Ladytron: sensual synth
In the music industry, a fourth full-length album validates the staying power of any music group; thus have Liverpool, England-based electro pop band Ladytron, proved able to leave fans demanding more. As the band — Mira Aroyo, Helen Marnie, Reuben Wu and Daniel Hunt — prepares to release Velocifero this summer, they reflect on the gradual changes that have taken place since it all began in 1999.
"We started out a really long time ago; it kind of felt like we were kids when we started," laughs Mira, who was born in Bulgaria and holds a biology Ph.D from Oxford University. "We didn't have a clue it was going to go the way that it's gone. We didn't really have any big plans or ideas. It started off as a fun project and it basically turned into our lives. Musically it's just grown immensely."
After the foursome found their calling they were off and running with 2001's debut release, 604. It was with this synth-pop record that imitators began springing up, nevertheless leaving Ladytron to shine in a light all their own. Through vintage analogue equipment and hours of experimentation, Ladytron achieves their distinct sound.
"We just try and be ourselves," Reuben explains. "For us it's natural and instinctive to produce music the way we do. I expect that if I was in a different band I would find it very difficult to come up with the Ladytron sound. It's a magical combination of many things."
After 604 came 2002's Light and Magic, followed by 2005's much-praised Witching Hour, with hit singles "Destroy Everything You Touch" and "Sugar." Between albums, Ladytron developed their live show, doing DJ sets and performances in what seemed to be a constant state of travel—touring Argentina, Brazil, North America (on Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers tour), and Europe (opening for Nine Inch Nails).
"The way that we are live really helps us grow musically," Mira said. "This whole touring experience is really getting to know each other more personally but also, more importantly, musically."
"When we started working on Light and Magic I suppose we'd become a proper band at that point," Reuben added. "Some people perceived the sound of our music as being a bit darker with slicker production techniques, and we went a stage further with Witching Hour. By that time we'd done a hell of a lot touring, and I think it was that critical point when we realized we were a different band from what we were when we started out."
Witching Hour has been described as Ladytron's best album – but with Velocifero following, it's apparent they intend only to get better. After being recorded in Paris, the new release includes collaborations with Vicarious Bliss and Alessandro Cortini of Nine Inch Nails. The innovation and emotion in this particular album radiates through songs like "Ghosts," "Black Cat" and "I'm Not Scared." Velocifero also marks the first release with the band's new label, Nettwerk.
"The new songs are really quite different from each other. It was hard for us to pick singles," Mira said. "It's a leap forward from Witching Hour. We were more interested in making different sounds, in getting different sounds from keyboards rather than just tweaking tracks after with effects. Rhythmically I think it's much more diverse and much more interesting."
Now that the fourth album is complete, Mira and Reuben both say Ladytron is getting ready for the extensive tour they have scheduled throughout the summer that, so far, include Europe, Canada and the U.S. Mira said they're also beginning to talk already of another album following in quick succession with songs held back from Velocifero that will be "a bit weirder and more downtempo."
And how does Ladytron see itself when it comes to fitting into the current state of pop music?
"We kind of occupy a space on our own," Reuben explains. "I don't think there are any bands out there who are similar to us. I think we stand alone; we've been on the scene for a really long time now. I think we're in a really good position because we're seen as a band who would go out and do their own thing."
"From when we started it's a lot more diverse, people are using a lot more mixtures of sounds," Mira said. "I think that with Witching Hour we basically gained a lot of confidence because electronically it was just a lot thicker than previous albums. It seems like we're kind of on a train now, forging through."