It had been 16 years since John Dragonetti had called himself Jack Drag when he dusted off the largely solo entity to release the aptly titled album 2018 last year. The Submarines singer and co-founder had released four full-length albums under the moniker from 1995 to 2002, based out of Boston. The return was a welcome one… both for Dragonetti himself and for fans, with lead single, “Little Lies [feat. Aimee Mann and Dylan Gardner], racking up over two million streams, airplay on KCRW and guest appearances from Belle & Sebastian’s Sarah Martin on vocals and Mike Sawitzke of The Eels/Dispatch assisting with horn arrangements and mixing.
After The Submarines released their 2011 album, Love Notes/Letter Bombs, Dragonetti turned his focus to composing for film and TV, including the 2018 comedy All About Nina, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common. It’s still where Dragonetti focuses most of his attentions.
A new Jack Drag EP, Summer of Cuts and Bruises, is set to drop August 30 on Burger Records, to be preceded by lead single, “It’s Something” on August 9, with an animated video by Cult Of Dang. The title-track, which Dragonetti stated is about “standing tall in the face of romantic sabotage,” features Morgan Kibby (M83/White Sea) on guest vocals, with bass and cello from Gabe Noel.
John Dragonetti shelved the Jack Drag name for 16 years, reigniting it after a spark of inspiration for last year’s 2018. Here, Dragonetti and animator Danna Grace Windsor (Cult of Dang) give us their thoughts on the wild new video for “It’s Something.”
—Josh Modell, Talkhouse Executive Editor
Every project begins with colors. I think what drew me in to “It’s Something” initially was the sharp contrast between the melancholy and the joy. There was something really “pure-blue” about the sound… and then it kind of broke free? Into this golden sound space? It’s hard to explain, but you can hear it. Once I actually listened to the lyrics, everything connected. This simple darkness within us that John was describing with the song was very relatable, especially as an artist. You just learn how to live with it, and sometimes it overwhelms you and it just surrounds you. THAT SOMETHING. I tried to capture that feeling with the animation, telling a story about an artist chased by her own creations. There’s a whole world to the music and I really wanted to enhance that with the surrealness of the characters, like some sort of bad dream that ends content.
— Danna Grace Windsor, Cult of Dang
I first saw Danna’s work in a friend’s music video — which I thought was impressive on its own — but once I dug deeper into her animation, I was really blown away by how beautiful and otherworldly it was, and on so many levels. The colors, the characters… It was such a pleasure to see her interpretation of the song come to life. In a way, she had a better understanding of the song than I did! When I’m in writing mode — which usually coincides with recording and producing the track simultaneously — I tend to let things flow in the most natural way possible, occasionally reminding yourself to not overthink. Lyrical meaning — if there is any — usually evolves over the course of producing the song. What surfaced for me on “It’s Something” (behind the cheeky questioning verses) was a longing for solid ground: love, strength, compassion, really knowing who you are. Which, I think, is more essential than ever in this era of manufactured chaos.
— John Dragonetti