26 June 2012

The Stool Pigeon interview (2008)

Helen may still digging her heels in the sand, but the rest of Ladytron are now available in shades other than black.

"We should get our bikes out!" declares Reuben Wu, Ladytron's energetic keyboardist. Mere moments later, he and Bulgarian born singer Mira Aroyo are riding around the East Berlin music venue that will tonight host the latest show in their stamina-defying tour. Zooming frantically and pointlessly in circles, they charmingly resemble over energetic ET cast extras. They appear a fraction of their ages, reeking of nothing more rock'n'roll than good old fashioned healthy living. If they are on something, it's surely berocca.

Ladytron are in the German capital to promote their latest long player, Velocifero, and judging by the look of their swanky jumbo-sized tour bus, they are reaping the rewards of surviving nine years in music. Let us not forget, when Ladytron burst onto the scene via John Peel with their alluring lo-fi art house electro in 1999, they never seemed like a true mainstream concern. Rather, they politely offered the world carefully sculptured hair, jet black uniforms, pale faces and icy demeanours. In the world of pop, that's a foolproof way to project a sense of cool mystery to gullible people. Or get you confused with Suede.

"When we started, we just did it for fun", explains Mira, now perched on a backstage leather couch. "We all had day jobs and no grand plan. We weren't expecting to make a living from the band".

Ladytron's new record smoothly continues their unique portfolio of synth pop with tracks such as 'They Gave You a Heart, They Gave You a Name' and latest single 'Ghosts'. It also encompasses a number of eye opening interludes, such as when Mira begins to vocalise in her native Bulgarian tongue on the opening number 'Black Cat' and the intriguing 'Kletva'.

"We spent about two months in Paris recording and mixing", says Reuben. "We then went to LA to finish it with producer Michael Patterson, who has worked with Beck and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I think our last record, Witching Hour, was a milestone in terms of us finding a sound that we're happy with. Through a lot of touring, our live sound became very powerful – it had so much energy – and we wanted to translate that into our records, though we're still using the same instrumentation we've always used. We're never going into rock'n'roll or anything like that".

Ladytron have undoubtedly found their niche and are clearly ecstatic about their achievements on Velocifero. "I'd give it four billion trillion billion and 42 out of 10", Mira claims. "It's a harder and louder album than Witching Hour and it's also more diverse and experimental in terms of rhythms. People have in their heads what a typical Ladytron song sounds like, so we just pushed things a bit more. I think we've become more psychedelic in every way".

With Mira's severe crop now replaced with feminine curls, it would seem that Ladytron's once regimented vampiric look has loosened up as well. "Our hair is quite low maintenance", she adamantly insists.

"I think everyone likes to look nice", believes Reuben. "We've always tried to approach how we appear in a different way to normal bands. At the start we all wore black matching uniforms, so we didn't need to worry about what to wear onstage. At the time it really fitted. Now we're more individual".

Ladytron's strong interest in the visual side of things extends beyond the realms of sartorial elegance.

"We like to have control over our artwork, video and record sleeves", continues Reuben. "From the very beginning we used to do our own sleeves and album covers. These days we get other people to do it, but we're still very involved in the process".

"Lyrically, I think we also write in terms of images rather than themes", adds Mira.

Scottish-born Ladytron vocalist Helen Marnie isn't smiling today. Or speaking. She utters not one word until the moment we see a fox galloping past in a nearby field and the boisterous Reuben bizarrely begins to chase after it like it's stolen his Lucozade. Then Helen sharply drops a bombshell on her band mates: "I'm not getting my bike out".

Helen knows I'm miserable now indeed and, thankfully, she's only one forth of Ladytron. It's hard to work out whether she's ill, as her band members apologetically tell us, or just shrewdly carrying on the band's historical unsmiling-we-are-the-robots tradition that the others have abandoned for happiness and colour.

To back up this unexpected development, it is decided that one of Berlin's highly authentic-looking LA style 'beach bars' is the perfect place to photograph them for today's shoot. The band's latest video, directed by Joseph Khan, who has also shot promos for baldy bores Moby, U2 and Britney Spears, similarly goes against their dark electro stereotype and is set in a soft focus desert. "The same director did 'Thong Song'", explains Reuben enthusiastically. "It is probably the most sexy video we've ever done. It was filmed in the same place as Kill Bill 2".

Let's hope Ladytron didn't pay Mr Khan megabucks in advance, as the finalised version turned out to be more conventional than Delta Goodrem. Any shots of Ladytron writhing around in bikinis have been edited out, and what remains is about as kinky as a Pringles advert. On the upside, it features a really cute rabbit, but you don't have to crawl all the way to the desert to find one of those.

Who then, dead or alive would the band handpick to direct the full-length movie of Ladytron's life? "Werner Herzog or John Walters would be pretty good", says Mira, smiling.

And how and when will the Ladytron chronicles end? "I think we've outlasted most bands nowadays", she says defiantly. "We just take one day at a time".

"I try to be nice everyday", concludes Reuben sombrely. "I don't want to get reincarnated as a cockroach".

Source: http://www.thestoolpigeon.co.uk/features/ladytron-interview.html