.

“Maybe we would be more successful if we took (an occasional) break from each other, but we’re not good at that. We like being around each other. When we do take a break and go somewhere, we’re still emailing each other and talking about business.”

The band members are too busy to take time off. Their tour will take them everywhere from Cleveland and Royal Oak, Mich., to Barcelona, Spain, and Zurich in the next two months.

“This is a pretty fickle business,” Sorbara said. “It’s hard to feel a permanent sense of security. I still have my doubts. I don’t ever feel like Dragonette has made it and will be a sure thing forever. I just feel lucky that people have been paying attention to us.”

lgomez@tribune.com

Dragonette, Major Lazer and Rockie Fresh
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tickets: $24.99 at congresschicago.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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