Ana Matronic has a Kiki (sans Scissor Sisters)
Let’s have a kiki, will not be the words uttered from the mouth of Ana Matronic, the female vocalist from the pop-glam rock band Scissor Sisters, to her fellow band mates.
Why? Because while Scissor Sisters is on hiatus, Matronic is working on her solo recording project that is far more fun and important than styling and profiling on stage with Jake Shears, Babydaddy, Del Marquis and Randy Real.
After four albums with Scissor Sisters, Ana is using this time apart from the band boys to, as she puts, be creative with her music that will be make her more intimate with her audience as a solo artist. That of course is for the time being because this hiatus is not an official band break up.
How could the band fall apart after reaching such international heights with its club anthem song "Let’s Have A Kiki," the unintended single from the Scissor Sisters’ 2012 album "Magic Hour?" Giving each of the band mates to work creatively on their own individual projects, the Scissor Sister hiatus is giving Matronic an opportunity to parlay the unexpected success of "Let’s Have A Kiki" into self-expression workshop, if you will.
Without having to compromise her own creative freedoms as required by being in a band, Ana into her weird and dark side of music and hopefully "punish" us with the results. Independently produced with her husband Seth Kirby, Matronic’s solo effort will be released in latter part of 2013. She has recently been testing out material from the upcoming (untitled) album at events such as the recent mega gay circuit weekend in Palm Springs, White Party.
Working on the album is only one of the side projects Ana Matronic is happily working on with her hubby. As a psychedelic light artist, Matronic has been collaborating with Kirby and his light project, The Joshua Light Show, which is currently touring across the U.S. and allowing Matronic more opportunity to dawn her liquid light art and test the waters with her new song material along the way.
With the Joshua Light Show making some stops in the Bay Area of California, Matronic is making good use of her time in the area to stop in San Francisco for a Shall We Kiki? Show and Party hosted by legendary drag superstar and longtime friend Juanita MORE! on April 28. This, of course, gave me an opportunity to pre-kiki with Ana to chat about her upcoming solo project, the overwhelming success of "Let’s Have A KiKi," her psychedelic light project, and ending the Scissor Sisters break-up rumor.
A trapeze act
BeBe: I’m definitely going to get into the meat of the potatoes and start on a high by saying I heard that you worked Jeffrey Sanker’s White Party in Palm Springs out over the Easter Weekend and were nothing less than remarkable. That’s what I heard on the streets, and that’s where we got all of our good and dirty news, you know?
Ana Matronic: I love that. Thank you so much! It was so fun. I really tried to put everything out for the children there, and give them something that nobody else would. And, hopefully I delivered.
BeBe: Well, apparently you did. What I want to know from you is that you have spent so much of the last decade performing with three wonderful guys of Scissor Sisters, how is it going solo?
Ana Matronic: It has been really fun. With Scissor Sisters because there are so many people on stage, and because I’m not the lead singer, it was like doing a high-flying trapeze act but you always had a net. As a solo there’s no net. So, I got to keep my balance and keep my eyes on the next thing swinging my way.
BeBe: A lot of people, well at least I do, forget that you with Scissor sisters have been doing this for like 12 years. That’s easy to forget since you guys are always fresh from album to album, year to year. I’ll be out in the scene with some of the ’youngins’ in their early 20’s and they think Scissor Sisters is a new group. How do you keep fresh so that you don’t get jaded and avoid becoming a cliché where we say ’remember them?’
Ana Matronic: I do get a lot of that, too, especially in the U.K. I’ve started getting people coming up to me and saying ’oh my God, I’ve been listening to you since I was a kid.’ And, I’m like how old are you now!? (we both roar with laughter) Please tell me you’re 15. But about staying fresh, it’s really just about the kind of music we’re into. As a group, Jake (Shears) and me especially, have always really been into dance music. For me dance music never sounds old and stale. Even songs like ’Plastic Dreams’ (Jaydee) which is one of my favorite house songs of all-time. It never sounds old to me.
So, I think there’s something about dance and electronic music that very much sounds like the future and sounds fresh. You have to keep one ear on the things you’ve always loved, and one ear on the things that are challenging. I’ve always like music that is a bit challenging, weird, and dark or, one of my favorite adjectives, "punishing". I like to be punished a little bit by whatever I listen to (said under a little devilish chuckle).
Having a ’Kiki’
BeBe: I hear that, girl! Now, let’s talk a bit about the punishing song ’Let’s Have A Kiki.’
Ana Matronic: Okay. (I wonder how many times she has heard that question?)
BeBe: First, you’ve already had a anthem of a song when Scissor Sisters did ’Filthy Gorgeous.’ That had that anthem-type rebellious feel to it. We’ve all grooved to it. The queens have done their drag to it. It was that type of a song. But ’Let’s Have A Kiki,’ girl, (Ana happily laughs under me statement) has done some phenomenal damage to the history of music. I know as a songwriter you never write with the intention of any song becoming something big. You write from what you feel and go with it. So, with that, how amazed are you with how the public has taken to the song making it now apart of our pop culture?
Ana Matronic: There really are no words to describe the feeling. It’s a very, very steep elation mixed with gratitude. It (’Let’s Have a Kiki’) is something that came from the heart, truly. On every album, we write a song about our environment or our friends or people that inspire us. ’Filthy Gorgeous’ is the one off the first record (’Scissor Sisters’) which was all about San Francisco, and had the cheeky, campy energy to it that felt very San Francisco to me and the band. There’s an energy to ’Kiki’ so fun and distinctly New York, and really ended up being one of our most popular songs.
It was never intended to be a single, so the fact that it blew up in the way that it did shows that you can never predict what’s going to be popular or what’s going to be successful. It had everything to do with the fact it was embraced by particularly drag queens and deejays. I’ve actually seen that song turn a party from one where people were just milling about to a dance party. It’s just one of those songs you can’t really say anything (why successful) other than it was a magic combination of sound, lyric, and sentiment. And, we nailed it! It makes me happy. It is so much fun to perform. I’m not sick of it yet.
Her solo project
BeBe: So, as a band you’ve reached this high point, and you have definitely had others over the years, but now you are working on your solo project due out later this year. As an artist that has gained so much notoriety and success in a group with a sound we have grown to love, how much pressure, if any, have you felt trying to do this solo project and develop your own Ana Matronic sound and identity? Are you feeling any pressure?
Ana Matronic: Definitely! And I think the pressure, luckily, is coming from within because I’m not attached to a record label. And, after having the experience of being in Scissor Sisters, I really get the chance right now to make the music I want to make. When you’re in a group there is always a great deal of compromise that you have to exercise. And, I became very, very good at compromising (laughs). For me, this (solo) project is about creating an intimacy between me and my audience with the music.
BeBe: Well with the gay boys coming back from White Party with a glowing report on your performance there, I’m sure we can expect the energy to continue to grow in expectation of your solo album. That is exciting, I’m sure, but can be also scary. ’Cause you know how we gay folk can be, girl, with our expectations?
Ana Matronic: Oh, yes! Oh, yes! (both laugh)
BeBe: We will hail you to the ends of the world when you are great, but honey, we will let you know when you fall.
Ana Matronic: (Thunderously laughing) It’s a bed of thorns!
BeBe: You mentioned ’Filthy Gorgeous’ and it being about the San Francisco scene, and I don’t the young people out there realize that you have roots in San Francisco. I remember when you used to perform at legendary drag performer and producer Heklina’s ’Trannyshack.’ (Matronic was a former Miss Trannyshack finalist)
Ana Matronic: Yes, I was picked up by a tornado and it landed in San Francisco. I landed on some evil (drag) queen, and I grabbed her shoes and I took her place. Really, my entire life San Francisco has been a beacon for me. I used to go there all the time growing up because my father lived there. Then I lived there for 3 years before I moved to New York. ’Trannyshack’ to me is, and always will be, my performance college. It is my Dagobah system, if I can use a Star Wars movie reference. I guess that would make Heklina my Yoda (the laughter follows)! She ain’t that old.
BeBe: The reference is directed to her wisdom. It has nothing to do with her age.
Ana Matronic: That’s right. I suppose Juanita MORE! is Obi-Wan Kenobi.
BeBe: Yes, because she (MORE!) has that style.
Ana Matronic: For sure! And, the wisdom.
Shall We Kiki?
BeBe: Now in addition to your music, and of course the up coming solo project, you are also involved in light projects you work in tandem with your husband, Seth Kirby (and Brock Monroe).
Ana Matronic: Yes, the Joshua Light Show. This solo project has been really fun because I’m working with my husband, Seth, on the music and the visuals. He is really the ace up my sleeve. He is incredibly artistic and a technical mind all wrapped up in one very tall, handsome package. It’s been so gratifying working with him. We love working together, too. I’m coming to San Francisco with the light show which is another aspect of the stuff that I do on my own. The Joshua Light Show has been a psychedelic light show since the Fillmore East in the 60s. I am the self-appointed Lady of the Lake. I make psychedelic light imagery using liquids, water colors, oils ad everything in between. So while I’m in the Bay Area with the Joshua Light Show I thought I’d make the best use of my time and put on a little show in San Francisco with Juanita called ’Shall We Kiki?’.
BeBe: Knowing of this light project, I’m sure you and Seth will be working on quite the light show during your performances with your solo project after it comes out.
Ana Matronic: Most definitely!
Scissor Sisters not over
BeBe: I know how difficult it can be for individuals from a popular and successful group (to venture out). I know Jake has done some stuff on his own including providing the lyrics and score for the musical adaption of Armistead Maupin’s ’Tales of the City,’ but it can be difficult sometimes to get your own individuality out there and receive the same reception as you do in a group when you finally do (get the chance). For some reason it is hard for us to take the whole of something and divide it up into it’s individual parts with the same adoration.
Ana Matronic: Yes. I can definitely say that the Scissor Sisters is not over. We are just taking a little break and polishing the gems.
Ana Matronic joins forces with Juanita MORE! To present a night of outrageous glamor, ferocious music, and psychedelic fantasy featuring music from Ana Matronic’s upcoming solo album and the Joshua Light Show with Shall We Kiki? On Sunday, April 28 at Public Works in San Francisco. For more information go to www.ticketfly.com/event/242377-ana-matronic-shall-we-kiki-san-francisco
For Ana Matronic’s upcoming album release and tour dates follow her on twitter at www.Twitter.com/MsAnaMatronic
Watch the Scissor Sisters instructional video for "Let’s Have a Kiki";