Originally published in Spinner, May 29, 2012
Scissor Sisters are looking to have a very busy summer both here and abroad. In addition to their own show dates in the U.S., beginning June 15 following the release of their new album, Magic Hour, the group is also going to perform in London in late July in a very unique setting.
“We’re playing a musical festival in a run-up to the Olympics,” co-singer Ana Matronic tells Spinner. “So they’re having what they called the River of Music all along the Thames at historical sites and we’re at the Americas stage, which just happens to be at the Tower of London. That is so crazy. To be able to have that opportunity to do things like that is yet again something else that exceeds any dream that I had had with this band. I feel so, so fortunate to be able to do this and to get to have fun while doing it.”
And the fun and good times continue for Scissor Sisters on Magic Hour, which was recorded fairly quickly in contrast to its 2010 predecessor Night Work. Matronic credits the burst of creativity to the band’s other co-singer, Jake Shears, particularly for his work on the musical version of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.
‘[Jake] wrote over 50 songs for the musical. He literally went to boot camp and had the most hardcore songwriting experience,’ she says. ” I think that did a lot to boost his confidence in the studio, that he just knew exactly what voice he wanted to use and what he wanted to say. ”
The album’s single is the uplifting “Only the Horses.” Matronic says she wondered what the song was about when she heard it. “I worried that people would not understand,” she says, “but then I started thinking about some of my favorite bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, who wrote these beautiful, amazing, rather nonsensical songs. You didn’t know what [Ian McCulloch] meant by ‘kissing the tortoise shell,’ but you were like, ‘Yeah! I’m right there kissing the tortoise shell too.’ It was just one of those songs that has this expansive feeling to it.”
Another standout track is a dance song called “Let’s Have a Kiki.” It has an answering-machine spoken intro from Matronic, in which she describes about a club getting shut down by the cops, thus moving the party home. So it begs this question: What is exactly a ‘kiki’?
“The term ‘kiki’ is a drag queen term,” Matronic says, “and it’s used in the drag community in America to describe a good time. You can have a kiki on the phone with your friend. It also means gossip. Or you might hear a conversation where somebody says, ‘Did you go to the club last night?’ and you’re like, ‘Wow, girl, you should have been there. It was a kiki.’ It would mean that your friends were all there and you had a good time.”
Aside from Scissor Sisters, Matronic also collaborated with Duran Duran on the song “Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)” on their recent album All You Need Is Now. That opportunity came about through producer Mark Ronson.
“I was expecting to go into the studio and it would just be and Mark, and very mellow and low-key,” Matronic says, “but then I walked in and there were Simon [LeBon] and Nick [Rhodes]. It was just so amazing. It was of those moments that I was really nudging the 10-year-old inside me saying ‘Look at this. I bet you had no clue this was gonna be your life, did you?’ I worked with them and I worked with New Order, who was also a huge band for me growing up. To be able to collaborate with people who have literally shaped your aesthetic — it goes beyond dreams.”
It’s been almost a decade now since Scissor Sisters released their breakthrough self-titled debut, and while the band has an audience in the States, it’s a totally different story over in the U.K. where they are hugely popular. Matronic attributes the difference between Ameican and Bristish tastes to two factors.
“The first and most important thing is that we were really championed by DJs [in the U.K.] who have radio shows. Pete Tong was the first person to play Scissor Sisters on the radio before we even had a record deal, so we were really kind of taken under the wing of some real tastemakers in this country and these people have a country-wide audience. Another thing is that dance music is much more popular in the U.K. than it is in the States. People in the U.K. really like to hear a variety of sounds on their regular radio stations. That said, we had some really great success in the States. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Magic Hour is available now via Casablanca records.