10 October 2018

Ladytron's new album is self-titled

Ladytron announced more details about their long awaited 6th studio album. It will be called Ladytron and it will be released on 15 February 2019 on !7K.

Track listing:
1. Until the Fire
2. The Island
3. Tower of Glass
4. Far From Home
5. Paper Highways
6. The Animals
7. Run
8. Deadzone
9. Figurine
10. You've Changed
11. Horrorscope
12. The Mountain
13. Tomorrow Is Another Day

06 September 2018

ClashMusic interview (2018)

For a while there it looked as though we had lost Ladytron.

The much-loved group covered Noughties digital pop in swathes of black, a stylish, artful project that merged terrific songwriting with a slew of fresh innovation.

Largely silent for seven years, Ladytron recently began to stir. Work on a new album is progressing, with the band recently sharing new single 'The Island'.

A brooding, dystopian return, its taut paranoia and synthetic feel is perfect for these unreal times, and comes equipped with a magnificent short film.

Shot by Bryan M. Ferguson in and around Glasgow, it opens with the birth of a humanoid, The Experiment, and we follow its troubled, threatened existence.

An intense yet beautifully shot clip, it's a sign that Ladytron don't just want to match past glories - they want to surpass them.

Watch the video below, then check out a full Q&A with Ladytron after the jump.

Ladytron have been away for so long, how do you go about assessing what the group means, and how it should sound in 2017?

Daniel: It was really quite basic. We decided in July 2016 to begin making a new album. five years from the last one's release. A few years later than we had expected. We began working on material and during that first phase it actually felt easier to be making a record after this amount of time, separate from chronology, or live shows or anything else. Then there's obviously certain things that strike you during the creative process - the world has changed tremendously in seven years, so have we.

But I can't say that we gave any conscious consideration to external factors in terms of how it should sound. We never do.

'The Island' recalls those stellar early singles, did you want to hone in on that electronic pop sound?

Helen: I think it was more a case of remembering where we came from, our strengths, and nodding to that time whilst also wanting to move our sound forward and develop as a band.

Daniel: To me it doesn't sound like the early days per se, as all of our albums had this sonic thread, but what is evident on the Island is that we approached this record with a blanker canvas than we have had for a long time. We were more free.

Recording sessions took place in the south of England, was this a productive time for the group? How was it to write another chapter for Ladytron?

Daniel: We were recording in the countryside near Cambridge, I've worked there before, but not for this amount of time. Staying out of the city was productive but it was a relief to return to dirt and chaos as a reward when it was wrapped.

'The Island' feels tied in to the current climate, to the general sense of disquiet many of us feel right now. Was this a personal song? Did any specific events – political, societal – spur its writing?

Helen: Yes, it is a personal song. It was triggered by an event in my own life, but equally it's broader than that trigger. I guess it's a cry for help, a call out to like minded people who are passionate about our world and where it's heading.

Bryan M. Ferguson is the perfect choice of director, were you fans of his work? Was there a lot of communication before the shoot?

Helen: A designer friend of mine actually gave me a link to Bryan's films, and i binge watched them immediately, falling in love with his sublime weirdness and heavy use of colour. I reached out to him hoping he'd be interested in making us something, and thankfully he was into the idea. His treatment gelled so well with the music and lyrics, i knew we were in good hands.

Glasgow is an odd but entirely successful base for this blast of sci-fi dystopia – was it always your intention to shoot there? Was the city's geography – or even weather! - an influence on the feel of the song?

Helen: That's weird, because i feel like Glasgow is the perfect base for a dystopian world. Bryan is based up here, as am i, so it was natural to film here. The shoot actually took place over the three hottest days this summer, so Glasgow and the outskirts are looking beautiful bathed in sunlight in the film. I think the sunny weather makes the visual even more creepy.

Daniel: For me, Bryan's film shows this banality of evil. That is amplified by the setting for those of whom it is familiar. If such a ghastly project existed now, in the UK, it would be managed by these kind of bored, dead-eyed, Serco employees. When I see something described as a dystopian future, it always strikes me that only those living in a very tiny bubble of privilege on this planet do not sense that we are already there.

There's a certain nihilism to the clip, do you feel this is balanced out by some lingering hope? What should we take away from such a potent visual message?

Daniel: It is heavy. I cried the first time I saw it. But it should be a reckoning. That in itself is hopeful.

How inter-connected are the themes on the new Ladytron album? Does 'The Island' act as a microcosm, or an outlier for the music you've created?

Helen: There are some definite themes that weave through, but it wasn't conceived like this. Only on listening back to the record, now that it is complete, did those themes become apparent. The Island is an emblem for the record, like singles always should be.


19 August 2018

Paper Mag interview (2018)

The second single teasing Ladytron's next album — the legendary Liverpool electronic act's first after a 7-year hiatus, slated for release in the first quarter of next year — debuts exclusively on PAPER today. Delivered in familiar Ladytron fashion, "The Island" feels like a nod to longtime fans who've been awaiting the group's return for so many years.

But like "The Animals," released in March, there's some subtle expansion of sound on this one. In fact, expansion is quite literal a description — vocalist and songwriter Helen Marnie tells us "The Island" intentionally affords space for crescendoing emotional effect.

The subject matter behind it certainly calls for it. In an interview with PAPER, Marnie explained how the song is both grim and hopeful — in part, a reflection of the push-and-pull of today's political and social climate.

What were you thinking in terms of sonic influences for the single?

We've been away for so long; it's been like seven years or eight years. [So] I wanted to write something that wouldn't scare people away, but also leaned on what Ladytron was good at and how we were before, but maybe introducing something a little bit different. I think "The Island" harks back to earlier Ladytron when we first started, right about 2002, 2003. I wanted it to be a bit more pop, but not pop in that cheesy sense of the word. That's why we've got high synths, arpeggiated synths, and things like that.

It's nice to hear something familiar, as someone who's been a fan for so long, but to hear hints of something new, too. It's not a huge departure, though.

No, I think that with "The Island" there's quite a bit of space, sonically. Whereas our last album I find a bit fuller. I think [the space can] build emotion.

Speaking of emotions, can you tell me more about the message? You referenced the disquiet that we all feel in a statement for this track. Can you elaborate on that?

If you read into the lyrics literally it's quite dark, I would say — quite bleak. But that's not really what I wanted to convey; that's not really how it is. It is a comment on all the social things that are going on right now, but I wanted to create a sense of disorientation, and maybe claustrophobia, which I think a lot of people are feeling right now. I think the lyrics are like juxtapositions. There's a lot of different things sitting together, but they're not necessarily agreeing with each other. I think everyone is feeling that disorientation and confusion. No one really knows what it is these days, and it's really hard to get the truth.

When you're talking about hitting the ground here, it feels very rock bottom. The lyrics mention sirens of the apocalypse.

Yeah, it's very much like that. Hopefully the only way we can go is up. It's just very trying times. But, you know, that's how things go. They go in cycles. Things do need to hit rock bottom in order for there to be resistance. I think that's basically the influence. Personally, it is personal as well, the lyrics. It's not just a social commentary. It's about me. But I don't really want to go into that.

I respect that. Can I ask, though, if it's personal for you specifically or is it in relation to the whole band?

Personal for me.

Okay. I wondered about the title, if the idea of the island itself is a metaphor.

Yes it is. [Laughs] I live in Scotland, so there's been a lot of things that have been happening here. I think that for the people that live in Scotland, we feel like we don't really have a say in situations. The UK is feeling quite small for me right now, and Scotland is obviously a part of the UK, but we're our own country, so I think it's also quite hard for us to accept certain things that are happening. So that's my reference to the island: We are this small place, and we don't really have a say sometimes. But equally, that's a bit political, and I don't want to go too political.

I can sense that you don't want to get too specific about politics. I respect that, but I do wonder where this is coming from...

Yeah, I think it's just unrest, really. And knowing that no matter how you act, how you vote, laws you pass, in the overall bigger picture, for Scotland it doesn't really make a difference to the outcome. That's the island. That's what I'm talking about. Just being this insular society that has a lot of control but is equally becoming more and more insular and small-minded.

Is there anything you'd like to mention about the forthcoming album?

Yeah. It's finished. It's being mastered now. We spent some time down in Southeast England recording it for about a month or so. I'm happy with how it's turned out. It took a while to get things right, but I think it's a good mix of Ladytron. I hope people will appreciate it. It's just exciting to finally have made it.

I'm definitely excited to hear it.

It's hard to know how people will react. But I like it. So that's all that matters. [Laughs]


16 August 2018

New single: "The Island"

Ladytron premiered a new song from their upcoming album. Here's "The Island":

08 August 2018

The 405 interview (2017)

A sense of urgency pervades 'Alphabet Block', the lead single from Helen Marnie's second album.

A synthesiser throbs under heightened lyrics about being led to a dead-end. What feels like a claustrophobic way to introduce an album, its chorus comes in and soars like a big inhalation of breath. The steely confidence of the song is the perfect beginning of her second album, Strange Words and Weird Wars, as she goes for the jugular.

After the alternative electronic outfit Ladytron took a hiatus in 2012, lead singer Helen Marnie decided she wanted to continue making music of her own. The songs she wrote, featured on her debut album Crystal World, were more melody focused with softer, atmospheric arrangements as she touched on personal matters and the natural world.

Strange Words and Weird Wars is a decidedly more direct affair. After feeling emotionally drained by what she put into the songs on her debut, she wanted its follow-up to be more fun, brasher and energetic. I spoke to Helen about what it's like creating on her own, drawing a line under her work with Ladytron and embracing her pop sensibilities.


The songs on Crystal World were directly influenced by nature and the elements. Would you say this record is more a combination of your personal life and political thought?

Each record is going to resemble where you are at a certain point. I felt a little bit emotionally drained by Crystal World; it was quite heavy and I put a lot of personal stuff into it. I deliberately wanted Strange Words and Weird Wars to be completely different. Even you saying that you can hear the difference is quite pleasing because I wanted it that way. There's still a lot of personal things, but it's less about the beauty of your surroundings and more about having fun, reflecting on good things or seeing good things in dark situations.

'Alphabet Block' really took me aback when I heard it - it's a total bop that leaves you feeling trapped! There's an ominous, almost claustrophobic, presence in its theme but then it has a big, opulent chorus. Did you want to create that dichotomy?

I must give credit where it's due. I worked with my producer Jonny Scott, and he has quite an influence on this one since it's a co-write. It's a juxtaposition of him and myself. The claustrophobic feeling - you've picked up on something. It's about a situation that you can't escape, and you're not sure what the outcome is going to be, but you have to get through. It's a juxtaposition of the darkness of the lyrics and the upbeatness of the music and the instruments.

Even the way you sing on it, it's like the lines are stacked on top of each other.

Yeah, it's so wordy! When I wrote it, I thought "Oh my god, how am I going to sing this?".

The title, Strange Words and Weird Wars, comes from a line in 'Heartbreak Kid'. Why did it fit the record?

That song was one of the first ones I wrote for the new record. I always saw it as the closing song. It's kind of sad but euphoric at the same time - it builds into a big crescendo, and it's quite hopeful. But then new songs came into the picture and sounded like the closing song too! The title just popped out at me; I didn't have any other contenders in the works because it was the one that made sense.

The instruments and synthesisers you recorded with sound a lot sharper and the beats sounded harder than your debut. Did you bring a lot of new equipment into this record?

That comes from working with an amazing drummer, Jonny Scott, which influenced the beats on the record. I'm a musician, but I'm not necessarily great at writing drum patterns. I think it's also to do with the production. The instrumentation is not that far away from Crystal World but we used the Roland SH-101 and the Moog Sub Phatty which is quite prevalent across the album. That gave the deep bass sounds. We wanted to create a fun vibe that was more danceable and more '80s influenced. Crystal World had more folk-tendencies and was very soft. I wanted this one to be more in your face.

One of the punchiest songs is 'G.I.R.L.S'. Who are the girls you're referring to on that one?

It's an imaginary girl! Or it could be me. It's funny because people who I've done interviews with have picked up on this one too, but it was actually one that I wasn't sure of putting on the record. When I wrote it and took it into the studio, it was quite flippant and throwaway. I thought it could be too cheesy. I think we tamed it with guitars.

It made it as the third song too! I did notice an article which said it sounds like Ladytron but I don't hear that at all...

Well thank you, you're the first person that I don't know who has said that!

Is it frustrating for you as a solo artist when people still expect to hear Ladytron in your work? To me, the only common threads between the band and your own music is that they both use synthesisers and your voice but everything else is completely different.

It's really frustrating. I get it though because people love Ladytron, well, some people love Ladytron! Somehow I think people need to separate my solo stuff from that. There's plenty of other artists who are in bands and they go on to do another thing and it's not compared in the same way. I don't why I seem to get the constant thing where it's compared even it's completely different. My debut was different, and this album is nowhere near Ladytron.

Do you think it's because you were the lead singer?

Well this is it. Do people just hear my voice and think "That's it, she is Ladytron!".

I've seen on your social media and other artists who have gone solo, anytime you announce a new project or single, somebody will write under it asking when the next band album is coming out.

Some people are desperate to hear more and don't understand I'm doing my own thing.

But it also means they like you!

Exactly. I can't be down on it too much. I get it, but at the same time, I think when you've put your own time, effort and money into something it shouldn't be attributed to something else. Often people will ask if Danny (Ladytron band-member) produced this album and I'll be like "No, Jonny Scott produced this". Yes, he did work with me on my last album, but that means nothing. That's the past, and this is now. I think it's hard for women in music and things often get attributed to the men that they're working with unfortunately. Not to say Danny didn't deserve credit for his part, he produced the first album but I wrote the songs, and I should be given credit for that which often isn't the case in reviews.

There's also a sense of nostalgia and references to your youth on this album, like 'Summer Boys' and 'Electric Youth'. Was there anything happening during the writing that made you reflect on your childhood?

I don't think so, I wrote those songs three years ago. I made a change of moving back to Glasgow from London in 2012. When you're writing you sometimes look at important periods of your life. 'Electric Youth' is about a fun time in my life and getting into trouble and being a bit naughty.

Do you feel more settled living back in Glasgow?

Yeah I feel great. I love Scotland. I wanted to move back long before I did but it wasn't the right time. Now I'm here I don't want to be anywhere else.

'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night' takes its name from the Iranian horror film. What struck you about the film and what did you want to create for the song?

The title is taken from the film but I have never actually seen it. What the song is about is not what the film is. The song is pretty sinister and really nasty. Even when I listen to it now, it gives me shivers. It's about a near-death moment where your life flashes in front of your eyes and you think "right that's a life gone". If you did something a different way what would have been the result. The album is quite full-on so there really needed to be a moment like that to let it breathe. It's important to show a different side. It establishes the first and the second half of the album.

Since you've been making records for over a decade now and this is your second album of your own, do you feel comfortable in your presence as a solo artist?

I think I'm getting there. I feel with this record that I'm more in control and I know what I'm good at. It's all a learning curve. If I make another solo record I'm sure I'll be insecure about that one as well. I think any creative person feels that. I'm more confident in my songwriting. I've proven to myself that I can do this and I'm quite good at some elements of it. I also like to collaborate and I think that can bring out the best in you. I really enjoy creating melodies and toplines, although I do write entire tracks too.

I remember you said before that you always felt like the cheesy one in Ladytron because you really love pop elements. Do you still feel like that?

No I really don't care anymore. I couldn't care less what people think of me. I think for a long time, going back to my days in Ladytron, if you mentioned pop it was like a dirty word. I don't think that's the case now. I think people have opened their minds now. I'm unashamedly pop now. Take it or leave it.


29 July 2018

The new Ladytron album is 99.9% done

Daniel Hunt posted that the new Ladytron album is basically finished and the band destroyed an old Echoplex (tape delay effect device) during the creation process.

The album is 99.9% there.
We killed this along the way.