I don't even know if it is possible to convey how THRILLED I was at the opportunity to interview Ladytron. Specifically, vocalist Helen Marnie. I've been a fan of this band ever since I purchased the Commodore Rock EP, and have been consistently impressed with every new album. Yes, I realize I didn't actually get to talk to her and this was all over email, but stop trying to rain on my parade, alright?
The band's winning streak looks to continue with their latest album, Velocifero, due out in the US on June 3rd.
Have you always wanted to be in a band? What did 8 year old Helen want to be when she grew up?
When I was a kid I either wanted to be an actress, a model, or a singer... Of course, when you realize you'll never grow past 5'6″ that's one dream shattered. Then, after a few drama classes I realised I wasn't the best of actresses either. After university I just fell into the band thing. It was a chance meeting, and next thing I know I'm in Ladytron. I guess it was what fate had in store for me.
A lot of the band's influences are fairly well-known – Roxy Music, My Bloody Valentine, etc. What bands & singers have most directly influenced you as an individual?
I always find this question really difficult to answer because obviously over the years there is so much stimuli which makes it hard to decide who or what influenced you the most. I think I've probably been most influenced by dreamy female vocalists from different eras and genres. Ranging for the operatic queen that was Maria Callas to the unusual vocal styles of Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell.
This album feels 'heavier' than any other you've done. Was that a concious decision or more a natural byproduct of working with Alessandro Cortini & Vicarious Bliss?
I think Velocifero feels heavier because with Witching Hour we realised more how we wanted to sound, and we just developed on that and took it to another level for album number 4. Also, having toured Witching Hour for 2 years the live show influenced us alot. We were always striving to make songs hit the audience harder. When we finally finished touring Witching Hour we had 1 day off before going into the studio to record Velocifero. All the songs were pretty much together by the time Alessandro and Vicarious Bliss came on board, it was more a case of some additional production.
I've always found myself quite taken with the photographs of the band that coincide with the release of an album. How important is style & image for you?
Obviously when you release an album it is quite important to coincide it with a fresh set of press shots, which make it all the more exciting. Every band wants to look their best at this stage, and we are no different. We like to keep our stage gear separate to what we wear everyday, it makes the clothes more special and unique to the gig experience.
How do you decide who will take vocal duties on a track? Or do the tracks themselves tend to dictate the singer?
Generally we know who will take lead on a certain track, and in which language it will be sung. Bulgarian is a very rhythmical language and works well on certain tracks. The diction also has alot to do with it. Also, our vocal styles are very different and i think they compliment each other when they come together.
Speaking of vocals, I couldn't help but notice the male singer on 'Versus'. Is that Daniel or Reuben? Or someone else entirely?
Danny sings on Versus. At the moment it's one of my favourite tracks to listen to on the album. I'm looking forward to singing it live, as I think it'll be fun dueting with Danny.
So far 'Tomorrow' & 'Runaway' seem to be my absolute favorites this time out (though it changes every time I listen). Are there any specific tracks that you're especially proud/fond of on this one?
Apart from Versus I'm also really enjoying 'Runaway' and 'Ghosts' at the moment. But really, I am very happy with all the songs on the album.
To this day, I can walk into a club and hear 'Playgirl' or 'Seventeen' or 'Destroy Everything You Touch' and EVERYONE will immediately run to the floor to dance. Given the sometimes fickle nature of music lovers, does the incredible 'shelf life' of your albums ever surprise you?
It's totally flattering when you hear stories like this. In some ways it surprises me, but then I also realize the dancability of these tracks. Having toured alot since we released Light and Magic you also find out which tracks get people moving and Destroy Everything you Touch is one example of a crowd pleaser. What really amazes me though, is when you go to a country where the albums haven't even been released and the crowd knows every word to every song. I can hear them louder than I can hear my own voice. We have a very loyal fanbase, and I think the fact we've never really been hyped or gone mainstream pleases people. It's like we still belong to them.
And of course, because I live in Arizona I have to ask – when can we expect to see you again? We know it's hot but we're very fond of you!
I think we've actually only played Arizona once, but it was a great gig. I remember the beautiful red sky at night and partying with CSS as it was our last night touring together. Unfortunately I don't think we'll be hitting Arizona on this leg of the tour, but we will be back to the US very soon for the second installment... so watch this space.