Date: 23rd July 2006
Event: Viva Beach Festival
Text/questions: Elena Ionovska
It's been more than 3 years since the legendary now Ladytron gig in Sofia. Last night's show was part of Viva Beach Festival at the Black Sea. Ladytron played a long set featuring almost every track from their last album Witching Hour ("CMYK", "Whitelightgenerator" and "All the Way..." were the only ones that weren't performed). They also did an impromptu mash-up at the end - Mira rapping "Commodore Rock" (a track from Ladytron's first album 604 which lyrics are based on the Bulgarian national anthem) while Helen singing "Seventeen". On the next day I meet Helen & Reuben to talk about... music, the new album, life, touring, festivals, cats, dogs, whales... All in 15 minutes! A sincere un-edited version of the interview with the cute half Tron.
Elena: So what is your most vivid memory from your gig in Sofia in May 2003?
Reuben: It was definitely the gig and this huge beautiful building, inside like a ballroom, it just looked really really nice and the gig was very good as well.
Elena: And if you have to compare it with this one?
Reuben: Oh, completely different! It's more like a festival vibe. We've never played on the beach before...
Helen: We played on beaches but not in Bulgaria...
Reuben: Really? When was last time?...
Helen: About last week!
Reuben: Oh yeah! Almeria! (a Spanish festival at the Mediterranean coast) But that wasn't exactly the beach! It's the first time that we actually see the waves next to us.
Helen: We've done also Creamfields at the beach...
Elena: You've probably played at a lot of similar festivals in the summer in Spain or Portugal for example. Since this is the first time such an event is carried out in Bulgaria, could you compare it to the ones in Western Europe?
Reuben: They have so much in common... It's by the beach, it's great weather... (both laugh)
Helen: Well, it's a big party. Everyone wants to dance.
Elena: Danny and Mira wrote the lyrics for 604 and Light & Magic and in the last one, Helen, you write texts too. How did that come?
Helen: We all write now.
Reuben: It's very collaborative. Danny has always been the main songwriter. In Witching Hour it has been a lot more shared between all of us. It's going to be like that from now on. Which is really good, the third album in, we're still evolving... and it's the best so far.
Helen: The Witching Hour is the most varied of the three and the next one will probably be even more between the four of us, so these are four separate channels of influences that have impact on the music.
Elena: So who wrote "Beauty*2" lyrics?
Helen: I did.
Elena: In "Fighting in Build Up Areas", the Bulgarian track on the album, there are two layers of vocals and they seem different people. Is there another person who sings the back vocals in Bulgarian or it's Mira after all?
Helen: She does all, we don't have a substitute or a guest vocalist. (laughs)
Reuben: The vocal track of this tune has so many layers. It's quite difficult to listen to all of it and identify all as one. But it's definitely all Mira. All the vocals are within the band.
Elena: What about having a new album? Are you planning getting into studio soon? Not long after Witching Hour was released Danny said in an interview, you already have some material...
Helen: We do. With Witching Hour we had so many songs as well. We already had proper songs from some years ago and now we've also got around 15 tracks that are demo tapes and then next year we'll go into studio and work on them.
Reuben: It's always good to start with a whole load of tracks and then decide which of them are going to be on the album, which we'll use for B-sides and which are the ones that we need to work further and put on the next album.
Elena: So, roughly, shall we expect a new album in 2007?
Reuben: Hopefully. We do have a lot of tunes, a lot of demos, it's a question of finding time...
Helen: You can never make promises though!
Elena: What will be the new album sound direction? Witching Hour is considered darker than Light & Magic which is considered darker than 604... Will you continue with that?
Helen: It will be black!
Reuben: We might do a comedy album! Where everything is in major key, we never really do anything in the major key. Maybe we should do a major key album.
Elena: Will you continue to use mainly synths on?
Reuben: Oh, yeah! We're still a synthesizer band. Most of them are breaking down now. We need to find a replacement... We have some new MS2000 but they are only for lives. We have some other old analog synths that we prefer to use in the studio.
Elena: What do you enjoy doing when you're not occupied with music?
Helen (thoughtful): I enjoy...
Helen: I don't shop much! (bashfully). I enjoy... going out with friends, taking my dog for a walk...
Elena: You have a dog? What kind?
Helen: (shows something the size of a larger ladies bag and says quietly) ...mongrel.
Reuben: A shitty little mongrel!
Elena: You prefer cats?
Reuben: Yeah, I do...
Helen: Cats are... No, you don't! Cats don't love anyone, they love everyone. Cats don't love you!
Reuben: They do, they love me. They just don't love you! You're a dog person, they know that, they feel that you're a dog person...
Helen: That's a speculation! I've got cats too!...
Reuben: I like animals, I love animals but I prefer cats!
Helen: Yeah... you love to eat them. (referring to "the animals", erm...)
Reuben: So do you!
Helen: But not sharks or... dolphins or...
Reuben: I did not eat dolphin or shark!
Helen: ...whales. (bursts into laughter)
Reuben: I didn't!
Helen: You wanted to!
Reuben: I was interested in the availability of it in Iceland...
Elena: Oh, Iceland! You did a gig there a month ago or so, how was that?
Helen: Yeah, it was amazing. We saw the Blue Lagoon, we had quite a bit time off, taken a look on culture... drinking culture... (laughter again)
Elena: Since last fall you have a new bass player - Andrea. How did you choose her?
Reuben: She's really good not only because she's a good bass player but it equals the gender balance within the band – it's 3 boys and 3 girls that play live... It's nice when we go out and tour. Because when you have too many boys, things get a little bit unhygienic after a while... It's good to have ladies.
Helen: She's great. When Jon (Pop Levi) left we were all sad about that because he was really good fun. But he wanted to do his own music. Andrea's definitely the right replacement.
Elena: The hardest moment for the band so far?
Helen: The hardest for me was probably before Witching Hour came out. It took us 2 years to get the album out, quite a bit of period of time off where we went through arranging things for that.
Reuben: Yeah. For me, it was that on creative level we had a whole new album ready to come out and it didn't come out for ages. I've felt in a bit of creative slump, we've just done something and waited to come out and we couldn't do anything until it comes out.
Elena: Does being in a band, means you have to make a lot of compromises or it's pretty easy-going?
Reuben: No, it's like having a cake! Definitely, compared to a normal job...
Helen: You always have to compromise doing any aspects of life...
Reuben: Everything is a compromise... When you're playing in a band, it's nice as well. I would enjoy the lifestyle. Getting to travel, seeing places, ok, you're not there like a whole week, you can't really check out the places, you leave on the next day after the gig, but still you do see a lot. For me that's one of the main things.
Elena: And do you enjoy touring?
Reuben: I like it!
Helen: I like most of it...
Elena: I guess it could get tiring at some point?
Helen: It's very tiring! No one's going to say it's easy because it's not easy. But it has benefits – we have a lot of fun, you go on stage every night, perform and do what you enjoy.
Reuben: Over the summer it's good for us because we mainly go out for the weekends and then come back home for 5 days and then go away again. Well, sometimes having an early flight is a bit of a pain but...
Elena: Will there be a European tour after the American tour?
Helen: Probably. We do America September till the end of October, then we have 10 days off, then we do South America in November till December. We're going to take some time off till mid January. And do a European tour in February or after that.
Elena: Are you willing to come back in Sofia?
Helen: Yes, Sofia was real good fun last time!