Last year Ladytron's landmark release 604 turned the independent music world on its ear. Keeping company with electropop predecessors such as Stereolab, Add N to X, Saint Etienne and Chicks on Speed, Ladytron's rise to underground acclaim was the musical masterstroke to defining a future-retro genre centered around breathy female vocals, vintage analog synthesizers and simple pop song structures.
This Liverpool, England four-some have got a new release entitled Light & Magic on Emperor Norton Records that plays like an encore performance of 604 and is packed with infectious pop singles poised for college radio superstardom. I got the chance to interview Daniel Hunt, one of the main masterminds behind Ladytron' sound and their main songwriter.
Did Ladytron start out as one person's concept or did it grow out of improvisation among all of you?
The shape of the band grew from the way all four of us are, and what we each brought to it. It wasn't planned as such.
What do you think makes your melancholy, computer-girl style so appealing?
It's instinctive at our end... that's important. It isn't some kind of high-concept. It just feels right. The songs are sad to some, to others they're optimistic. All that's true is that there is some energy in the songs themselves, not just the production.
What are the most important tools for you in your studio?
The hard drive. The synths. We're quite fetishistic about the keyboards, but we look beyond them... there are live drums, guitars and bass on the new record.
What's so great about living in Liverpool?
Low cost of living. Small scene. Lots of choices. Nice girls.
What inspires you to write new songs?
Moments of inactivity.
How does Ladytron manage to perform live? Are you all behind synthesizers like Kraftwerk?
We're all behind synthesizers but not like anyone in particular... it's just the only way to reproduce the music live... it's fair to say that most people are just playing P.A.s to a DAT nowadays... which is sometimes enough when it's all about the show, but we're anti-spectacle really. I enjoy the music being created. Watching someone create the music is more appealing to me than any stage theatrics... If you'll excuse the post punk analogy, we're probably more like Joy Division, as opposed to say... The Tubes.
What's the best record for robots to copulate to? Metal Machine Music?
I'm not sure, probably Telstar by The Tornados.
What's the worst thing about the current state of pop music?
I don't pay much attention, but I've always enjoyed the occasional guilty pop pleasure... there is good stuff there. Some of it is dismissed for being popular and accessible. If we had all had that attitude 30 years ago we would be staring into the void right now.
Who's the biggest synth gearhead in the band?
It's probably me, though Reuben and Mira have unhealthy obsessions, their MS-20s etc. Helen is a lot more realistic.
How did your sound develop? Were any of you guys in rock bands before or have you always played electronic-based music?
I was in a couple guitar based bands... my first group sounded like My Bloody Valentine or something, I still love that stuff.
You guys seem like you're ripe to be remixed by other producers, are there any projects in the works?
There's always lots of mixes going on. We're also remixing ourselves for a possible remodels album. That's actually going to be interesting.
If synthesizers were people, what synthesizer would you most like to have a night of cheap sex with?
How would characterize the typical Ladytron fan?
I don't think there is one. Our concerts are normally a mixture of old synth heads and teenage girls so perhaps somewhere between the two?
What do you want Ladytron to be remembered for?
Is love best when it's bitterseet?
It makes better copy when it is either on the rocks, or unrequited. I wouldn't say that makes it best, but nobody wants to hear about how great somebodys relationship is... they just want to watch the car crash.