Years spent in the bosom of a band means a foray into solo material can often go either way. We caught up with Ladytron's Helen Marnie to talk about her first solo record, Crystal World…
The Double Negative: What inspired the album?
Marnie: I was inspired to write the album because I felt like the timing was spot on and it was a chance to just go for it. I have to be in the right frame of mind to sit down and write, I need to have direction. It's generally just a feeling that comes over me and I know it's time.
When I started working on my solo songs I really felt like I had a lot I needed to get off my chest. I was very productive over a short period. Over those few months a lot happened to inspire me and there was also change on the horizon. That really was the inspiration – looking forward into the unknown.
It was Pledge-funded. First of all, what was that like and do you think you'd prefer to go down a more traditional route in future?
Pledge definitely has its pros and cons. It's a great platform to get music out there, especially without any label assistance. The fun part is probably the interaction with the pledgers. It's like you've got a big family or support network behind you. However, the pledge model is not without fault. I think there needs to be some fine tuning.
The % cut is big, targets are set at the beginning which can be problematic as budgets often change along the way for various reasons. Pledge felt a little like a ticking clock, which I did find a bit stressful at times. In future, if I am lucky enough to make another solo album, I would prefer not to use such a platform though I am not ruling it out of course.
The industry is changing so fast right now. What pledge has taught me is that it doesn't hurt to interact with people. That's something I would do more of, even if I wasn't to release a future album via crowdfunding.
Were you concerned with going solo having been involved with Ladytron for so long?
I was aware of the comparisons that would be made, and that I wouldn't be able to please everyone, but in the end I just thought 'fuck it'. I've won in my eyes by just releasing a record. It's a pretty great feeling.
Was the process of working alone very different, and do you have a taste for it now?
Yes, I think I do have a taste for it. I can be a bit of a control freak in certain situations, and so writing for myself felt great. Being in a band and writing as a band is fun, but just making my own decisions on the record has been amazing. The process wasn't so different to writing for Ladytron. I began solitary and then the production [by Ladytron's Daniel Hunt] really helped take it to the next stage.
What's the audience for Crystal World?
You tell me. My aim was for a more pop record than Ladytron perhaps would've created. I think I've accomplished that. Saying that though, I still think Ladytron fans will get it. I also hoped to branch out a bit. Pull in a different crowd. Time will tell.
You've been attracting some favourable reviews – was it a relief or more like vindication?
I am happy with my record, I guess that is all that matters. It's nice to get a good review, it really is. But, there will always be people that want to knock you down. They will never be satisfied. They can't appreciate what you're trying to do, or the journey that you've been on. So, I just have to get on with it and keep believing.