Ladytron the Seducer
It's easy to slip into a trance while playing UK-based electro outfit Ladytron on full blast. Ethereal, ice-cold melodies float over a sleek, metallic bass line, with vocalist Mira Aroyo sprinkling in her native Bulgarian just to keep it interesting. Ladytron's fifth studio album, Gravity the Seducer [Nettwerk], which the band is currently on tour promoting in North America, shows the band at their most laid-back, while still adding new brushstrokes to the Ladytron sonic palette.
Over the past ten years, Ladytron (Helen Marnie, lead vocals and synthesizers; Mira Aroyo, vocals and synthesizers; Daniel Hunt, synthesizers, electric guitar, vocals; and Reuben Wu, synthesizers) has been busy: touring, writing songs for Christina Aguilera, DJing, remixing, and producing music for video game and film soundtracks. And it's no wonder these indie darlings are in such high demand: Ladytron pushes sonic boundaries and is known for a largely unclassifiable sound that has been called everything from New Wave to electro-dance-pop.
Already halfway through their North American tour, Ladytron plays Terminal 5 in New York this Saturday, October 8th, followed by an after-hours DJ set at YOTEL. We caught Ladytron synth czar Daniel Hunt while the band was in the middle of a two-day drive from Montana. We touched on roller coasters, whether being in a band for 10 years gets old, and why truck stops are so scary.
MADISON MOORE: You recently played a concert at Six Flags in Mexico. How was that?
DANIEL HUNT: It was definitely not fun. There was a tropical rainstorm. It should have been fun. 6,000 people showed up to see us and they were all standing in the rain.
MOORE: Do you even like roller coasters?
HUNT: No, I don't really like roller coasters, either. [laughs] I mean, we liked the idea of playing at Six Flags, but nobody told us it was going to rain.
MOORE: You're on tour promoting the new record, Gravity the Seducer. It sounds a lot different from the last album, Velocifero. Is the band moving in a new musical direction?
HUNT: We've had people say it's completely different, and we've had people say, "Oh, you know, it's a twist on what they've done in the past or a refinement of that." I wouldn't say it's a new direction. I'd say it was an album that expands on a thread that's run through our records. We think there's enough dance music in the world and we don't really think we need to be making it. We can always get remixes done whenever we want. I just think in terms of what we've got up our sleeves, this kind of record is far more rough than anything else. There's definitely a bit of a jump between the last record and this, but if you look over all the albums and shuffle a little bit, you'll see there's a thread leading through.
MOORE: Speaking of all the other albums, Ladytron recently released an album of greatest hits, Best of 00-10. What was the experience of summarizing 10 years of Ladytron into a couple discs?
HUNT: It was a little bit eerie. I mean it was fun, but it was like, how long have we been going? We also had to compile a photo book, and when we started, we just looked like children. It was a good experience, and it was also interesting to put tracks together in a new way—especially considering a lot of our audience have only been aware of us for a few years. It gives us a chance to say, okay, this is what we've been doing for the last 10 years.
MOORE: One interesting thing about Ladytron is the almost orchestral use of layering.
HUNT: Yeah, that's important to us. One thing that we're conscious of is that a lot of music now is created and mixed for laptop speakers. And that's fine, but after a while your ears don't lie to you, and some records only have a shelf life of a few weeks. Sounding good on laptop speakers is fine, but we're very old-school in that regard, very traditional. We like albums, we like records that are mixed to last forever. Gravity the Seducer, more than any of the records we've done before, is one for headphones.
MOORE: That old-school vibe really comes through, even with the analog instruments you use on stage.
HUNT: Well, that's from when we started. That was the gear we had, and that's what we made the band out of. When we first came out, nobody was using instruments like that, so it gave us a little bit of an advantage by having a limited sonic palette. By having more limited tools, you often end up developing better ideas because when you're flooded with the tools, the ideas get swamped. It was a bit of a novelty, a gimmick-not an intentional gimmick, but it worked as one.
MOORE: You guys have been together for a while. Does it ever get old?
HUNT: [laughs] I don't know. We felt burned out after the last tour finished, because we were more or less on the road constantly for four years. We put an album out, toured for two years, put another album out, toured for two more years. We didn't have a lot of time off at all. We can't tour and we don't want to tour as much as people might want us to, for our own sanity, for our own happiness. So we're being more considered this time. Like for example, this U.S. tour we're only doing three and a half weeks. For the band to continue, it's better that you play less and don't burn yourselves out, because we've put a hell of a lot in this. From 2005 to 2009, it was incessant.
MOORE: What were you doing before Ladytron?
HUNT: We were all doing bits and pieces. The girls were still in school—Mira was doing a Ph.D. in genetics, Reuben was working in industrial design, Helen had just come out of university, I was organizing a lot of parties and stuff. I had my own studio before I came to the band, so I came to this as a producer and I've done bits and pieces with other bands before.
MOORE: All right, tell us something about Montana. You're driving through there now, right? What are you seeing?
HUNT: Well the drive here is amazing, especially driving through Washington state. The scenery is incredible. But we go from the sublime to this horrible cluster of hotels and gas stations.
MOORE: Do you have any horror stories?
HUNT: We've had horror stories before from truck stops and whatever.
MOORE: Truck stops are hilarious.
HUNT: Well, this is the second time we've stopped in Montana. We've only stopped here once before, and boy, did it scare us. We had a scary time in St. Regis, Montana once where I was more or less confident that we were going to be killed. It was a little bit like Race with the Devil . I expected to wake up in the morning and see a ring of fire around the bus. We haven't been back since.