Dragonette Premieres 'T-Shirt' Video Ahead of Comeback Album

Dragonette Premieres 'T-Shirt' Video Ahead of Comeback Album

Dragonette (AKA Martina Sorbara) returns this Friday, October 28, with her first album in six years, called Twennies, reflecting on a transformative chapter in the 43-year-old songwriter/producer's life. In that time, she experienced the global pandemic, became a first-time mom and watched her massive 2011 single, "Hello," have a well-deserved second life on the Billboard Dance/Electronic charts.

Following lead single, "New Suit," which Sorbara described as a "power-pop pep-talk" that mixes together retro sounds with more modern visuals, Dragonette released the LP title track, "Twennies," alongside an official music video. Today, Dragonette tees up her long-awaited comeback with "T-Shirt," featuring a hook you'll be repeating over and over: "I wear your t-shirt a lot."

Speaking on the spontaneous nature of the song, Sorbara says, "This song started out with Donny playing a bass line and everything else happened so fast that I can barely remember the process of writing it. Every songwriter has had the experience of leaving the studio to get a drink or take a pee and inadvertently coming back with one of the missing keys to the song. I have a strong memory of that with the chorus of this song."

She continues, "But I literally have no memory of writing the verses. It’s like they pre-existed the session. Every songwriter has that experience as well. The result is feeling like you just got given a present, out of nowhere, and it’s not even your birthday. I love this song for its lush cuddle of warmness while lyrically it most definitely does not want to cuddle."

Check out the PAPER premiere of "T-Shirt," and a conversation with Sorbara about the making of the video, songwriting and strange gifts.

I love the way intimacy is explored throughout the visual, especially physical touch. What was your experience like translating the lyrics and vibe into a visual medium?

Making the video for this song was an exercise in dodging the literal and finding creative, figurative ways to illustrate the story. Which I guess is common practice for tackling the visual depiction of many songs. But "T-Shirt" has such a specific and unique take on the, "No, I don’t love you," theme that we thought any literal visual needed to be consciously avoided. So instead, in place of the protagonist, is a huge inviting, if not slightly ominous, looking bouncy castle, that attracts its "victims" and thoughtlessly absorbs them.

You said that the songwriting process was a blur. How do you get those ideas out before they’re forgotten?

I use the Notes app on my phone a lot. I write down little thoughts and words that I think will inspire me when I sit down to write a song. But those little pieces of inspiration are more often jumping off points. They are rarely the lyrics that make me proudest when I have a song I wrote that I love. Those little bits sneak up on me. Sometimes the words come before you even understand all of their potential meaning and you have to let them sit there, while you look at them from all the different angles. Then you start to get the picture of what they mean by exploring their details and the details fluctuate. In the beginning, the chorus of "T-Shirt" was just, "I wear your t-shirt a lot," over and over. And because it hit me so hard, I thought that was enough. And it was, until it wasn’t. So we filled it out with only a couple other simple lines that fill out a meaning without hitting you over the head with it.

You recently took the stage with The Knocks at one of my favorite venues, The Brooklyn Mirage. What was that like?

It's always so fun to pop in for a guest performance with friends. There's much less stress or pressure. And that venue is so over the top. It's like a concert-themed amusement park. I was there performing for Pride this past summer as well and it was heaving with a veritable sea of topless, hot people. So fun.

That "I wear your t-shirt a lot" hook is infectious. Do you remember your first memory of cherishing (or hating) a piece of clothing you got from someone else?

An ex once came back from a trip to New York City with a belt that he had bought for me. It was fake leather, I think. Pepto pink, with a faux denim print on it. It honestly was one of the ugliest, most ill-suited gifts I'd ever received. It really made me question a lot of things. Firstly, WTF? Followed by, "Has this guy ever met me?" At the time I didn’t know this, but he was doing an inordinate amount of philandering and I think, in retrospect, it was a hasty impulse purchase to make himself feel better about whatever he’d been up to on tour. The hilarious thing is how long I felt obliged to keep the belt, never wear it, yet still pretend it was a reasonable thing to give me.

With your new album out this week and all that you’ve experienced, from the pandemic to raising a young child, how has the approach to Twennies differed from your past projects?

Making this album was so different than previous albums in that it honestly almost felt like a different line of work. Firstly, having a baby when you do something as self-involved as being an artist, is a real wake-up call. Up until then, you can indulge any creative whim. It's so luxurious not to love something more than your own life. You have so much time to just care about yourself and your desires. But once you put a kid in the mix it throws all your priorities and self-reflection out of wack. There's a learning curve to loving someone that much and then trying to keep on caring about all the other stuff as much as you used to. The whole mess of it is like an extreme sport. But it also makes the time that you dedicate to yourself more distilled, more fleeting. It's not endless anymore. You have to make the most of it, which is the way this album was made. Instead of doing it over months and years, It was done more in a matter of weeks, for the most part. I think that's what makes this album feel so focused to me. It is a pure distillation of a very beautiful and important time in my life.

Photos courtesy of Shervin Lainez