We had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters in studio. Nexus Radio mulls Mizz Matronic on the meaning behind the Scissor’s hit anthem “Let’s have a kiki”. Ana also talks to us about her band’s collaboration with Calvin Harris for the song “Only The Horses” and she does a funny interpretation of Calvin’s production style which she dubbed “the rave cliff”.
Ana Matronic’s stage name was derived from the word “animatronic” which was inspired by a drag show she did once as a robot. This electro Diva has a serious tech-sci-fi streak to her as she was raised in the 70’s and was a big fan of Star wars, Bionic Woman and Battle Star Galactica. She even has a circuitry tattoo on her upper right shoulder to prove her Bionic-ness!
Nexus Radio: I’m sitting here in studio with Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters. Welcome to Nexus Radio!
Ana Matronic: Thank you for having me. It’s lovely to be here.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. How was your flight into Chicago?
Ana: It was a little grueling actually.
Nexus Radio: A little grueling?
Ana: Yeah. It was a little grueling. We hit bad weather right as we were supposed to land and the plane didn’t have enough fuel to keep circling so we flew to Indianapolis.
Nexus Radio: Oh wow.
Ana: Refueled and came back. So I was supposed to land three hours before I did.
Nexus Radio: Oh wow.
Ana: I’m sure tonight at Roscoe’s, we’ll make up for it.
Nexus Radio: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Ana: It’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s Pride so –
Nexus Radio: Of course.
Ana: All shall be forgotten.
Nexus Radio: There you go, exactly. So do you get to come to Chicago often or have you been here? I’m sure you’ve been here a few times.
Ana: I’ve been here quite a few times with Scissor Sisters and have always had the best shows here. Always.
Nexus Radio: Let’s talk about your show. Let’s talk about the Scissor Sisters and the latest hit which is “Let’s Have a Kiki.”
Nexus Radio: It was featured on Glee and Sarah Jessica Parker had went in there and sang it. Did you guys see it as a song that was going to be a hit or what was your inspiration behind that song?
Ana: We never intended “Let’s Have a Kiki” to be a single or to be released so its success was very, very surprising. I don’t know if I was necessarily surprised by its success because it has all these great ingredients to it. But you just never know. With songwriting, you can have a song that you think is going to be a huge hit and doesn’t work and then you have a song like “Let’s have a Kiki” that just organically takes off and that’s what happened.
The inspiration for the song was Jake and I both love having house parties and we both throw really good house parties and our tour DJ, Sammy Jo, very regularly uses the term “Kiki.” It was a word that had been bandied about a lot more in our circle of friends so I came into the studio and Jake said, “What do you think about “Let’s Have a Kiki”? I just thought “That’s great. I think that’s really, really great.” He had already laid down – he and baby Daddy had already laid down the chorus and then we wrote three verses that were all a lot like the “A Kiki is a party for calming all your nerves,” so that’s how it originally started out. It was with three verses.
Then I came in the next day and Jake said, “What do you think about doing a spoken word intro?” We started listening to some inspirational songs from the 1990s that had weird samples or things from movies and you’d think to yourself, “What is that? Or what is that from?” You can’t do those anymore because you can’t sample anymore. So we wanted it to have that sort of energy of just like “What is this?” So I called Baby Daddy’s phone which he hooked up into Logic, recorded – so I called Baby Daddy’s phone and it was recorded from his phone as a microphone into the Logic session and I just sort of riffed for a while. After a few sessions, we pared the whole thing down into the story that it is now. But that was based on an actual night where I went out to a party. My husband, Seth, was doing lights and I was performing and it’s this great party called Spank and they do different parties in different locations all over the New York. So I went and it was raining and it was a deluge, like crazy, crazy rain. I got there and the cops were there and they had shut the party down.
Nexus Radio: Wow.
Ana: I managed to blab my way in by saying I was there doing lights and if they let me in, I can help break down the lights and I can get the party dispersed faster. That actually worked and I got in and then had the world’s quietest number and lip sync. It was really funny. But we sort of turned that into a story of “Why am I calling and saying it’s been a bitch tonight? Well, it’s raining,” and then it went into the rest of the song. So it was based on an actual experience of mine.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, that’s very cool. It seems like you guys – and that was one of my later questions in this interview. You guys have a lot of fun with the music that you put out there and I think a lot of people like it because of the fact that it doesn’t sound like everything else that’s on radio. It doesn’t sound like everything that you’re going to hear. I love that you pull a little bit of disco in there and a little bit of pop in there and a little bit of rock. I mean you throw everything into it.
Nexus Radio: Do you see it when you guys go into the studio? Is it just having a lot of fun and putting your experiences into it?
Ana: Definitely and we let the music tell us where to take it as well. That’s something that we’re very malleable about and with. If it doesn’t sound right in one particular way, we’ll switch it up and try it in another. Yeah and some things happen very organically. It can sometimes start with Jake on the piano or a bass line that Baby Daddy comes up with or somebody brings in a song that’s inspiring and we just say “I like this groove and I like the way the high hats hit at this one point” and you rip it off and see what comes of it.
Nexus Radio: See what comes of it. Yeah, that’s very cool. Your latest album was dropped last year. It was called “Magic Hour.”
Nexus Radio: I believe it was your fourth album, correct?
Nexus Radio: It had “Let’s have a Kiki” but it also had “Only the Horses” which you guys collaborated with Calvin Harris.
Ana: That’s right.
Nexus Radio: How did that come about? I mean in the last year he has really soared to the top in terms of DJ’s. Did he come to you? Did you guys go to him? Was it something that happened accidentally?
Ana: We went to him actually. We had done a tour with him last year in January in Australia. He was sort of the headliner of the tour. It was a dance music festival. Every night we would finish around the time that he would go on so we would see him DJ and he is the master at what I call the Rave Cliff where you are going and you’re dancing and it gets really high and then it’s going and it’s going really high and oh my god, can it go any higher? He’s really good at a Rave Cliff and we just saw him day after day taking these crowds of thousands of people up and down and up and down. Is it time for another cliff? He just has this euphoric approach to his music and we had written “Only the Horses” and we were struggling with the production of it a little bit. It was missing something. We would listen to it and we would just be “Yeah? Yeah, okay. There’s something that doesn’t feel quite there yet.”
So Jake had the idea of giving it to Calvin and he did what no one in the band had ever thought of doing or whatever really consider doing which was to take the beat completely out of the chorus which was pretty inspired. Him taking it out means when it comes back in, it has that amazing sense of euphoria and huge, huge expansion. So it really gave the song legs.
Nexus Radio: Yeah,
Ana: Horse legs.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, there you go. Well, I mean it was also a hit on Nexus Radio along with “Let’s Have a Kiki.”
Nexus Radio: We loved the album and obviously loved Captain Harris. I guess a lot of people probably ask you how you got your name.
Nexus Radio: Ana Matronic.
Nexus Radio: How did that come about because it’s a very unique name?
Ana: It is. I have a very, very deep lifelong love of robots and science fiction. So I’ve always really liked those sorts of things and I was two when Star Wars came out, right?
Nexus Radio: Okay.
Ana: So I grew up in the 1970s. Bionic Woman was on TV, Battlestar Galactica, lots of really great sci-fi. So I’ve always been into that and I was in a drag show in Portland, Oregon in 1995 I think and it was Halloween of that year and I was dressing up as a robot and I was doing a performance to a remix of Bjork’s song, “Human Behavior.” I was describing my performance to my friend, Michael, and I said “Oh yeah, this is what I’m going to wear and I’m going to move really robotically and like an animatronic puppet.” We both looked at each other and we went “Oh my god. Ana Matronic. That’s your name. That’s what it has to be.” So from then on, it just stuck and that was the name that I performed under and was a nickname as well.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. Well, it’s a very interesting story. I actually did read it in your bio but I wanted you to tell me that. I also read that you have a tattoo on your shoulder that has something to do with –
Ana: Yes, this big, old thing is circuitry, yeah. It’s my bionic arm. I have a very deep affinity for the Bionic Woman.
Nexus Radio: Yeah.
Ana: For Jamie Summers. She’s my muse. One of many.
Nexus Radio: If you guys could see this right now, I mean it literally has wires and gears and all sorts of circuitry in there.
Ana: Yeah. The gears just got added actually. It needs a little bit of love. It needs to be shaded and retouched.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. It looks good though.
Ana: I’ll get it done very soon.
Nexus Radio: All right. So how about you? Let’s talk about you and where your career is going. Obviously the Scissor Sisters are huge.
Nexus Radio: We love them and they have a cult following I would say. Is there ever a time where you feel like you want to be a solo artist and you want to go out there and put your own stuff out there?
Ana: Well, it’s funny that you should say that, Nexus Radio, because I have been working on a solo record over the last year and it’s been really fun. It’s been really gratifying. I’ve been working with my husband, Seth, on the music, on the visuals, on everything actually. So he’s my production partner and then my very dear friend, Juan Carlos Caster and I have been collaborating on the visual side of things with photography and branding and logo and all that stuff. It’s been really fun. Hopefully the record will be out this year. There’s been some – in life, there’s always some little hiccups and hurdles here and there. So I’m really hoping to have it out this year.
Nexus Radio: Is there any information that you can give us regarding the album that nobody knows about? What’s the feel of the album?
Ana: Well, not a lot of people know that the record is entitled “Afterlife of the Party.”
Nexus Radio: Okay.
Ana: So it is about the spirituality of a good night out and I think especially in the gay world, night life is very, very important. A gay bar to many people is the only place that you can truly be who you are. In a lot of small communities, a gay bar is the only place you can hold your partner’s hand or kiss them in public without feeling unsafe or being threatened. So there’s a real spirituality in the gay world that is tied to dance music and that euphoric sense of letting yourself go and letting yourself be who you are. So that’s the sort of energy that I’m tapping into with the record and it’s definitely designed for the dance floor.
Nexus Radio: When you were a child, what was it that you wanted to do? Did you always know that you wanted to sing or be a part of a group?
Ana: I was a total ham child and I knew I wanted to be a performer from a very early age. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be Katherine Hepburn or Ginger Rogers or something like that. Actually that’s where I got my start. I was more into dram than music growing up. But yes, you can thank Miss Piggy. She was my original inspiration.
Nexus Radio: Really?
Ana: Oh yeah.
Nexus Radio: Wow.
Ana: Yeah. I think The Muppet Show was a big inspiration because you saw the show and the numbers and then there was the backstage hijinks.
Nexus Radio: Yeah.
Ana: I still have that fantasy of going to work every day and work as this theater and you have a star on your door and that’s your room and you get ready and you do your show and that’s your little home away from home and your family.
Nexus Radio: Lady Gaga has little monsters. Curly has moon babies. What are your followers called?
Ana: As far as Scissor Sisters are concerned, we just call our fan base, sisters. But we spell it S-c-i-s-s-t-e-r-s. So, Scissters.
Nexus Radio: Scissters.
Ana: As far as my fans go, I just like to call them fans and I’ll let them name themselves if they’d like to name themselves.
Nexus Radio: There you go.
Ana: Well, I guess technically people who follow me are called Nuns.
Nexus Radio: Wow.
Ana: Because it started when I gave a shout-out once to the monks and the nuns of the Scissorhood on stage. This was early on in Scissors – I think it was probably 2004 and then some of the fans in the audience took that on I think to mean monks and nuns of me personally. I don’t know. I’m their Mother Superior somehow.
Nexus Radio: Very cool.
Ana: But none of my nuns have to be married to Jesus.
Nexus Radio: There you go. All right. One last question, what is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Ana: Oh god, that’s a good question. CTFO.
Nexus Radio: CTFO?
Ana: Chill the fuck out. I really love being at home. I love being with my husband and my cat and I love gardening.
Nexus Radio: Cool.
Ana: Yeah, so I have a little domestic goddess streak in me too.
Nexus Radio: Hey, that’s all right.
Ana: Yeah, I like to grow things and I like to pet my cat.
Nexus Radio: Very nice.
Ana: And my husband.
Nexus Radio: And your husband. Well, if you want more information for the group, Scissor Sisters, you can always check out their website, scissorsisters.com. Do you have your own website?
Ana: I do. Animatronic.com and I’m on Twitter a lot.
Nexus Radio: All right.
Nexus Radio: All right. Make sure that you tweet, Ana and –
Ana: Yes. Msanamatronic.com.
Nexus Radio: Msanamatronic.com and I have to say that we appreciate you coming to Chicago and kicking off our Pride for us because it’s you and then the Pride Festival and then the parade.
Ana: Oh, that’s going to be so fun. Scissors were here last year for Pride on Pride Sunday and it was the fun-nest show we’ve ever played in Chicago. It was just so fun. So I do have high expectations for Roscoe’s tonight.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, well, it should be a lot of fun. Thank you so much for coming tour studio.