Last Thursday I got to chat with the lovely Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters about their highly anticipated new album “Night Work” which drops on June 28th. I just have to say that I had so much fun chatting to her. Ana has always been such an icon to me personally and getting to chat to her about all things Scissor Sisters past and present was really a treat.
In this EQ interview with Ana Matronic, we talk all about the infamous Robert Mapplethorpe butt shot artwork for “Night Work”, what is was like collaborating with Stuart Price on the record, why Scissor Sisters have more UK appreciation here in Britian versus America, and Ana tells us a funny little story about that iconic performance they gave us in the way of The Brits in 2005. Enjoy!
EQ: Well Hello Ana and welcome to EQ – thanks for taking the time to do this today. Where are you calling in from today?
Ana Matronic: Hello Raj! My pleasure! I am in New York City – it’s a beautiful day!
It’s all starting to kick-off again with the third album “Night Work” taking flight very soon. Tell me how excited you are…
I’m SO excited. We were feeling ready about six months ago so we are chomping at the bit to get back out there again- it’s gonna be so much fun.
Now you’re one of those New York bands that is WAY more famous in the UK versus America. I’ve always wondered what your thoughts were on why Scissor Sisters are more are more cred in the UK versus your home country…
Well I think the first and biggest thing is that there is a real sort of national listening audience identity in Britian that isn’t as strong in Amercia. There’s a lot of difference between the kinds of music that people listen to over there is seems. In America, we don’t have radio like you do in the UK where there are DJs that love music – who champion records, who reach everyone in the country. We don’t really have DJs like that in America – we have people like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh – I don’t think those are DJs. I don’t think you can consider them DJs. That’s definitely the biggest factor. I really think that in the UK, you guys really enjoy showmanship, you enjoy fun, you enjoy intellectualism and you enjoy eccentricity. In America, they see someone who is intellectual and eccentric and they see that as threatening. I don’t think Scissor Sisters are scary to you brits…[laughs]
Totally! Now I have a theory why everyone in the UK loves Scissor Sisters and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – so do chime in…
I’d love to hear it!
Well there are four of you and all four of you are so different and I think there is someone you can fancy in Scissor Sisters – no matter what your type. Some guys may like Baby Daddy, others may fancy Jake and his often nakedness and Del even has his loyal followers who love his look. And there are lots of Ana Matronic fans for the guys and girls too…
Yeah! Well hopefully it goes beyond fancying members of the band [laughs]. I hope there are some musical reasons why people are into us as well! But yes, what I think is cool about my band-mates is that it wasn’t a calculated thing. I really enjoy that we have three guys in our band and show that there isn’t just one way to be a gay man and there isn’t one way to be a HOT gay man. It’s really great to me. I enjoy being a strong woman and flying the flag for women who like to use their brains as much as they like using the other organs on their bodies.
[Laughs] Now last time I chatted to Del, he was working his solo record and he said to me that for the next tour he wasn’t going to wear those tight body suits anymore because he wanted to eat more cake! Now I notice you are looking rather hot and slender lately too, so – will there be lots of cake eating on this tour?
[Laughs] Well I’m actually going to the gym a lot more than I ever have in my life so I don’t know…it’s really all about balance. You have to be careful not to indulge too much because you can wake up one day and suddenly your stage clothes don’t fit like they used to [laughs]. But yeah, it’s gonna be nice, maybe I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I’m going to tell you anyways – Jake is bringing his trainer on tour. [evil laugh]
Yeah! So I think we are gonna have someone to whip us into shape if we over-indulge. AND, what I’m really excited about is that we are bringing two new and amazing backup singers on this tour – Kristy and Bridget…and Kristy is a yoga instructor. So we’ll be balancing our chi before going out on stage and I have a feeling that will lead to some really amazing spiritual experiences in our shows.
Nice to see that you are taking a balanced approach for this tour!
We kinda have to because we really give it all on stage and this album is our most energetic yet, so we gotta keep it up for the children.
How is the tour going to be different from other tours?
We are gonna take our time to plan out something that is simultaneously spectacular and intimate – that’s really important to us. In the past we felt like we were a victim of time and weren’t able to give people something that executed the vision we had. If you in a crunch for time, you never get exactly what you want – and we want to get exactly what we want for this next tour. It’s gonna be good – You will have eight very enthusiastic people on stage – very excited to perform for you…we definitely try. It’s a real joy and I know so many people who would kill to be where we are so you better fucking like it – you better have fun!
I’m excited definitely! Now Jake let us in on the sound of “Night Work” and he told us it’s more electronic, which of course pushes my buttons…but that was like three months ago. How is the sound actually shaping up now with the record close to release?
I definitely think it’s more electronic and has more of an eye for the dancefloor. There are some more harder, rockier songs on there as well. I really feel like it is a return to form. I really got back to place with Jake and Babydaddy that I felt we hadn’t been at since the first record. Just because we were traveling and touring so much – so much had happened, our lives sped up. We weren’t really given the time to recover from the first tour and get back to that right place with the “Ta-Dah”. I really feel like we found each other again and when we did, we were older, wiser and better. Better musicians as well and I hope that shows.
Now – whose idea was it to use the butt-shot for the album cover?
Guess! I’ll give you ONE guess [laughs]
It has to be Jake.
It was Jake of course! We went back and forth a lot on the album cover. We all agreed we wanted Robert Mapplethorpe – we just weren’t sure which one. I wasn’t really sure about the butt in the beginning. But – the BUTT won me over in the end! God that sounds really terrible [laughs]. The butt won me over in the end. I think it’s really great and I love it now – I feel honored that we are using Robert Mapplethorpe’s imagery in our campaign.
Now you worked with Stuart Price on this record – how has the journey changed since you’ve involved Stuart for the new album?
I felt like the journey got more direction with Stuart Price. It felt like we were driving a car and the wheel’s weren’t really aligned and he came along and gave us a GPS. It was a really really amazing experience – so much so that I wonder if we could ever work with another producer – it really was that good. He is definitely a Scissor Sister and someone who we loved and adored for so many years and we will continue to work with him in the future – I’m sure.
I haven’t heard the record yet, but like everyone else, I’ve heard “Invisible Light” and I love it – amazing electronic sound on it. Tell me a little bit about that song…
That is probably one of my favourite songs on the record – if not THE most favourite. That was a really beautiful day in the studio with me, Jake and Babydaddy. We had been writing in the studio all week and it was one of those songs that just wrote itself. It started with the music then we wrote the chorus first which had different lyrics other than “Invisible Light”. Then Jake wrote the verse and that’s where “Invisible Light” showed up first – in that verse. Then we liked it so much and put it in the chorus. Jake and I wrote the second verse together. I wrote the very end of the second chorus. It was one of those great synergistic moments where it seemed all our planets were aligned as it were. Babydaddy and I worked on the music initially but it then got transformed and beefed up by Stuart in the end…it was really just a great day in the studio. I love that song – it’s a heady, fun trip down the rabbit hole.
“Fire With Fire” has a real Elton John feel to it – that’s really how I describe the record – is there any Elton John influence there?
I’m not sure – I think that’s another song that wrote itself. Jake and Stuart started that song and Babydaddy joined in and it just built itself. I think any time you hear a piano and Jake’s voice – you kinda think of Elton. Just because there is a very similar timbre in their voices and there is a similar soul I think to their delivery. I’m not sure if Elton was a direct influence, but he’s there in a lot of ways.
One of your defining moments for me was in 2005 when you opened the Brits with “Take Your Mama Out”. For me, I loved Scissor Sisters from the beginning, but after I saw that performance with the puppets and the costumes – that was when you were put on the map for me. I was wondering if you could tell me how you guys were feeling right before you did that performance…
It was really really amazing. I’ll tell you a little story actually. Something really awful was going on while I was in that egg – waiting to pop out. That egg was covered with silver lame fabric which has metal threads in it. I had on a radio pack to hear what was going on – with my in-ear monitor. Because I was in this giant tin foil egg, there were these searing electronic signals basically running through and piercing my brain!
OH MY GOD!
If you can just imagine the worst feedback you ever heard and stick it in your ear – that’s what was going on. The crazy thing was I couldn’t turn down my pack or remove my earphone because I had to hold the doors closed on the egg – if I didn’t the doors would have popped open too early. I was SO excited to finally come out of that FUCKING egg so I wouldn’t be tortured by these searing sounds in my head. Then once I was out, I was more excited to be at The Brits. Being at The Brits was like being at a dream…you’re like “oh my god, I recognize that person”. It was like being on an episode of The Love Boat.
Well that’s all my questions, thanks Ana. Any closing words for EQ readers?
Keep it fierce kids and I can’t wait to see you all on tour!