Showing posts with label Marnie interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marnie interviews. Show all posts

22 February 2017

Fame Magazine interview (2017)

Hi Marnie, how are you today?

Good, thanks. Monday's take a bit longer to get into gear though.

Tell us about your latest track "Alphabet Block".

It's the first track from my new album Strange Words and Weird Wars, and it's a co-write with my producer Jonny Scott. I think it pretty well encapsulates a moment of fear and anxiety, with Glasgow as it's backdrop.

The track is taken from your forthcoming album Strange Words and Weird Wars, what can people expect from the record?

I think they can expect a departure. I wanted to, at least on the surface, move away from the overly emotional feel I had with my previous album Crystal World. So SWWW, is much more upbeat and fun. It still has a lot of depth, but it's just a different approach.

What inspired you to pursue music full-time, did you always have a desire to write and perform?

It's all I've ever done, so it's all I know! As a child I did fancy myself as a bit of a performer, be it acting or music. Quickly though, I learnt I had zero acting talent. Music on the other hand, was always something that had come quite easily to me. In my late teens I did write lyrics (that would never be shown to anybody!) but it wasn't till my mid twenties that I started trying to write songs properly. When I hit my 30s I realised I was actually ok at songwriting. It's a confidence issue. I never thought I was any good. But now I know I can be. That's what keeps me going. I get a thrill when I know I've written something great.

When composing music how does the writing process work for you?

It all depends really. Sometimes I'll start with the music bed, sometimes just drums. Other times I'll have a lyrical idea in my head. On Strange Words and Weird Wars there are quite a few co-writes with Jonny Scott where he would start with the music bed and I would then write the melody/topline and then lyrics. It's all done pretty simply in my home studio. Just my laptop, mic, and a MIDI keyboard to start.

You spent a lot of time in Liverpool, how did your time their influence you musically?

My time spent at Liverpool was my University years. Much as I would love to say I was a good student, I wasn't. I was much more interested in going out, meeting people, and having fun. In that respect, Liverpool was great. There were so many clubs and bars back in the late 90's and you could always find music if you wanted it. Liverpool is where I met my band Ladytron, so I guess that played a massive part in forming my musical future.

How does it compare with the music scene back home in Glasgow?

I haven't been back to Liverpool for quite some time now so I'm not really up on the current scene. I played FestEvol last year, but it was such a flying visit that I had no time to hang out. Glasgow, on the other hand, is my home now and has been for the last 4 years so I have a much better grasp of that scene. I love it. It is literally brimming with music and I've met some super talented people since moving here. At the moment the Celtic Connections festival is on, and in one week I saw a gig by HQFU, which is melodic house, followed by Kirsty Law's quirky Scottish trad folk. That pretty much sums up Glasgow.

If you could play in any band or with any artist past or present who would that be and why?

Wow. It's hard to choose. I'd like to sing on a Prince track, just because. I don't think that needs any explanation. I also would've liked to play with Michael Jackson on his Dangerous tour because then I would've got to see him take off on his jet pack.

Describe your sound in 5 words.

Dark Wave Electro Pop Music

Source

02 February 2017

Almost Predictable interview (2017)

Helen Marnie's solo work to date is a wonderful thing with her debut album Crystal World and standalone single "Wolves" both must haves in anyone's collection. Her new solo album Strange Words and Weird Wars, released under her solo guise Marnie, is due out on 25 March and it's been preceded by the gorgeous single "Alphabet Block". The track is as fine an examples of synthpop as you'll hear at the moment, showing the many artists who have been influenced by her solo work and, of course, her work with Ladytron, just how this type of music is done.

Mixing a new poppier direction with shoegaze and dream pop influenced electronics, "Alphabet Block" is a powerful, mesmerising track that demands repeated plays. The verses and the chorus juxtapose perfectly with the former's darker feel giving way to the shimmering space of the chorus magnificently. As you can hear below, "Alphabet Block" is a special track and one you're going to love. It's a great taster for the album too and that record is going to be one of the must hear releases this year. You don't want to miss it - once again, Glasgow proves itself to be the new home of electronic music.

I had a quick chat with Marnie to find out a bit more about "Alphabet Block".

Welcome back Marnie! "Alphabet Block" is quite a way to announce your return. Tell us a bit about the song.

Thank you. It's great to be back! The song is a co-write with producer Jonny Scott. He produced the album Strange Words and Weird Wars and I've been working with him since I wrote "Wolves" in 2014. I thought "Alphabet Block" would be a good album opener, a little sneak peak at what to expect. That being said, the album is quite different to "Alphabet Block". AB is a wordy little number, which I would describe as shoegaze electropop. I love all the swirling guitars and arpeggiators. Lyrically, it's actually really dark. I wrote it at a time of personal uncertainty. However, I think it does come across as warm and that is due to the instrumentation.

The song has a real classic synthpop feel to it. Does the song represent a move towards a poppier sound generally?

I would agree with that, yes. It's funny, when I did my last album Crystal World, a few people advised me not to move in that direction. As in, I'd be wrong to do that. So, this is basically my 'fuck you' to them. Nobody should ever tell me what kind of music I should make. I can make my own decisions and create whatever I want.

Were there any particular influences in mind when you wrote the track? The chorus has a real dream pop feel to it for example.

Because the verses are so lyrically full, it was important for me create some space and depth with the choruses. And I did that be introducing that dreamy vocal feel. Elongating the words. Creating more breath and layering the vocals. The guitars also give a sense of space. I like that the song enters like a club track, but then completely changes and transforms into something different.

Looking forward, your second solo album Strange Words and Weird Wars is out in March. Can we expect a similar, more pop focused approach?

I can't tell you how excited I am to finally have the album coming out. It will be over 2 years in the making. And, as seems is usual with me, not everything went as smoothly as I would've wished. It's definitely a pop effort, there is no denying that. But I think there's also a lot more to it than that. It's intelligent, it's melodic, it's not overly produced, it's guitars, it's synths, it's my voice, and it's a good ride. I'm hoping people will be pleasantly surprised.

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Thanks very much to Marnie for taking the time to have a chat. As I've mentioned earlier, Strange Words and Weird Wars is destined to be an album that a lot of you are going to love this year. "Alphabet Block" is a wonderful way to reintroduce yourself to Marnie.

Source

02 October 2016

Jute Fashion Magazine interview (2016)

A blaze of neon lights bejeweled by a spectrum of saturated hues from sold out world tours in Great Britain, Mexico, Indonesia and Singapore. Electrifying the Electro Pop scene since 1999, Ladytron has also produced remixes for Goldfrapp, Christina Aguilera and Nine Inch Nails. Modeled on the paradigm of British design group, Hypgnosis and inspired by the poignant sounds of Kate Bush and Serge Gainsbourg. Ladytron has reached critical acclaim with five baroque n'roll studio albums. Gravity the Seducer peaked at 72 from UK Albums chart and 112 on the Billboard 200.

Harmonizing on the wings of the horizon stretching to the temples of landmark architecture. A rotating Perlan glass dome and geothermal Blue Lagoon spa originating from Iceland - the dreamscape for Ladytron's vocalist, Helen Marnie's first solo album. A bespoke enchantment with commitment to analog synth legends, Solina String Synthesizer and Korg MS-10 - the transformative portal from Celtic charm of Glasgow based and celebrated songstress, Helen Marnie.

Rocio Frausto: Tell me about your first meeting to develop your second album? What factors determined your artistic decisions as you were preparing songs the for new album in contrast to the dreamy arctic escapist fantasy of Crystal World? What tools and instruments did you experiment with during production of your second solo album?

Helen Marnie: Crystal World was a great success. It exceeded my expectations in terms of its reception. I was nervous about putting my own record out there, having had the cocoon of Ladytron. But eventually, post release, it gave me a lot more confidence. I thought 'I can actually do this'. So, soon I was writing again with the prospect of making another record. Having made Glasgow my home (4 years ago today, exactly) I was eager to meet people I could work and collaborate with. lain from Chvrches put me in touch with producer Jonny Scott, and after my initial email going into his spam folder, we eventually met and began making music together. He understood what I wanted to do. Album two will not be like Crystal World. Even before I started writing I knew the direction I wanted to go in. Crystal World took a lot out of me emotionally. There have been gigs I've done when I'd have to hold back tears mid song. So, while this new record has its moments of emotion, I think it deals with them in a very different way. Oh, and it's finished. Between Jonny and myself we managed to harvest quite a stash of vintage synths. The Juno 106 features heavily, along with newer instruments such as the Moog Sub Phatty. I think the record is a war between digital and analogue.

Rocio: Crystal World debuted as your first solo album in partnership with Pledge Music since Ladytron. A Limited Edition 7" Vinyl, Screen Print Poster and a 1998 Mini Cooper were included in the music campaign. How has this music campaign shaped your future music endeavors? How would you characterize your relationship with fans of music campaign?

Helen: The music industry is ever changing so I think everyone is just trying to work out how to make things happen and get their music our there. It is no easy feat. Pledge was a success but it was not easy. Pretty much everyone who bought Crystal World was cool. They were in it for the music. The all loved what I'd done with Ladytron so were really interested to see where I went next and they wanted to be a part of that. I appreciate their loyalty and I hope I gave them back enough.

Rocio: A Nordic island where fire and ice co-exist; characterized by massive glaciers; geothermal power and roaring volcanoes. Tell me about the role Iceland had in the development stage of your first solo album, Crystal World? What challenges did you encounter from your transition of electro band to soloist?

Helen: I absolutely love Iceland, and Reykjavik was an amazing place to record, however, much as I would like to say that it was a huge inspiration to me, the real inspiration was Scotland. The country I was born to, and the country I would be moving back to in 2012 after being away for 12 years. I was working with a producer in Iceland who had his studio there, and so that's where everything was recorded.

All the demo-ing had been done previous to that, so no new songs were actually written there. One of the things that got to me was that I did get some flack from people who thought my record was 'too' Ladytron, or not Ladytron 'enough'. There was also what seemed like criticism for working with my bandmate as producer. It was almost as if people thought that because I was working with another Ladytron member that it was all their work, not mine. But, as is often the case, more credit is given to male musicians than female artists. Like, there must be a man behind the music. I have no problem collaborating with people and giving credit where it's due.

Rocio: A global phenomenon, Gravity the Seducer album toured the UK, Mexico and Singapore as seventy two on UK Albums Chart. How would you describe the collaborative process in the studio for Gravity the Seducer? Do you have special anecdotes from your extensive worldwide tours?

Helen: What goes on tour stays on tour. Ladytron have toured so hard and extensively there's just too much information to compute. Gravity the Seducer was recorded in a house studio in Sussex with lots of cats roaming the grounds, horses, and a ping pong table in the live room. When I wasn't singing I'd mainly just talk to animals for sanity. Recording can be a very intense experience. We normally write remotely, then possibly pass on for collaboration. The music really comes into its own in the studio though. Over the last couple of years, the only gigs I've done are Marnie solo gigs, and I have to say they have been the most fun ever! Chile & Peru were pretty wild, as was the boat from Sweden to Finland. It felt like I was a kid again, touring for the first time. It's a good feeling.

Rocio: The band's fusion of glistening electro and melodic drama have had them described as cinematic according to an interview for ArtRocker. Collaborating with notable directors like Chino Moya and Neil Krug. How much creative freedom do you have in establishing the visual style of the music videos for solo albums and Ladytron? Did you also contribute to the artwork and packaging for solo albums and Ladytron?

Helen: Ladytron has always had a lot of creative control and we have lead the way with our own album art and videos. I think it's much easier for bands now to just do their own thing. There are no big advances, people are making the most with what they've got. Getting friends involved rather than going through labels. For Crystal World I knew where I wanted to shoot the cover and press shots. There is a disused swimming pool in Glasgow called Govanhill Baths. It's an amazing place. They are desperately trying to raise funds to refurb the pool and building, and I was living in Govanhill at the time, so I knew where I wanted to spend my small budget. My friend, Lisa Devine, who is a brilliant photographer came on board and the outcome was pretty great.

Rocio: What are your forthcoming projects and what is next for Ladytron?

Helen: My main focus right now is getting my 2nd album out. It's finished now, but it will take time to be released. I'll get a single out first. I feel like I've had it under wraps for so long I'm literally bursting to get some music out. I've got some things tied in around the release, but nothing I can go into detail about yet. Ladytron will regroup again next year, with the intention of releasing new music.

Source

23 June 2015

Backseat Mafia interview (2015)

Helen Marnie was studying classical piano in her native Glasgow before dropping out to take a degree in pop music at the University of Liverpool. There she met Daniel Hunt, Reuben Wu and Mira Aroyo forming Ladytron who have influenced a generation of British electronic acts.

With the band on hold Marnie is out on the road touring her solo album Crystal World and as she told Paul Clarke is playing two solo shows to promote it.

So what can people expect from these gigs?

I've been doing my solo project for a while now so the majority of songs are from my first solo album and I'll throw in a couple of Ladytron songs to mix it up a bit. It's a full band with three others, and we've done a few gigs lately which have gone really well.

So with Ladytron on hold it was the right time to go solo?

I wanted to keep making music so I thought it was just good timing. Now I've done the solo thing I really enjoyed it, and I am working on a second album right now, so I'm quite busy.

Will you be premiering any songs from the new album?

I'm afraid not because it's not quite there yet, and the songs are all at the demo stage, so it would take too much time to get them to up to scratch.

What are the new songs sounding like?

My solo stuff is pretty different as it's not as dancey as Ladytron, or as heavy in parts, so it's a bit more of an electro folk thing as my voice has taken centre stage.

And you've got a drummer in the band?

The drums give it the energy it needs, I like live drums onstage, and it feels like a proper band when you have a drummer. I feel really lucky to have found them as they are all really amazing musicians so it's really cool.

New Order legend Stephen Morris remixed your track "The Hunter" for Record Store Day.

That came about through the label that distributes my music as they have a connection to him so they got in touch and he was really up for it.

And were you pleased with the result?

It's always interesting with remixes as sometimes they can transform a song, which is what he did, and it was cool he was into it. But other times it's an odd situation as you've done the original so hearing it in another way can be hit and miss, but I was really happy with what Stephen did.

You grew up loving pop music so that is an influence on your solo stuff?

It's very song based, but when I was writing Crystal World I really wanted to concentrate on choruses, and I think I managed it so in that respect it is quite pop. But it's not commercial pop from a production point of view.

And your solo career isn't the end for Ladytron?

I'm going to get the second album done by the end of the summer then I'll be free to be work on Tron stuff. I don't know how long that will take and what form it will take. People mistakenly keep saying I'm ex-Ladytron, which is not true, so it will be nice to put that right and get back with the guys to write. It's a different beast from my solo stuff so it'll be interesting to see what we come up with.

Source

17 January 2015

MTV Iggy interview (2015)

ICON: Ladytron's Helen Marnie Steps Out on Her Own

In late December, Helen Marnie, one-quarter of Ladytron and, as of recently, a solo artist recording under her last name, played her first solo gig in Glasgow. We met there in a pub to discuss her upcoming album and the fate of her famous band. "I think it went OK", she says modestly, then thinks for a moment. "Except no one told me my keyboard wasn't working for the entire show". The gig — a "not pretentious" benefit for TYCI, the Glasgow-based feminist collective founded by Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry — offered Marnie the chance to get a low-pressure solo show under her belt (and to iron out any kinks like malfunctioning keyboards) before the beginning of a year that will see her play overseas and release her second solo album. It was also a chance to reconnect with the community of her home city of Glasgow, where she returned, after 12 years living in London, two years ago.

With song titles like "High Road" (the name of '90s Scottish soap opera) and allusions to the sea, the influence of her return home is stamped over her first solo album, the warm and emotionally resonant Crystal World, released in 2013. "I think because it was my first solo album, things like my childhood and my influences were going to creep into it", she says. "Crystal World is very reflective and about looking back and reminiscing about things, so Scotland played a big part. It was recorded in Iceland, but Iceland didn't creep into it at all because the music and lyrics were already written".

Marnie went to Reykjavik to record at the studio of Barði Jóhannsson of Bang Gang and Starwalker. She brought on Johansson to co-produce with Ladytron bandmate Daniel Hunt so that the album would not be just a Ladytron project. Now she is working with Jonny Scott, known for his work with The Kills and Olympic Swimmers, who she describes as a "synth geek and quite pop-oriented".

For her next album, which will be out later this year, she plans to write and record with Scott. "I think it will probably go more electronic sounding than the previous one. I think Crystal World had a softer edge. It was electronic but had a folk tinge to it. The next one might be a bit weirder".

As a teaser, Marnie released the Scott-produced "Wolves", a track calling out the establishment and urging people to raise their voices, in September 2014 — pointedly right before the referendum. The chorus goes: "Raise all your voices / Gimme all your hands, take the chances / Don't be fooled, wolves in disguises / All your hands! All your hands! / Hail for better days!"

"I wrote the lyrics at the beginning of 2014 when there was so much information about [the referendum] being thrown at us". She says. "The referendum was part of my life for so long that it was natural that it fed into it. At the time, I realized what I was writing about, and I wanted it to be quite anthemic".

The solo work and return to Glasgow have had some worrying that Ladytron is no more, but that's not the case. In fact, in what will be an exceptionally busy year for Marnie, she expects the band to get started on a sixth album in the second half of this year.

Reflecting on Ladytron's place in and influence on the electronic music scene, she says: "A lot of the electronic music that's coming out now is more pop than Ladytron. I think that we were always more underground than the stuff you would hear in the mainstream. Then, it wasn't like it is now where there's so much electronic music, and a lot of people didn't know where to put us and how to label us".

As for the more immediate future, she has solo gigs lined up in Peru and Mexico this month. It seems natural for her to play in Latin America, which has always been good to Ladytron in comparison to the UK where they "never really took hold". When asked for career highlights, as well as a show in a Brian Eno-produced festival at the Sydney Opera House, she fondly remembers a gig in Mexico City where she could barely hear her own voice over the crowd. The response in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and North America has far surpassed that of Ladytron's home country where the band "never really got much radio play".

While the new album is still in the planning stages, one thing she's certain of is that she won't be repeating her last experience of funding it via Pledge Music — an experience she describes as "a lot of hard work" and "quite stressful". She also credits the crowdsourced method as a factor in the subdued reaction it received, although, the reviews it did get were highly positive. "The day the album was available, it went to the pledgers, so I felt that it didn't get much press because [by the time the media heard it] it was old news; it was already out there", she tells us. Neither will she be returning to Reykjavik to record. She says she is quite happy back in her hometown, a "good city" where "the people are good".

"When I make another album I am really looking forward to just staying in Glasgow and making it here", she declares. After more that 10 years in the business, it seems fair that Marnie gets to do it her own way.

Source

03 October 2014

Podcart interview (2014)

Life Is Like a Box of Records: Helen Marnie

Helen Marnie selected 10 of her favourite songs.


Madonna - La Isla Bonita
There are so many songs that take me back to childhood, some good, some bad (think "Star Trekking" by The Firm), but Madonna back then could do no wrong. Before I got my first yellow Walkman which would constantly play the Like a Prayer album, my dad used to take me to the local video shop in Milngavie where I'd buy my 7″ records. It was a ritual that I loved. "La Isla Bonita" cost about 50p of my pocket money, but it was more than worth it.

Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana
I couldn't compile a top 10 without including Michael Jackson. I was completely in love with him for quite some time. I was a fan club member and used to write him letters and draw pictures for him. Obviously, I was not the coolest of kids, but it made me pretty happy. In 1992 my Dad got tickets for me and a friend to see his Dangerous Tour at Glasgow Green, my first proper gig. It was a breathtaking experience and I feel pretty lucky having seen him. I remember I was sitting outside The Pierhouse at Port Appin when I heard the news of his death.


Justin Hayward - Forever Autumn
I don't come from a particularly musical family, but some influences did creep through. My dad had The War of the Worlds on vinyl and the standout track "Forever Autumn" featured heavily in our house, sometimes even being played whilst I warmed my tights up on the radiator getting ready for primary school. I always loved this song, in particular the narrated part by Richard Burton. In 2006 I was more than happy when we (Ladytron) used it as our entrance music on tour. Loved the vibe it created.

Tori Amos - The Waitress
When was a young 17 when I first attempted to go to University. Being a bit of a dreamer, I was never really sure what it was I should commit to. Glasgow Uni gave me a place, but my choices were all wrong and after about 6 months I knew I had to make the decision to leave. It was so hard, but my family were behind me and I quit. While I was there I was staying in a private flat on Woodlands Drive. Nothing was right about it. I wanted to just have fun, but that was near impossible when the owner was knocking at my door at 11pm asking me to be quiet – I was just getting ready to go out. My friend had made me a tape of Tori Amos' Under the Pink. Having studied the piano for many years I was really drawn to her music. She was weird and wonderful and angsty, and I think of this song when I look back to that time.


The Bluetones - Slight Return
1995 brought my first indie boy band crush. The Bluetones, in particular lead singer Mark Morriss, they were my idea of perfection. I think I loved them all the more because I found them myself, no one directed me to them. I saw them shuffling in duffle coats on Top of the Pops and I was hooked. In the Spring of 1996 I took myself from Aberfoyle to Paris on a bus just to see them support Radiohead at La Cigale in Paris. It should be noted that I appreciated Radiohead too, but The Bluetones were most definitely the main attraction for me.

Lamb - Gorecki
It was in Liverpool that I became more interested in more varied types of music. I bought "Gorecki" on CD from Penny Lane Records and played it over and over in my room in Derby & Rathbone halls of residence. A year older, I was much happier with my choices, having taken time out. Never one to plan too much though, I was offered a last minute place at Liverpool University one day and being driven there a few days later. It didn't worry me that I was leaving home. It didn't worry me that there were no rooms left in halls so had to be put in a guest room initially. I just went with it. Sometimes things just happen for a reason. I firmly believe that.


Air - Sexy Boy
I had a partner in crime whilst I was at Liverpool University. Cat. She was my everything, and we were rarely seen without each other. I think people thought we were crazy. All baby doll dresses, flares, and bright purple and blue glitter eyeshadow pasted to our lids. But we were having the best time. Our work suffered, of course, but I wouldn't change a thing. We were young and silly, shy, naive, but ultimately out for fun, and we found it in droves in Liverpool. We would pull some dramatic moves to "Sexy Boy", both in private and in public. Air were our new electro love.

Joni Mitchell - River
My 2nd year at University makes me think of Joni Mitchell. Blue as an album is pretty much close to perfection. I love the "Jingle Bells" intro of "River", which immediately makes you think of cold nights and the coming of winter. I was sharing a house with 2 friends, one of them Cat. We managed to pick up an old piano super cheap for the house and "River" was one of our faves to play. Me on vocals, Cat on keys and harmonies, washed down with some Lambrini.

Death in Vegas - Dirge
I'm calling this my make out song. Not much explanation required. You get the picture.


Frederic Chopin - Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat Major, Op. 9
My Grandma (who I was very close to) died in Spring last year. She had been struggling for many years, but somehow I never thought she would leave us. From around the age of 8 I started to learn piano and in later years I used to have to practice for 1-2 hours every day. "Nocturne" was a piece I always enjoyed playing, and my Grandma (one of my biggest fans) would always listen and champion me, shouting from the other room for more! When she died I was in charge of making sure the funeral directors were given the correct music. I wrote everything down and handed it over. At the funeral I remember waiting with anticipation for "Nocturne", but they played the wrong song. I was absolutely gutted. Was it my fault? I'll never know.

Source

27 September 2014

The Electricity Club interview (2014)

Following the release of her acclaimed debut solo album Crystal World in 2013, Marnie has unveiled a brand new single "Wolves", a taster for her new album due for 2015. Released to coincide with the Scottish Independence Referendum, it has been described as "a soaring anthem for anyone that doesn't believe in sticking with the status quo".

Meanwhile, the lead singer of Ladytron has been seeking her own path of independence since relocating back to her hometown of Glasgow. Featuring marvellous synthpop songs such as "The Hunter", "Sugarland", "Hearts on Fire" and "High Road", while a solo effort, Crystal World did not venture too far away from the Ladytron camp as it was co-produced by band mate Daniel Hunt. However, "Wolves" is the fruit of her first collaboration with Jonny Scott of The Kills and Olympic Swimmers fame.

Marnie kindly spoke to The Electricity Club about her new venture and her thoughts on the result of the Scottish Independence Referendum…

The Electricity Club wasn't expecting news of a second solo album so soon, so how has this come about?

I guess I'm just not finished yet! I really enjoyed writing for myself and have been writing on and off for the past 8 months, and will continue to do so. I like the freedom that it gives me. I'm hoping by early next year I should have a complete album. That is my plan anyway.

You're not working with Daniel Hunt on this new album?

No. I was happy to work with Danny on my first solo record, but it's always been important to me to work with different people. Having moved to Glasgow, I really wanted to be more involved with the scene there. I was introduced to producer and drummer Jonny Scott through Iain from Chvrches and we just kind of clicked. He's been busy with The Kills for a while, but we still managed to work on a couple of tracks, one of them being 'Wolves'. Looking forward to doing more later in the year.

"Wolves" has been inspired by the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign?

Yes, I wrote the song in January, before everything began to fizz and boil over. The sentiment of the song is basically that change is needed. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, I'm sure everyone can agree on that. People power can do a lot, and people are tired of a Westminster that is looking out for itself.

What are your thoughts about the referendum result and your hopes / fears for the future of Scotland?

I am desperately disappointed with the result, having been firmly in the yes camp. It's such a foreign feeling. One you can't quite pinpoint, but is ultimately loss. However, I've had a few days now to re-evaluate things and think on the positive. I still think good will come from the referendum, and that change will come. If it doesn't, then all hell could break loose from both yes and no voters. I do hope that Scotland gets another chance, but in the meantime I just plan to get on with things. One thing though, Scotland is politically mobile now, like it's never been before. There has been so much passion here with regards to the debate, coming from both sides. People actually care… which is a great feat.

How did you feel about the warm reception for your first solo album Crystal World?

I'm really happy with the way Crystal World was received. People really got behind my Pledge campaign and I was lucky to have the support of Ladytron fans. Without them I doubt I would've made my target.

What of the songs on Crystal World have you been most proud of and why?

I'm pretty much proud of them all as I never really believed I was capable!! But I guess if I had to pick one or two I would choose "Submariner" and "Gold". "Submariner" reminds me of a sad time, but also makes me smile. I envisage the sea and the coastline of the North East of Scotland and golden light over fields when I listen to it. "Gold" was the last song to be written and I flew back to Iceland in December 2012 specifically to record it. Although the song is associated with reminiscing, it has a sense of closure for me.

Is there anything that you wished you'd approached slightly differently on Crystal World?

There are always things that could've been done differently, but there is no point dwelling on something you cannot change. I feel lucky to have got the album out. There were times when I thought that might not happen.

After the Pledge campaign, Crystal World secured a wider release on the prestigious Les Disques Du Crépuscule label. How will you be going about issuing your second long player?

I'm still at the writing stage at the moment, so to discuss something else so far down the line makes no sense to me. I just want to concentrate on getting all the songs together, being happy with them, and then I can take it from there.

People are going to ask, what's the state of play with Ladytron at the moment?

Ladytron are fine. Everyone's still doing their own thing, but we are also all writing.

With two albums of solo material, live dates must be closer to being a possibility?

I'm hoping to start rehearsing with a band later this year. Fingers crossed that all goes to plan. Which will mean I am open to bookings. Any takers?

Source

07 September 2014

Under the Radar interview (2014)

Read on as Marnie discusses her favorite Scottish albums, bands, and films, as well as her thoughts on the Scottish Independence Referendum, in which in a few weeks the people of Scotland get to vote on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and have Scotland become its own country.

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I have been a Yes supporter from the start. I don't necessarily see it as nationalism, that's not what this is about. It's about having control over your country's affairs and not being tied to a system that frankly does not work for Scotland, and hasn't worked for a long, long time. I have faith that we are a talented enough lot to be able to go it alone.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I hope that independence brings more investment for the arts, rather than cuts which are happening at present. I want us to be international in our outlook, and being a part of Europe will benefit Scotland. At the moment, it looks like the U.K. is trying to make an exit. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has always had a thriving music scene, so I don't see that changing. People are determined enough to go it alone and start creating music. If anything, independence will only inspire musicians more. I haven't met one artist/musician who is a no voter.

What is your favorite album by another Scottish artist and why?

There are lots of amazing Scottish artists, but at the moment I'm really enjoying Honeyblood's new album. I saw them in Glasgow last year and they were raw and fun, and I just knew they were going to take off. I love that it's just the two of them and they manage to create such a full sound.

Which Scottish musician/band most inspired you to start playing music?

I don't think any particular band got me into making or playing music. I started playing classical piano at quite a young age and worked hard at it for a long time. At university though, like a lot of people, I got into Belle and Sebastian.

Who is your favorite new Scottish band or solo artist?

A few months ago I went to see another female duo called Bdy_Prts. They had great melodies and beats. They're working on their debut album at present. The gig was great. Good on stage banter.

What is your favorite film that takes place in Scotland?

I saw Under the Skin this year and I absolutely LOVED IT! It was beautifully shot, and really captured the grittiness of Glasgow. The score was pretty amazing too.

What do you most love about Scotland and being Scottish and what do you most hate about Scotland and being Scottish?

I am very proud to be Scottish. I love Scotland to bits. Even though we are part of the U.K. at present, when I was living in Liverpool and then in London I always felt like a foreigner—like people thought I was some kind of novelty. I guess it's because we are such a small nation. I don't hate anything about Scotland or its people, but what I have found since living here again is that people often think they're not quite good enough. Which is not the case. I guess that sometimes happens when you have been ruled from afar, by an elite that don't really care about Scotland or its people.

Source

06 March 2014

PopMatters interview (2014)

Helen Marnie might have made her name as the singer for the internationally acclaimed Ladytron, but in June 2013 she released a solo album, Crystal World, through Pledge Music. The album confounded expectation and quickly cultivated a passionate and devoted following, with many (including The VPME and Polari) giving it flawless reviews.

In contrast to her work in Ladytron work it's an album in which nature constantly pulses and throbs. In it Marnie undertakes a set of startlingly emotional journeys, drawing what some have described as "a map of the heart"—quite an achievement for such a pristine electro record.

I caught up with Helen to try and dig a little deeper into the record, in a conversation that took in everything from the Piscean gift for swimming to her striking choice of outfit for the video to "The Hunter".


In previous interviews you've talked about the state of transition you were in when you wrote the Crystal World. Did writing the album help to deal with that transition at all?

I think so, yes. In fact, I think writing the album helped me deal with quite a lot of things. It kind of sorted my head out a little and gave me focus and freedom to express myself. I guess I had a lot of ideas going round in my head at the time, and a lot of baggage too. It was the perfect release to write an album for myself.

You've mentioned in the past how the sea is a "particularly dominant and reoccurring" theme on the record. I wondered how the sea connected to this sense of transition for you?

When I think of the sea, I think of my childhood. I spent a lot of time by water, exploring and having fun. One side of my family hails from the east coast of Scotland, so that is the sea I am generally referring to. I relate to it, it was a big part of my life. I sometimes feel enclosed by cities, and so the sea is the getaway in my head. There was quite a lot on the horizon when I was writing, one thing being I was going to relocate back to Scotland, so it felt like anything was possible. I am a Pisces, I am a good swimmer, and when I write by water or the sea it feels like home.

Crystal World was greeted with very positive press. I was struck by how the record stretched the boundaries of where I expected it to go, emotionally. Is that just how it evolved?

It was an emotional time for me, and I knew that would be released into the record. It actually made me feel better knowing I had put it somewhere. That the emotion had a home once I let go. When I listen back it will always take me to a specific time, with vivid images and feelings.

In the Pledge promotional video for "Crystal World" you situate yourself very much amongst Reykjavik's scenery, and I wondered if there might have been a decision to reflect the natural environment more for that album?

I was in Reykjavik to record and I wanted to create a promo for the Pledge which was beautiful and also reflected where I was. It was natural for me to use Reykjavik landscapes and landmarks. I must admit though, this album has no connection with Reykjavik other than it was recorded there. All the writing was done before going to Iceland, bar half a song. Scotland is very much the country behind this album.

The video for "The Hunter" sees a real blend of the natural (the forest) with the synthetic (taking the form of a colourful catsuit). I wondered if this juxtaposition was part of making a certain statement?

I was doing quite a lot of running in "The Hunter" video, and so the catsuit was great for that. Not only did it look and feel amazing, but it also looked foreign to the setting, which I guess was deliberate. The designer, Rebecca Torres, made it especially for me so I am eternally grateful. I've always had a bit of a catsuit fetish. I feel good in them. I'm not really into exposing too much flesh, so this one was perfect for me. It was also really important for me to inject some colour into the video and what I was wearing. By doing a solo album I felt liberated, and I wanted that to come across in "The Hunter" video.

Which artists inspired the Crystal World? I thought I might have detected a touch of Kate Bush?

I'm never sure who inspires me when I write. Only later, when someone says it sounds like something or someone else, am I surprised. I'll take Kate Bush though. If it sounds like Kate Bush then it's a winner.

You use the synthesizer in much of your work. But what is it about the synthesizer that keeps drawing you to it?

I started out playing classical piano, and was introduced to synthesizers when Ladytron formed. The keyboard is what comes naturally to me, and synthesizers are able to create a lot of warmth and depth and dirt, so are extremely versatile. With Crystal World I wanted real piano on some of the tracks, I knew that from the beginning. On "Submariner" it is quite prevalent, along with "Gold".

There is a long British tradition of synthesizer music, from artists like David Bowie to The Human League. I wondered how much you consider yourself as part of a British tradition of synthpop music?

We were influenced by a lot of different music, not solely synthpop, but our sound was definitely electronic with the synth taking centre stage. In Liverpool at the time, we were quite different in terms of the music we were making, and having two female lead vocalists was also a change to the mainly male-fronted indie bands.

Do you have any future plans with Ladytron?

Right now we are all pursuing our own projects, however we plan to start getting songs together for a new Ladytron album later in the year...


6 March 2014

Source

18 October 2013

Herald Scotland interview (2013)

That's how it starts. A wail and then a synth wash starts beneath it, martial and, yes, a little bit Knight Ridery, rising to the front of the mix as the voice is pushed back. Then the drums kick in and the vocals jump front and centre. What is this? This is pop. Or Helen Marnie's version of the word anyway.

It's also how Hunter, the opening track on her new solo album Crystal World begins, a first step outside the electronic arms of Liverpool quartet Ladytron, the band she's been a member of throughout the 21st century. And an attempt, she says, to push herself into being "more pop, more pop than Ladytron".

"I would say I am the more pop part of Ladytron, so that was in my head", she tells me over coffee in a Glasgow hotel. "I wanted to write choruses. I'd never worked by hooks and choruses and I wanted to do that".

Marnie has been ringing the changes of late. Towards the end of last year she moved back to Scotland after more than a decade in London (before that she was in Liverpool, where she met the rest of the band). "It was pulling at my heart to come back to Scotland. I got married but he's a southerner and I had to drag him up here".

And before that, and with Ladytron on extended furlough, she had recorded Crystal World, a silvery dream machine of an album on which she sounds a little like Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry's big sister and calls herself by her surname only. "On this I just felt freer to do whatever I wanted. I'm definitely quite open on the record. I think the things I wanted to express are there in the lyrics and the music".

The result is an album with a sci-fi sheen. The cover too. How hard was it to get into those trousers Helen? "A friend of mine in Glasgow, Rebecca Torres, she made these catsuits especially for me. So I owe her big time. I did need help getting into it but the only part I needed help with was getting the leg over my foot. The rest is quite stretchy. It must be my big toes or something".

She looks at the cover lying in front of us. "I think that looks pop. It's quite glossy but also I wanted it to be quite feminine and girly. I'm like a woman who's free". It speaks to the music. "Yes, but without being too clinical".

Crystal World was funded originally by Pledge and is now getting a release on the newly revived Les Disques du Crepuscule label ("Someone said to me the other day 'that was so cool in the eighties' and I was like 'really, I've never heard of it'".)

She's still amazed at the response to her Pledge campaign to help fund the making of her album. It helped that Ladytron's decade as indie electronicists gave her some recognition. "That definitely helped and the reaction was great. It kind of took me offguard. I set a target and we reached the target within a few days, though I have to say the target was quite small.

"I can't say what it was but I have to say it wasn't enough. I think I made over 200% of my target. But it still wasn't quite enough".

That's the pragmatist in her speaking. The dreamer is surprised that anyone would be interested in the first place. "I was quite shocked. I was thinking 'you're going to pay this amount of money for my old bikini? Really'".

Helen Marnie's pop story is the story of an uncool kid who loved Kylie and ABBA and Michael Jackson ("I used to write him letters"), who listened to her brother's Metallica records and studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music and Drama (as was). She dropped out of university in Glasgow before going on to study music in Liverpool where she met the rest of Ladytron. The band named themselves after a Roxy Music track and former Roxy member Brian Eno has been effusive in his praises.

But with her bandmate Mira Aroyo having a baby, Daniel Hunt over in Brazil and Reuben Wu currently living in Chicago the band have been taking their first real break this last year. But it's a pause not an ending. "I think hopefully we'll make a record next year", Marnie says.

In the meantime she has her own record to promote. "I would like to do some live gigs but how to do it, I need to work that out".

This is the start then, not an ending.

Source

10 October 2013

WARP Magazine interview (2013)


If something characterizes the musical industry in Great Britain it's its diversity. We can find cases of global success, bands like those that fill stadiums and are supported by the great international record companies. On the other hand, there's also the artists who make their way by the road of independence, focusing the majority of their efforts in making their music known and playing in as many places as they're able to.

In some place between these two points, interestingly, we have Helen Marnie, better known as the composer and vocalist of the electronic band Ladytron, who at the end of 2012 decided it was time to take advantage of the recess of her main project and dedicate herself to creating her first solo album.

Without the support of a record company to reach her goal, the artist decided to reach out to crowd funding, so popular nowadays, specifically, the website PledgeMusic, a way in which fans support the music and obtain directly from the creators.

The result is called Crystal World (2013) produced by her bandmate Daniel Hunt and completely recorded in the studio of Bardi Johannsson (Bang Gang), in Reikjavik, Iceland, which transports us to a very intimate and personal landscape of electronic and pop sounds, with certain airs of organic nostalgia, something that the singer never allowed us to listen on Ladytron.

WARP Magazine had a chat with Marnie, who from Glasgow, Scotland, exclusively shared the experience behind the creation, recording and release of her solo debut.

How did you find out that you wanted to do a solo record?

It was an idea that had been going around in my head since some time ago, something I had always wanted to do. Obviously, I had commitments with Ladytron, so it was a matter of finding the time to do it. That's why, as soon as we had a break from touring, I figured out it was the right time. I told myself... It's now or never!

What made you go all the way to Iceland to record?

Bardi Johannsson, the co-producer of the album, has his own studio in Iceland so it made sense to record there. It was very exciting to do it in a new place for me.

At what point in time did you realize you were going to have to go crowd funding to make this album?

It was when I first went to Reikjavik. Crowd funding got my attention last summer when I was writing the album. I had seen what artists could accomplish. I had heard extraordinary stories, like Amanda Palmer's, and in light that at the time I didn't have any financial backing,I decided it could be the way to go.

Was there a point in the campaign that you thought there was no way you could raise enough money to make the album?

Of course, even during the process of mixing and mastering, I was afraid something was going to happen and the album wouldn't come out. It wasn't until I pressed the button for "upload" on the campaign on PledgeMusic, that I took a deep breath and I felt relieved. When you don't have a record company behind you, all the weight falls on your shoulders and things that would normally be taken care of, now are your responsibility. Sometimes it's very stressful... when something goes wrong, it meant more delays for the campaign and I found it very difficult to explain to the members. However, I tried to maintain a positive attitude all the time, to not lose motivation. The best thing of doing a campaign like this was the support, it was like having this great channel behind you, where everyone wants for you to do well. It was great, especially when other things stressed you out.

Is it hard to give out the packages you promised during the campaign?

It has been very difficult to organize, but nothing I couldn't handle. Up to right now, I have given most of what I promised, although the 12 inch vinyls have still not gone out. I think the most difficult thing has been to go to the post office and have to deal with these long lines behind me. Have to deal with people looking at me ugly 'cause they have to wait, but I'm used to it already. I can even look at them ugly as well, if it's necessary.

In your experience, what are the pros and cons of getting out a record this way?

The pros: The fact that you have a platform that allows you to reach a very wide audience and that you can personalize the campaign as much as you want. To interact with the participants was comforting and they always were positive, which I'm very grateful for, they had a lot of faith in me and that helped me to do the same with them, to treat them almost like friends.

In the cons... on the other hand, I found that the people from Pledge take a good portion of the funding, which they don't give you until you fulfill your promises which can cause a lot of problems, because things have to be paid for and you don't have the money to do it. Another thing is that they ask you to establish a monetary goal before you start the campaign, however, when you have a delay or another problem, obviously it affects the amount of money you need to finish the record.

How was it to compose a complete album without the collaboration of a band?

I enjoyed the process. I wrote the majority of the songs in a period of 6 months, in my guest room in London. And, well, to write a solo album was very different than writing for Ladytron, not so much in the technical side of it, but in how you deal with it mentally. I suppose I felt more comfortable writing about more personal issues. I was a lot more free to say exactly what I wanted. Musically, I already knew what direction I wanted to take.

How was Daniel as a producer instead of a band member?

It wasn't very different, however, it was good to have him as a producer, he was someone who helped me to develop my ideas and take them a little more out there... like having a pair of extra hands. It was great working with him as well as Bardi.

While you were writing the record, did you consciously decide to get away from Ladytron's sound?

Let's say I saw the situation like a double edged sword. I basically did the record I wanted. The result is an album that, musically and lyrically, I don't think it sounds like Ladytron. On the other hand, my voice will always sound like Ladytron, there's no way to avoid it and there's some people who have trouble separating it.

Do you think that in Crystal World we will find more personal lyrics that you have written until now?

Definitely. It would have been really weird to make a solo record that wasn't so personal. I am me on this record. I loved having the freedom to take the lyrics where I wanted and I have received a bunch of messages from people who feel they can really relate, some have made me cry.

What is your perspective of the musical industry in the United Kingdom? Do you think there's a healthy environment for indie artists?

I think the musical scene in the United Kingdom is, right now, particularly vibrant. If you live in Scotland, like me, you will see a lot of bands that are doing well. Glasgow is really very well fortified musically. There's a ton of places in the city where bands play every night. I just hope that these artists choose to stay in the city instead of going to London, like it usually happens.

Note: interview translated from Spanish to English by Abisag Naomi Cedeño.

08 August 2013

The Double Negative interview (2013)

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.

Source

17 July 2013

Been There - Done That interview (2013)

Interview with Helen Marnie.

You recorded the main parts of your album in Iceland. But you surely have relocated in the meantime, right?

In fact I was in Iceland only for about a month, in August last year. Then I went back there for about a week in December to record another track. I was living in London until about September, but I am back in Glasgow now. Apparently I am at home in Glasgow.

But the thing about Iceland seems to be that you thought the atmosphere there may fit in with the mood you wanted for that album. Or what was it like?

I have been there before, but very briefly, with Ladytron, when we did a festival there quite a few years ago. And yes, I thought the mood of the record would fit in quite well with the surroundings of Iceland. But everything except for one or two tracks was written at home, in the UK. So the influence Iceland had on the album is quite limited, almost neglectable. The influences were drawn beforehand. Iceland was more a serene, a relaxing place where I could record the album. The fact that producer Barði Jóhannsson has his studio there, that was the most important part.

Jóhannsson shares the credits of the producer with your bandmate from Ladytron, Daniel Hunt. But both weren't there from the start, when you knew that you would be doing this solo album. In how far was and is it important for you, that "Crystal World" doesn't sound too much like an album by Ladytron?

I think that right from the beginning I knew that I would be working with Daniel. Of course I would always be connected with what I am doing with Ladytron, simply because of my voice and regardless of the music. But even though I knew I was working with Daniel, I knew that my songs were strong enough and different enough from what I was doing previously. Partly the structure of the songs is totally different and much more pop. Bringing Barði in as well surely helped the album being different, too. Also I did have a few songs before I knew that I would be doing this album, but then within eight or nine months I literally sat down to write songs exclusively for what would become the album. I think this is why "Crystal World" flows quite well.

Was this also a chance for you to let other musical influences come through than usually, except for being more pop?

I think it's quite hard to label and pinpoint certain influences. And I know that some people think that "pop" is some kind of dirty word. But I really wanted it all a bit more traditional in its structure and things like that. I wanted to work on hooks and choruses. When I sit down to write, I have to do it at the right time. That's more what my songwriting is about than about certain influences. I have an idea in my head and at the same time I feel what the song should be like. And it's not like "Now I want it to sound like ABBA. And the next one will be like Fleetwood Mac!" I appreciate their records and they surely influence me subconsciously, but you can't pinpoint that – and I have also been listening to a lot of contemporary acts from Glasgow as well.

I don't know how many breaks there were in the career of Ladytron, but now that the band is taking a break, was it never a question for you to do something different than recording a solo album? Are you that involved in making music?

I think this album is the one I was more involved in than I have ever been. Ladytron consists of four people, whereas there may be only twelve songs on the final album. So I may write five songs, but only two will make it. Also the last gig by Ladytron was probably in December 2011, so I did have quite some time off. And during the next months I also wouldn't be writing every day, you know. (laughs) I feel like I had quite a break.

I can hear that I need not fear that you are a total workaholic concerning music.

No, I just thought like the timing was right. Everyone was taking a step back, taking time off from touring, doing their own thing. Even when I was writing the songs I wasn't really thinking of making a solo album. It was still a daydream in my head then.

The album was first released via pledge music, which means that people paid beforehand and that you had to do lots of promotion even before its release. I have heard from people like Chris Corner of IAMX, who used pledge as well, that it can be difficult to make the process of recording an album public – and to ask for money from people before they have listened to a single full track. What was that like for you?

I don't think I really realized what I was taking on. I thought it was a good platform that would raise the money to put out the album. But apparently it is also very time consuming and it is also a very personal affair. I was quite happy to interact with people, but I also felt quite a bit of pressure. Because I was still working on the record, nothing was mixed, and I didn't have any songs I could let people listen to. So I gave them about a minute of an instrumental part, which was easy to do. Then I gave them a snippet from "The Hunter". So there was always this pressure like: What would the people expect? A Ladytron-like sounding record? Or a dance album?

There have also been deliberately interactive albums via web, like Einstürzende Neubauten did it, where the fans directly influenced if not determined what a song would be like. This is one way to deal with expectations, to directly involve the fans. But you are also letting go of your own handwriting then. Was it difficult not to give in too much to the pledgers' expectations and wishes?

I just tried to keep calm and do what I had to do. I concentrated on making clear to the pledgers what was happening, keep them updated, keep it all positive. They had a right to know what stage I was at. And there were a lot of delays. They had paid a lot for the album and other things accompanying it, so I tried to keep them on the level, to keep them happy. (chuckles)

Have you decided yet if you are also going to tour?

I can see that. Quite a lot of people ask me that. (laughs) I would really be into touring, but… (laughs again) But I would have to live up to a lot of expectations, also my own. I would need to find a band, to work it all out technically, etc. So: Yes, I would like to, but I am unsure yet.

It is known that you used to DJ a few years ago. What's up with that now?

I don't think I had much of a DJ career! I shied away from DJing for a while. At first it was fun, but then I think I had a bad experience. But in fact I just DJed with Mira from Ladytron again, in Moscow. The gig before that was last summer in Poland. I hope I will be getting more confident with that again. When I am acting live on stage I am quite confident with that. But when it comes to DJing I am getting nervous. I guess it's because of the expectations of the people about what I am going to play. I guess that's kind of strange, because I shouldn't be nervous!

This surely has to do with the size of the venues and that you have become much better known than in the beginning.

Yes, in the beginning it was more of a party thing, where I more or less played the records I liked. And then I forgot about it for a while and concentrated on live things. Now I can't just go there and play my top tunes anymore. Like in Moscow, where we play as Ladytron-DJs, and this is a really huge festival.

So you don't DJ at smaller venues under a different moniker or at private parties? Don't you miss this?

Well, I haven't done that for a long time. Probably because things went into the opposite direction, with bigger venues and festivals, things like that. The things you mentioned used to come up some time ago, and they were fun. But as things move on and get bigger you simply get bigger events. That's not always the case, but that's where we are right now. And when you are playing bigger events, you also get a bigger fee, probably – which is good for the band. But I'd be quite open about playing in a little bar in Glasgow and I probably will do in the future, after what I will be doing now with "Crystal World".

Apart from one's own output as an artist it is great to simply share what one likes with other people, isn't it?

Jaa. It's true. When I am writing music I try not to listen to other music. But djing of course is totally different, because you get such a lot of stuff and you always think about what you want to play to the people.

I rarely talk about the lyrics of an album. But I think that there is a different perspective on your solo album. "Message" is another dirty word to some people, but is what you want to tell people about life and society presented differently now?

The general idea is more about sentiment and emotions and being quite forward. For example "Sugarland" has a clear message, though. Then some people may listen to certain songs and think that they mean this and that. But they don't. You know? People may think a song is about a relationship breakdown – but it's not! So it's all up to the listeners, but there is also lots of "hidden messages", maybe even less hidden than on albums by Ladytron. (laughs) This is a solo album and it is quite important that people can see me in this.

But if people think "Well, this is a break-up song", but then it's not that easy because you are not simply putting out a diary...

Right. Though... You see: They are not break-up songs!

Yes.

(Laughter)

Source: http://beentheredonethat.blog.de/2013/07/16/some-interviews-i-did-6-marnie-16242936/

27 June 2013

The VPME interview (2013)

VP: Firstly congratulations on Crystal World, which, without sounding ridiculously effusive, it is a truly spectacular album... So to the questions – rather than ask why you chose to release it via Pledge, I'd be far more interested to find out how you enjoyed the process - updating fans and interacting, getting instant feedback etc. Did it feel rather less like a solitary process knowing you had a fan base out there right behind you, following each stage of the creative process?

MARNIE: I actually really enjoyed the contact that Pledge gave me with people. I've always been quite into meeting fans, seeing what they're about, what they're into, and Pledge gave me this instantly. It was like a huge support network of friends spurring me on when things weren't quite going to plan. I felt really bad to have to keep announcing delays. I mean, if a record was released in the usual way this would not be an issue, but I did feel pressure. However, I'd say 99.9% of the pledgers were totally cool and just kept giving me messages of encouragement. For this, I am grateful.

VP: Following on from that question, you say you felt pressure... was that because as a solo project it's all basically down to you and not a collective effort?

MARNIE: I felt great pressure, but more so because I got Pledge involved. Having people buy my album, along with some very pricey exclusives, without them knowing what the album would sound like scared the hell out of me. They put their trust in me, having only heard one little instrumental snippet. The day I uploaded the album to Pledge was a huge relief. It's like I didn't have to worry any more.


VP: Was the writing process hugely different from working on Ladytron songs. Was it difficult without having a group of people to bounce ideas off?

MARNIE: I'd say it wasn't that much different to the Ladytron process – songs usually start in a solitary way and then may be passed on to someone else. The only difference is that I was working away on my own in my spare bedroom in London and would complete the song-writing alone. I had a pretty clear idea in my mind of the type of songs I wanted to write, the kind of structure I wanted. I knew I wanted it to be more Pop. The majority of the songs were written over the course of about 6-8 months and I feel like it was a time of great change for me personally.

VP: When did you actually start writing the songs for Crystal World? I mean had you been working on them for a while with a view to a possible solo project at some hazy future point, or was it the Ladytron hiatus that gave you the time and space to start seriously writing?

MARNIE: I'd say 8 out of the 10 songs were written specifically for a solo record. The others were a little older but I knew I wanted them used for something. I guess after December 2011, I really started to write a lot, until I went to Iceland in August 2012. So that 7 month period was quite productive for me. 9 songs were taken to Iceland and completed. I then wrote the final track 'Gold' at home in Glasgow late last year, flew for one last time to Reykjavik, and recorded it there in December 2012. Having time away from touring really gave me the incentive to write.

VP: You'd said you'd wanted your solo album to be more 'pop' than Ladytron. However, how would you define pop, do you mean 'pop' in the sense of it not quite being as heavy perhaps as Ladytron- more melody driven?

MARNIE: No, I think more traditional in a song-writing sense, with choruses really taking centre stage. Pop can be dark. Some of the best pop is. If people don't think Crystal World is dark then I think there must be something wrong with them. I also think Crystal World is perhaps more accessible to a wider audience. I've had feedback from friends, family, fans, of all different ages and backgrounds and they all seem to get it. Of course, whether it reaches a wider audience remains to be seen. I'm just proud to have it out there.

VP: The album's production is perfectly judged, the songs sound beautifully polished but are given space to breathe. How did Danny get involved, where you a little worried that having someone from Ladytron would get a sort of, "Ah so it's Ladytron but without the other two" reaction? Saying that I'd imagine it was very important to have somebody on board who you have total trust in?

MARNIE: Danny's production really helped bring the album to life. He was really into me doing the solo thing and wanted to be a part of it. I was aware I would probably be judged for the Ladytron connection but I felt like my songs were strong enough to stand-alone. I am one quarter of Ladytron and I wasn't looking to make an album completely veering away from what we do, however, I think I've made an album that is subtly different, perhaps a little softer around the edges. People can say what they will. I will never please everyone. But I am more than happy with the result.

VP: The album seems to have a number of recurring topics, with the sea being dominant. In literature, the water/the ocean are often used to symbolise change, the ebb and flow of life and of rebirth, new beginnings. Are these kinds of themes you were exploring when referencing the sea?


MARNIE: Definitely, it was a great period of change for me. I felt positive and excited at the prospect of new things on the horizon. I reference the sea quite a lot for other reasons also though, particularly on Submariner. I can't even begin to tell you how much this song means to me. That was another thing with this album. I felt like it was vital for people to hear and feel the real me in it. I wanted it to be personal. For people to listen and relate to what I was saying, or just realise the emotion.

VP: The album photoshoot/publicity shots – again there's the water theme… you in a swimming pool initially in traditional swimming attire. Then in a swimming pool which is empty looking very rock n roll. Where did the photo shoot take place and what's the idea behind the imagery?

MARNIE: Well, the Pledge press photo was taken a few years ago by a friend called Amy K. Walker. She wanted to enter a photography competition and asked me to take part. It was shot in this strange, absolutely freezing, pool in the courtyard of her studio flat in Brixton. The album imagery was shot by another friend Lisa Devine, assisted by Mack Photography, in Govanhill Baths in Glasgow. I'm very into keeping things as local as I can and supporting the area around me and I'd been interested in using this as a possible location for a shoot. We got so much good stuff in there. I think the cover really epitomises the pop aspect of the record and that's exactly what I wanted, it also really works in relation to the title 'Crystal World'. It's stark, glacial, clean, and pretty.

VP: Have you considered performing the album live, I'm sure we could sort something out here in Liverpool, Ladytron's spiritual home?

MARNIE: I have considered it and would love to do live gigs, but that would be the next challenge and at the moment, I'm not quite sure where to start! Right now, I have a huge pledge campaign to fulfil and that it my main objective. Again, I am thankful to pledgers for their patience!

VP: Talking of homes, you've recently moved back to Glasgow after a number of years in Hackney- Was it something you'd always planned to do at some stage, was the pull of the homeland too much to resist. Are you up with the music scene in Glasgow?

MARNIE: My heart has always been in Scotland. Always. I did my time in London, around 13 years, and it was great, but I always knew I would move back to the motherland. Right now Glasgow seems to be bursting at the seams with great music. I'm trying to take more of it in.

VP: I read somewhere that you'd said you were a bit of a technophobe. This may come as something of a shock to fans of Ladytron, who probably imagine all band members travel in futuristic "hover-cars" and live in the sort of high-tech hideaways that make the Bat-cave look like an early Neolithic hut. Can it be true, you really aren't surrounded by state of the art gadgets.

MARNIE: It is true; I am not a huge tech head or gadget fan. Sorry. I get by. I grew up with a piano, and later adapted to a synth. That pretty much says it all.

VP: Finally, "do you believe in love or rock n' roll"

MARNIE: I believe in rock n roll love.

Source: http://www.thevpme.com/2013/06/26/interview-marnie-crystal-world-review/

22 April 2013

TYCI interview (2013)

Q & A: Helen Marnie From Ladytron

Last month, we played our interview with Helen Marnie of Ladytron fame on TYCI radio. Here is a transcript of the interview.

SO, HELEN. YOU'RE BACK IN GLASGOW.

I moved back about October last year. I'm still settling is since it was so busy over Christmas. I'd been in London for about 12 years, then I decided to move back home. It's definitely very different to London. In London, everything is on your doorstep and really accessible, whereas in Glasgow you need to hunt for things a little bit more, but I love Glasgow. The people are great and I'm slowly starting to fit back in. It just takes time.

YOU'RE WORKING ON YOUR FIRST SOLO ALBUM JUST NOW. WHERE ARE YOU AT WITH THAT?

I'm kind of behind where I should be. I'm a bit pissed off since I thought I'd be further along by now. I'm actually doing a Pledge Music campaign to raise funds and get the record out there as it's obviously a very expensive process, but I hope people aren't too upset when they hear they'll have to wait a little bit longer.

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT...

Hopefully so. I just want it to be as good as it can be, and I hope everyone understands that.

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT MAKING THE RECORD?

I recorded the demos all myself but I'm a bit of a technophobe so can only take things so far. I then got a couple of producers involved, one from Ladytron and one based in Iceland, and I went out there to record it.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE ALBUM.

It's quite broad but plays on the themes of ‘the elements', implied and used in ways throughout the album. I would say it's quite pop – way more so than Ladytron, but I wanted it like that. I feel like I'm often the most pop element in Ladytron. As for titles, I'm not sure how much you're meant to give away...

SOME PEOPLE TELL YOU NOTHING, SO DON'T FEEL FORCED. WE'RE NOT THAT KIND OF OUTFIT...

No, it's OK! There's a song called Submariner, which is very personal and emotional to me. Hearts On Fire is another exclusive too.

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST. TYCI, MAKING WAVES. GOING BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER, HOW DID YOU GET INTO MUSIC IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I wasn't that cool when I was younger. I didn't listen to what you would class as cool stuff like My Bloody Valentine or house music. I was a bit too young for that at the time and good into that stuff later. I started playing the piano when I was about eight – classically trained – and then I was always into music and drama at school. I had a short stint at Glasgow uni when I was 17. I got into uni to do music but when I went for the interview, I decided I wouldn't do music, I would do something else. I'm not telling you what I ended up doing but I didn't last there, so I took about six months off and then decided music was what I wanted to do. I went to Liverpool University where I studied popular music and that's where I met the rest of Ladytron towards the end of my degree.

BEFORE WE DID THIS INTERVIEW, SO MANY PEOPLE GOT IN TOUCH TO SAY HOW MUCH THEY STILL RATE LADYTRON.

It's great. It's kind of surprising to me sometimes how many people have heard of us! We did really well in some places, but they never really got us as much in the UK. In a way, it's nice to have that kind of anonymity back home because I don't think I could handle it otherwise. I mean, there have been a few occasions – I got offered free cake in Starbucks once about ten years ago – but I think we have the best of both worlds.

WILL LADYTRON BE BACK AT ANY POINT?

Yes, definitely. That was a worry for the rest of the band when I decided to do the solo album – that people would think we're splitting up, so I've tried to stress all along the way that we're still together. We're just taking a year out to do things. We're all moving around – I've moved here, one guy is in America, one guys has moved to Brazil, so we're just using that time to take a step back before making a new album.

YOU WERE SAYING YOUR NEW STUFF IS VERY POP. IS IT STILL ELECTRO-BASED?

I wanted it to be electronic, yes. Having been in Ladytron for so long, it's just natural for me to want to do that but I think it possibly has more of a folk edge. It's got a softer, more gentle edge than what I've done with Ladytron. There's ‘real' instruments and piano as well, as well as synths.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT WRITING?

I have got a little set up at home and I just have a midi keyboard and a basic vocal setup. That's how it all starts – I'll write a complete demo at home that gets so far and if I think it's good, I'll work on it in the studio to make it into something more official.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WRITTEN FOR YOUR OWN PROJECTS, OR HAVE YOU WRITTEN FOR OTHER PEOPLE AS WELL?

There's been a couple of things but I'm not sure if they ever saw the light of day… I've had a couple of things come past me that just haven't been right. I would be open to writing for other people – maybe I've grown a bit in confidence by doing my own thing and I'm completely in control which feels good.

I went back to Iceland in November and I was working on a song with my co-producer and we were working on a song together from scratch which was something completely new for me. Even with Ladytron, one person will write at home and then throw it to someone else to put a melody down or do some instrumentals. I was really shit scared about this – I didn't know what to expect but in the end, he's such a cool guy, that made me really relaxed so we were just bouncing stuff off each other which was new and I quite enjoyed that.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RISE IN POPULARITY OF NEW FEMALE-FRONTED ELECTRO ACTS LIKE GRIMES AND AUSTRA?

I think it's great. I'm all for more girls doing it. When we first started doing it, there wasn't very many girls on the scene, especially in electronic acts. When Ladytron first started out, it was mostly indie guitar bands in Liverpool so we were quite unusual in that we were electronic, as well as having two girls fronting it which was very unusual at the time.

DO YOU THINK THAT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS A BIT OF A BOY'S CLUB?

I'm not sure that's so true now. Yes, the majority of bands are boys and fronted by guys but behind the scenes, there's a lot of women writing for people, and a lot of the bigger acts like Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry are women who have a lot of influence. Occasionally yeah, you'll meet an arsehole, but generally if people think you're making good music, they want to be a part of that. I've never had any problems in the industry just because of the fact that I am a girl.

THAT'S GOOD NEWS. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE WANTING TO PROGRESS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?

It's hard because at the moment it's quite saturated. I'm always quite embarrassed when I meet new people and they ask me what I do and I say, “I'm in a band”. I feel like the must be rolling their eyes – or maybe it's me who's rolling my eyes, because it seems like everyone is in a band now. Nowadays, it's all so accessible that you can do it yourself. If you've got a laptop and some software, then you should be able to produce something to a standard where it can be heard by other people in demo form.

When Ladytron first started, we didn't go down the conventional route. We didn't do any gigs at all. We made all the music and then got airplay on Steve Lamacq and John Peel and that's how we got noticed. I'm not sure if that's how it would happen now but I always felt like a lot of bands just gigged constantly in pubs but weren't getting any exposure outside of that. You need to send your music to people who are in a position to play it. Gigging obviously gets you into a position, once you have been noticed, to have all your stuff together and play it but it doesn't necessarily get you out there, so I would approach things like radio and get a manager.

AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE YEAR – FINISHING THE ALBUM? PLAYING SOME SHOWS?

Yes – we'll get the album finished soon (although not as soon as it should be!). I'm not sure what will happen. Will people like it? And if they do like it, will I have to play gigs? It'll be good but I'll be scared...

Source: http://www.tyci.org.uk/wordpress/?p=1628