The eclectic, electronic four piece that are Ladytron have returned to the fray with a 'Best Of' album, marking out a decade in the business and as a forerunner to their fifth studio album 'Gravity the Seducer', which is due for release in September.
Known for their lush synthesized sounds, uniform wearing (back in the early days) and for ploughing their own fantastically unclassifiable furrow, they are a band at the peak of their powers, traversing the worlds of video games, movie soundtracks, DJ sets and remixes for other artists.
To promote the album they're currently touring the UK, with upcoming shows in London, Glasgow, Liverpool and Dublin this week (see details below). Daniel Hunt lent us a little of his time between shows to answer the following questions.
You have a new album due out soon, why did now feel like the time to go for a 'greatest hits'? Is it purely to mark the decade milestone or perhaps to put your current work into some sort of chronological context?
Both, it's an opportunity to draw a line in the sand that will not come around again. Additionally, much of our audience weren't even aware of us the last time we put an album out, let alone when we began.
You've produced music for The Sims and for a FIFA game... do you think that dilutes what you do as a band or it just another channel to get your music 'out there'?
No different to a film or TV show. Didn't produce music specifically, nothing unusual or particularly noteworthy.
You started out playing to backing tapes and doing one off shows whereas now you're well respected as a live band... did this happen organically, through the process of playing together or did you think, we need to get this live thing down because its the only way to make money these days?
We began to focus on live only when it was apparent that there was a demand for us to play around the world, and bear in mind we had already passed on a 2001 tour in the US. We didn't assume that we would be touring all over the world. It was also nothing to do with money, tours were still in part supported by labels in those days remember, they were considered marketing.
To be honest the way the balance has shifted, I dislike when artists are making albums purely as a platform to tour, and conversely the attitude that musicians should just accept that touring is the only source of income. That is actually, for all but the biggest artists, an untenable situation which is beginning to be acknowledged, although I must say, usually anonymously.
This is why artists, especially new ones, in general deserve to be cut some slack for seeking ways to monetize their music, the average listener has had quite a good deal from decimation of the old industry after all.
You're known as a four piece but there's now an additional rhythm section that aren't part of the 'band'... are they just used when you're touring or do they contribute to the recording process?
Touring, very occasional session playing if required.
You continue to use analogue equipment when you tour, as it must be hard to duplicate some of your sound digitally... irreplaceable items no doubt give up the ghost in transit, do you mourn them or just get searching for replacements?
We buy every MS-20 we find. Seriously.
You've admitted that you're a album band, would you be happy to dispense with the whole single business or do you enjoy choosing an album 'taster' and making of the subsequent videos?
I wouldn't say we admitted anything, we make albums. That's part of the album process though, it need not be mutually exclusive, we love putting singles out. What we don't want is the charade where an album is made purely as a platform for touring, as I said, which is endemic now. The album, is and should be a viable form in itself.
You've listed very disparate influences in terms of what you listen to... most of if historical. Are there there any current bands that are influencing your sound or that you're excited by?
To be honest I’m not sure I remember listing any influences explicitly, certainly not for a long time. However I do remember explaining which assumed influences were actually inaccurate.
In general, normal listeners, rather than music geeks, have almost universal knowledge of back catalogue nowadays. I find that I rarely tell anybody about a record, it is assumed that everybody is aware.
But for a band that has been active this long to be overtly influenced by something totally current seems perverse, as you're already on your own journey, our records have been substantially different anyway. You can always be influenced by a change of context, or a change in audience however.
The atmospheric aspect of your music feels like it could easily be translated into a cinematic collaboration... would you like to do a soundtrack for a movie and if so which directors would you be interested in working with?
I'm already working on some film projects.
You're playing at the Arches (Glasgow) in June to promote the album, does Helen view that as a homecoming of sorts, especially in light of the greatest hits?
Yes she always loves playing Glasgow.
You DJ, do you get something very different from that than you do when you're performing; do you ever play any of your own records?
DJ'ing is totally different to playing live shows, seems pointless to compare. Sometimes you play your own record, depends on the circumstances, if there's a crowd there for us specifically then sure, but I wouldn't normally if it didn't matter.
Was it a bit strange collaborating with pop princess Christina Aguilera or did you respect the fact she liked your sound and wanted a piece of it?
Both. but I've said before, I respect the major artists who actually seek out the collaborators who they want to work with, far more than those who just send a list of names to A&R for a producer to approximate. She deserves more credit for that than she actually got. I would say that some real nonsense has been written about this though, which I suppose is natural given the nature of her celebrity, but is not our world.
Do you feel as enthused and prolific as when you first began working together or do you believe Ladytron to have a finite existence?
We never planned beyond making the next record, even when we began, though looking back, five albums always seemed appropriate. It depends on what we want to do next. Creatively we're not confined to this group, or to music, individually or collectively. All I would say is that this album has been the one whose creation has felt driven by the strongest desire.