20 July 2013

Disturb.org interview (2001)

New Liverpool Fab Four, with 2 DJs and 2 singers, Ladytron was spotted by the NME, always looking for new sensations and trends, which awarded the title of "single of the week" to all the band's releases. These strange, black-clad characters, Kraftwerk-style, great eighties fans, release their debut album, 604. We met one of these men in black, Daniel Hunt, who is certainly less austere than we might think.

Where does the name Ladytron comes from?

There's a song called like that, written by Brian Ferry on the first Roxy Music album and also the Disney film "Tron". It's a nice idea. That's just a name that suits us.

And this title: six-o-four?

You know this film called The Andromeda Strain? It was actually a reference to that film. We wanted a number, something that was really pure and open to interpretation. Since then, people have come up with hysterical interpretations of it. It's just a nice thing that looks good on the cover of the album.

Your singles have all been singles of the week for the NME: how do you live it and what do you wait from success?

We're still in a learning process, cause everything has happened so accidentally. It seems more coherent over here, because we've signed to labels and everything's organized, but in England, it's been a really slow build, with a little bit of press here and there. The NME have never given us a feature, just a few singles of the week. It all feels quite strange and accidental, so all we really wanted from success was some kind of recognition. In 10 or 15 years, if some kid goes to a second-hand record shop and buys our album, that'll be in a way more appealing than anyone buying it now, because of the idea we might do something that might last.

The newspapers have described you as "the eighties dreaming of year 2000": is it a good definition of Ladytron?

I think it's a valid definition. When I was about 17, I started acquiring synthesizers and I really wanted to find avenues that music never took, but nowadays, we just think our music is our version of "now". It's not a revivalism of anything or an anticipation of the future, it's just our version of the present.

What were your influences? Kraftwerk? Depeche Mode? Chemical Brothers? Gary Numan? Magazine? Devo? Brian Eno / Bowie? NIN?

I started doing music when I was about ten years old, I was into Duran Duran, things like that. My older brother didn't like that and got me into Mantronix and electro records. I had a Casio keyboard and I tried to make music and record it to cassette. The first thing I did was a sort of copy of Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" featuring Michael Jackson.

The bands from the past that people compare us to aren't as influential to us as it might seem. People pick upon Kraftwerk, Human League, etc., but they're not as influential as it might seem they are. They are more reference points than influences. I think the songwriting is something more classic, it's a pop sensibility, whereas Kraftwerk never did songs like that. I feel more affinity with The Chemical Brothers as I do with some of the other bands we get compared to. We're all into dance music.

I have heard you like Black Sabbath too?

I'm a fan, there's a song we did that ended up sounding like Black Sabbath although it wasn't intended to. It appears on Mu-Tron, an EP that wasn't released in France. It's called "USA vs. White Noise".

You only use keyboards and voices, but no guitars at all: why?

We wanted to construct it from the ground up with keyboards, cause mainly I think in England people rely too much on building songs with guitars. When a band says it will go into an electronic direction, it just means they add some analog synthesizers in the background and it's still the same guitar sound. Moreover, these were the only instruments we had, we just had one guitar with 4 strings on it. We hadn't changed the strings in 6 or 7 years. We had the synthesizers lying all around, we just used what we got.

Is your look on stage very important to your music?

When we're together, we dress the same. It's important in a way, because we want to be a unit. It's not a purely stylistic thing, it feels like the right thing to do. It also distances us from a kind of revival in fashion from the 80s and things like that, because, as a band, we are not interested in the visual element of the 80s at all. We like the technology from that time, but not the graphic design or the fashion. If you listen to a record like "Fade to Grey" now, the production is amazing, it sounds modern, but then you've got Steve Strange, with his harlequin costume... We're not into that side of it. It think in England, the credibility of that music suffers because of the image in a way. People don't take this music seriously because they associate it with people dressed as pirates. (laughs) Our clothes are supposed to be utilitarian, not stylish.

Would you consider writing music for a fashion show?

We've already been used in fashion shows, to be honest. It's nothing to do with us, maybe the music has got some kind of compatibility with that. It's quite a strange thing. We don't mind it, but I think the fashion industry is quite farcical.

Ladytron are two DJs and two girl singers: how did you first meet?

Reuben and I grew up near Liverpool and we had very different upbringings: he went to a public school and I went to state school, but we were both DJs and we knew each other from hanging around in the same record shops. He went away to study in Sheffield for a few years and when he came back, he'd written music and I'd got the recording equipment. We decided to do something, we didn't really know what it would be. It didn't become a band till we met Helen and Mira. Helen was studying in Liverpool (she's from Glasgow) and Mira was introduced to us through friends.

Recently, you've been touring Europe but not in England: why?

We went on tour with Soulwax in England in February, that's our first tour in England. The reason why we didn't bother was we didn't really see the point. It hasn't done us any harm not playing, we did a couple of shows in Liverpool, then left it and played in Europe. We didn't go to London, even though people were asking us to partly because we couldn't be bothered, partly because we wanted to wait for the album and play in front of people who already liked us, have an audience. It was also good to concentrate on making the record because that's something really special, whereas a live show is so ephemeral. You won't remember it in 20 years, although you'll remember a record. Another reason is that, since I'm from Liverpool, I have this twisted kid of resentment of London and I didn't want to have to pander to the media or the industry in London. It was just a "fuck you" thing, you know. I don't like the way people think you HAVE to do it.

You don't play much live: is it more fun to be DJ'ing? And to make records?

Yes, it's fun DJ'ing, but we're gonna do an American and a European tour. The album's been out two months longer in America. It was good that we didn't waste energy, we put all our efforts into the album.

Will you shoot videos?

We've done a video for "Playgirl", it's cheaply-made, but very nice. It's mainly a shot of Helen singing the whole song. Live, we're gonna use video stuff, it's being made at the moment. Nothing too pretentious, just graphic stuff.

You've been touring with Soulwax, who made this song: "Too Many DJs": how were you received by the audience and how did you live it yourselves?

It was strange, because we hadn't toured before and these were very big venues. Since Soulwax are very rocky, we thought it could go very badly, but it actually went really well. We do some remixes in the sets, but it's mainly a live thing. I think Soulwax are bigger DJs than we are. (laughs) It was cool, lots of kids who had never heard of us approached us after the show.

You're DJs, but remixers too, for Soulwax for example: do you intend to do more remixes? And produce bands?

Definitely. I want to do some production too. I don't want to protect any kind of indie credibility. I'll do whatever I want. The biggest act of subversion you can do is getting into pop music itself.

How do you see your future and what are your wishes for it?

I can't see even two years in the future now, because the future has already happened, so it's really hard to imagine what it's gonna be like. I just see myself behind a record shop counter 10 years from now. (laughs) Hopefully, I'll be living somewhere hot.