03 April 2011

we7 interview (2011)

Formed back in 1999 in Liverpool, Ladytron are an electropop band comprised of Helen Marnie, Mira Aroyo, Reuben Wu and Daniel Hunt. Since starting out the band have released four albums and numerous EPs, building up a cult following of fans and have toured extensively around the world.

Having just put out their latest EP, Ace of Hz, Ladytron are set to release their fifth album later this year as well as their greatest hits album Best of 00-10, and are also set to tour after the release of album number five.

We caught up with Ladytron's vocalist and synth player Mira to find out more about what we can expect from their new releases.

You started out in 1999, how did you all get together?

Well Danny and Reuben knew each other from Liverpool, from the music scene there. Helen went to university in Liverpool, and I met Danny through a German friend of mine. We kind of all got together and didn't really know whether anything would work out or where it was going to go so we just started working on a few songs and started releasing singles little by little. Nearly every single that we released ended up being single of the week in NME at the time, so the first time it happened we thought oh great let's release another one it's probably a one off, and then it happened again and again, so we decided to put an album together.

We recorded the first album – bits of it were done in Liverpool and bits of it were done in Wales, and put it out as a mini LP on a Japanese label, so it was released only in Japan and over here on import. It ended up getting picked up by a record label called Emperor Norton in the US through this guy called Steve Pross, who kind of obsessively collects and I think was really into Japanese pop music at the time, which was something that we were into a little bit as well.

Was Japanese pop one of your main influences as a band?

There were a few compilations that came out of there in the late 90s, and German record label Bungalow released a couple of Japanese pop compilations at the time, and it wasn't so much that they were influential, it's just they were doing something that didn't seem to be done in Europe at the time.

When we got together we came from slightly different influences. I was into krautrock, Helen was more into pop, Danny and Reuben were into French electronic music, and we were all into 60s disco music. So there were a lot similarities as well but we just wanted to make something that wasn't around at the time, and also three of us were DJing and so kind of knew what music we wanted to play and at the time it wasn't being done so we almost ended up making music to just satisfying our needs to begin with.

How do you go about creating a track, do you usually have a typical process that you tend to follow?

We rarely get together as a band and just sit there with nothing to work on and think let's jam. Usually someone has worked on an idea and maybe it's like a riff, a sound or a beat, or maybe it's much more complete and it's an instrumental track and it needs lyrics. So every track is completely different, you might have had a melody in your head for ages and then suddenly you sit down and start building it up. Or other times you are messing about at home and you find a sound that you like.

You've done quite a few remixes over the years – are there any that really stand out as remixes you particularly enjoyed doing?

I enjoyed working on the Nine Inch Nails mix, just because I really respect them production wise so it was really nice to be asked to do something like that. Blondie as well was great to work on as I'm a massive fan – it's just amazing to hear how it was made and to hear it in parts, I would never had imagined that we'd actually do anything like that. It's something I listened to as a kid so I never imagined I would be able to do that.

You've opened for some great bands, what was your best experience?

Nine Inch Nails was a really amazing tour that brought us a few new fans, it was just good to go out with an established band rather than a band that's kind of hyped at the time, and also a band who's work you really respect. And it was nice that they asked us, I think Trent really liked our music so that was good to know.

You've been around for over ten years as a band, how do you feel about the changes in the music industry?

There are a lot of things we don't think about, but I think the main thing we focus on is to primarily satisfy us and stick by our guns and never try to second guess what an audience or a record label is going to do. We've been on so many labels that have folded, and if it wasn't for us sticking through it then we wouldn't have survived.

Obviously we live in a much more globalized world these days, it has its downside as people don't pay for your music a lot of the time, but on the plus side people in Columbia can hear your record when it's not even out and you can go and play in front of 3000 people there.

What is the inspiration for the album, and how does it compare or differ to your previous releases?

I feel that they've all differed and a couple of times there's been a bigger jump from previous releases than other times. With Velocifero I don't think that was a huge departure from Witching Hour, it was more of a progression. Whereas now I feel with this album there's another big jump, and in a way releasing the Best Of almost wipes the slate clean. It's a lot more of an atmospheric record than previous ones, more mature without being boring.