20 February 2019

Lyrics update

I updated the lyrics of Ladytron and Marnie:
- I added the lyrics of all songs from their new self-titled album;
- I added the lyrics of Sweet Dreams;
- I fixed some mistakes in lyrics;

19 February 2019

The Skinny interview (2017)

Electric Dreamer: Marnie Interviewed

"The way Ladytron work and the way I work: it's very different. Of course, in my own music there are elements of what I contribute to Ladytron..." Helen Marnie stops for a moment, exasperated. "This is why it shocks me when I've done interviews in the past with journalists who are perhaps Ladytron fans and they tell me that some of the songs sound very much like Ladytron and I'm kinda like, well, shocked because I don't hear it at all. I know that I'm the softer, 'pop' edge of Ladytron and so when people compare me in that way, I find myself asking: 'Can you see past, or hear past, my voice?'"

Marnie is talking to The Skinny prior to the June release of her excellent second album Strange Words and Weird Wars. We stop off on the subject of the band in which she began her career; only for a moment. The question: how might her approach differ for two very different vehicles? "You have to be able to differentiate between Ladytron's music and what I'm producing, and see past the fact that it's my voice on top," she continues. "And I think that people can't see past that sometimes. I think that some of these songs would have made it onto a Ladytron album but would have been produced so differently. They're far too pop. They're not weird enough, maybe." She laughs. "Weird in a good way!"

Of course, if your palette is more readily informed by, say, indie guitar rock, you may well lazily offer that the new Marnie album sounds just like the first Ladytron album. When in fact it actually sounds little like the last Ladytron album (2011's lush and accessible Gravity the Seducer). Marnie's frustration with join-the-dots critiques is well placed. There is a depth of creativity and emerging personal vision within her second solo collection that should ensure unavoidable reference points remain just that, and don't simply become dreary comparators.

But even so, aside the bafflement (genuine confusion rather than real irritation), she offers with good grace ("I know that we have very, very loyal fans") an update on the band's activities. But that news, dear reader, in the spirit of the piece, is for another day. We will greet their return with the fanfares it will deserve, but for now Strange Words and Weird Wars is ample distraction and then some. We move on.

Our conversation had reached that point via discussion of the Marnie creative process. Her debut Crystal World was an expertly crafted exercise in sleek electro, assuredly mixing melody and mood. For every irresistible stomper (The Hunter), there was experimentation that caught the breath (the epic, seven-and-a-half-minute Submariner). But Strange Words and Weird Wars opts for a honing of the former and, bar the drifting lament A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, acts as a showcase for song craft artfully attuned to the dancefloor. Crucially, the record feels like a properly conceived whole.

"Well that's good to hear. I put out a single a year ago and people kept asking me if it was going to be included on this album. But that didn't make any sense to me because it wasn't a part of the writing process for this album. So it didn't have a place on this album. This album is definitely more coherent and a piece of music in itself. That's more true of this one than of Crystal World. I mean, I hadn't really anticipated that I would make that first solo album but when Ladytron took a break in 2011, I found myself thinking that, yeah, I could actually do it. So even though Crystal World does work as an album, this one had a clearer intent in that respect."

Now permanently residing in Glasgow, a new and developing methodology is at the heart of Marnie's writing and recording activity. "Yeah, I feel like since moving to Glasgow, I've met a good bunch of people," she explains. "It feels like a community here. Most people interact and know other musicians. I guess when I lived in London – and I was there for a long time – I really didn't have that. You live in your own pocket, to some degree, in London. So having moved up here, I met, through Iain Cook from CHVRCHES, Jonny Scott (drummer/producer). This was in about 2014 and it started off with him producing, and then we've moved into co-writing on occasion.

"Everything really starts here at home. I get the tracks to a basic demo stage: a basic song outline. I'll then send it to Jonny for him to polish up. That's generally how it works. With this album, though, we went into the studio and put a lot more work in. Lots of layering, just re-doing everything, really, so we got a better, fuller sound. Some songs are a little bit more worked up beforehand but that's pretty much the process."

As Marnie stresses throughout, the album's complex melodics are built upon a sharply cerebral lyrical foundation. This is none more apparent than on Lost Maps, a devastating and clear sighted report on the state of the nation(s). "Musically, I think it's quite stark and robotic. It was a co-write with Jonny, so he's responsible for the music bed. The lyrics were written round about the time when the Syrian child refugee was washed up on a Turkish beach [three-year-old Alan Kurdi and his family were attempting to reach Greece when their boat tragically sunk in the Mediterranean] and that was a shocking image that everyone around the world saw. The line 'survival's not a crime' came as a result of that. There's hope in the song, I think, but yes, as you say, it's a comment on the dark stuff that is all around us and that feeling of helplessness."

As with the best synth-pop, Strange Words and Weird Wars perfectly models Neil Tennant's 'tragi disco' concept. It's luxuriant and fulfilling: all heart, all art. "Well, I do want to create pop music but I don't want to create generic pop music. I think that a lot of pop music now is over-produced, to the point where you can't really distinguish between, oh I don't know, a Rihanna track and an Iggy Azalea track. It all sounds very much the same to me and it's probably because there are a handful of producers who are popular and they're the go-to for those kind of tracks. But, yeah, I did want to create a pop record but one with depth and with warmth, and I think that comes through with the instrumentation."

As we close, talk turns to touring. These songs would surely come alive onstage, at volume and with an audience locked in to their heady grooves. "Yes, I'm intending to," says Marnie. "I've only got a few things lined up at the minute in the UK but I would like to do more. I'd like to go over to the US and do gigs over there. I've been invited to play in Mexico and we're just finalising the dates for that. I want to go out and play. I feel really good about it all right now. I've spent the last two or three years working on this record, so I really want to do it justice. That's partly why I'm not rushing back into the Ladytron thing. I need to take that time because I've put so much time and effort and money into it, and that's why I want to see it done right. I've got these two bodies of work now – this is my stuff.

"The new music is great to play live. I've only done two gigs so far but it feels great and it's also great fun. That was partly the idea with this second album. I found myself thinking: do you know what? I feel a bit drained after Crystal World. Let's do something less draining, emotionally. Not that it's light, because lyrically it's not. But something more danceable, more beats-driven, was what I was looking for. And that's exactly what's happened."


18 February 2019

How to Raise a Rockstar (The Guardian, 2008)

Ed Marnie retired Scottish Enterprise development worker: father of Ladytron singer Helen Marnie

When Helen was a child we took her to see big shows like Evita, but she hated it. From that moment she was never mainstream in her attitudes to music or fashion. I once dropped her off to see Michael Jackson but usually it was obscure bands. She went to Glasgow to study but dropped out after a year and I thought: "Problem." But then she suddenly announced she was going to Liverpool to study pop music, and that's where they started the band. On stage she comes across as ultra-cool, and the critics use words like "stark" and "robotic" and "austere", but she's not like that - she's funny and down to earth.

It is weird being a pop star's parent. At one gig my pal and I were standing with our black Ladytron T-shirts on thinking we were cool and this kid looked at us and said, "You must be parents." I was once in a bar and this bloke said he was a big Ladytron fan and had a screensaver of Helen on his computer. I looked at him and said, "That's my daughter!"


04 February 2019

Bido! Lito! interview (2019)

"Ladytron are, for me, the best of English pop music. They're the kind of band that really only appears in England, with this funny mixture of eccentric art-school dicking around and dressing up, with a full awareness of what's happening everywhere musically, which is kind of knitted together and woven into something quite new."

This is a quote from Brian Eno. Lifted from Wikipedia and unashamedly so. A quote like that stops you dead. Brian Eno knows his eggs and rarely proffers his compliments so starkly. For anyone familiar with the work of Marnie, Wu, Hunt and Ayoro then the excitement of a return is enraptured in such a comment. For those of you who are not: welcome. They've been away, you see, and now the time is upon us to behold a band that was conceived, then born in Liverpool and brought up around the world. There are places in Glasgow, São Paulo, Chicago, Bulgaria, Italy, London and Bebington that have nurtured and developed the four-piece to the point where the 'electronic pop' (their own simplified tag) of Ladytron is more than just a sound. It's an ology. A way of crafting distant and otherworldly artificial pop sounds that are actually none of the above. They are warm, defining and cultured. They are sweet, simple and dark. They are the sound you'd hear when crossing the International Dateline of space and time on a broken Korg.

We are on the cusp of the sixth Ladytron album, simply titled Ladytron. There's been a hiatus, brought on by life and the merits of living in the moment. There's babies (Mira), solo work (Helen), photography (Reuben) and production (Danny) that have all conspired to keep the creative flow of the band to a mere trickle over the last seven years. But all that has changed and a redefined, realigned and rebooted Ladytron are returning with an album of such heft and direction, it's hard to believe the gap was that long. Danny is stood outside a cafe in Glasgow. It's cold and he's tired. Rehearsing is a bitch. But now the dust has settled on getting everyone back in the same room, Bido Lito! can ask the opening question that he's probably sick of now: where the bloody hell have you been? He doesn't sigh. He almost enjoys the bounce.

"When we wrapped up the last record [Gravity The Seducer], late 2011, we just stopped. Mira had a baby and stuff. We didn't tour it as much as we'd have liked to as we couldn't play live any more. We were ready for a break and we anticipated three years or something like that. A brief pause, I guess."

It's such a good record. A remarkable 'comeback' if you will. There's a nod to new romantic on Tower Of Glass, there's a fraught, post-punk nursery rhyme Paper Highways, there's Michael Jackson pop electro-funk on Deadzone and the industrial seeping You've Changed. There's a lot of ideas fighting for attention here. He continues. "It [the new album] wasn't intentionally over-thought. It was a collection of our various ideas from the break that worked well together as a group. It was actually easy and therefore the most straightforward record to make. We had more material than we needed, but as we'd been working remotely, going in the studio was such a release. Remember we'd also been going back and forth to the UK and bouncing stuff around the four of us for a couple of years."

Ladytron have had the luxury of being able to creatively mutate over the various record deals down the years, so it seemed right to plough on and plan. "We weren't in a hurry," Danny continues. "We'd done six or seven world tours and it was very intensive for a long time. This break has allowed us to hit reset." This time he does sigh. Not a world-weary sigh, more a contemplative force of breath. "We had time to think about if we are going to do another Ladytron record, how do we go about it? We didn't just think about chronology, like when we did on the first five albums, this time we wanted to move things on and approach it in a different way. It's a Ladytron record in its purest form and there's the addition of everything we've learned since we got together."

The album backs that up furiously. There's an argument that the previous album, Gravity The Seducer, was not a typical Ladytron record. Their need to push the boundaries suggested it had been pushed too close to the edge, and the pop sensibilities had been overcooked. This eponymous sixth has more than steadied the ship, it has plotted a course that suggests that there's a future ahead. There've been hiccups along the way. Indeed, the time it has taken to produce Ladytron is not lost on the other band members, as Helen explains. "Seven years in the life of Ladytron compressed into a neat 13 songs. That was actually the hard part, pruning it down to a listenable amount of songs." Electronic music production as topiary? Did it work? Did you argue? "Yes! Personally, I'm really happy with the album. It's different to our previous efforts, but I think it needed to be. We needed to come back as a new, refreshed Ladytron and that is definitely expressed through this record. I'm not going to lie; having four members spread out across the globe is not always the easiest to negotiate. However, some things you just have to work around for the greater good."

Helen's comments are slightly at odds with Danny's, but only marginally as both views are born out of relief. This has been more difficult to arrange than both members are giving us, dear reader, credit for. But the globalisation of technology, infused with the desire to make this happen has brought to the fore the need for an act like Ladytron to flourish. As pop music blands itself through its own advancement, the acts that grow in the margins are becoming more and more essential, or necessary, depending on your passion for the anti-mediocre.

The new album draws on the societal sources that have plotted the course of the majority of Ladytron's oeuvre, especially since the first album. Ladytron have never been shy of exploring themes that are personal to their own world-view. But it's been the 'difficult' sixth album, so what were the main influences both musically and, more importantly, culturally?

Here's Helen Marnie: "Musically, we wanted to bring an energy to some of the tracks in order to create songs that were more danceable, or at least had more of an up tempo vibe. But at the same time we always want to create space and atmosphere with a record, and songs such as Run and Tomorrow Is Another Day do that well. It's hard not to be influenced by the politics of today, but saying that, most of the songs I've written are more influenced by personal events as well as being injected with a little imagination. One track is a dreamscape, exploring that feeling of trying to dodge death as we always do within a dream."

Danny's side of the story has a more concrete base of influence. "Experience and wisdom, really. We were writing in that vein on the last two, but now, I feel, we are closer to the subject matter, especially when you consider we are getting older and we have had more experiences. I'm satisfied with the lyrical content of this one more so than any of the others. We've grown up more and life has shown us things that it possibly hadn't before. I certainly wasn't dissatisfied with the previous ones, but this one has something about 'the moment' to it. A small proportion of listeners would get it from the off, but we've gone out of our way not to explain a lot of it."

Hold on, this is an interview! Explain it then. "No!" He laughs and mutters something about being out of sync with being interviewed. But the roller coaster has started its incline. "I'm not averse to going into detail, but I'd rather people listen and glean from it what they can. There are areas where you are over-emphasising and over-explaining when I'd rather the listener interprets it themselves and that's where the wisdom is. You need footnotes, something to reference in certain types of situations or certain songs. That's invaluable."

The new record hasn't quite got around to the full live experience. Only the two 'singles' – The Island and the utterly glorious bastardised pop of The Animals – made it into the set for the band's three shows in late November (Glasgow, Liverpool and London). It's worth noting that these were an overwhelming success as the quartet gingerly dipped their live toe back in the water. Glasgow was heaving, and a sold-out London Roundhouse proved the demand is still more than there. There were over eight hundred in Liverpool, the older songs being as enthusiastically received as some of the more 'classic' analogue tunes. Ladytron made sure all bases were covered, Helen gave it the full electro Dusty Springfield and Danny wigged out in true Will Sergeant style. The coloured visuals and dismembered hands dripped from the three screens and the synth bass dislodged confetti from the ceiling. The packed Liverpool Academy danced, listened, swayed and thrusted as a rejuvenated Ladytron powered through their strongest moments.

As the band exited the three screens came together to show a giant '¡No Pasarán!' They shall not pass. A comment based on Danny's life in the day-to-day political upheaval of modern day Brazil. With sweat dripping off the walls and the 30-something crowd baying for more, the lights came up and there was a palpable sense that there's more of this to come. Especially in the Merseyside soul of its creator.

"With the Liverpool show, we just wanted to see a load of people we haven't seen for a long time. But I do come back reasonably regularly. Liverpool produces so much unique stuff and has a better infrastructure in terms of labels and 'scenes' for want of a better word. There's a whole bunch of folk that didn't exist 20 years ago and I'm very proud of what's happening here."

With that he exhales, wishes me a good night and turns back towards the warmth of the cafe, the bosom of his band waiting to drink, laugh and row about the rehearsals. They needn't have. The gigs were a success and 2019 sees our heroes take on America, South America and back to Europe, cradling an album that has been more than worth the wait. Ladytron are here for your pleasure and they deserve that embrace so much now more than ever. Welcome back. Don't leave it so long next time.


01 February 2019

The new self-titled Ladytron album was released today!

Today the long awaited self-titled Ladytron album was released on PledgeMusic.

Track listing:
01. Until the Fire
02. The Island
03. Tower of Glass
04. Far From Home
05. Paper Highways
06. The Animals
07. Run
08. Deadzone
09. Figurine
10. You've Changed
11. Horrorscope
12. The Mountain
13. Tomorrow Is Another Day

06 January 2019

Music Radar interview (2019)

Classic album: Daniel Hunt on Ladytron's Velocifero

The fourth album from this eclectic electropop foursome saw them moving in all kinds of new directions

After they dropped the career-saving Witching Hour back in 2005, Ladytron took a three-year break before their fourth album follow up, Velocifero.

Holing away in the luscious surrounds of a luxury studio in Paris, the quartet, made up of vocalists Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo and synth/production whizzes Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu, got busy putting their hearts and souls into some new music. They wanted to build on their previous good work, and hone their increasingly experimental and mature song-writing skills.

Having cast off the trendy and limiting 'electroclash' tag, they continued to explore further into what reviewers at the time would uniformly describe as a much icier and bleaker sound. Blending goth, techno, glam, indie, and new wave, with haunting lyrics and dense production, Velocifero would ever so slightly eclipse Witching Hour as the band's crowning achievement.

"We wanted to consolidate what we had achieved with the first three albums," says Daniel Hunt. "In particular, the third, Witching Hour, which was a huge leap. The longer a group works together, the further you get into your own universe. Outside influences become less and less important."

The resulting album was filled with contrasts. With dark and light. Shadow and sunshine. At one moment you have the post-punk glory of I'm Not Scared, and then the soaring bass rumble of The Lovers. Tracks like the Bulgarian kids TV show theme update Kletva catch you off guard and Predict the Day strips everything back to showcase their most minimal arrangement to date.

"We learned on the previous record to push things further," says Hunt. "To test the extremes of how far we could go with a track, even if the end result isn't ultimately used. We had this basic philosophy of always hearing an idea out, regardless of whether your instincts tell you it is going to work or not."

Ladytron are back in the studio again and promise their first album in seven years in February. The new single, The Animals, is out now and features a remix by Erasure's Vince Clarke. For now, though, join Daniel Hunt as he takes you through Velocifero track by track.

Black Cat

"This album is cut from similar cloth to [2005's] Witching Hour, but it is harder, much denser, darker in general, which is unsurprising after you've just come back from two years straight on the road. Plus, we were making it during the financial crisis.

"I love this track, though. And starting shows with it was so exciting. This is one of the ones where Mira raps in her native Bulgarian. By this track she had really perfected it.

"She prefers to sing in English, though, and this was the last time she did a vocal like that. Maybe in the future there'll be more."


"This one has something special, it still gets me. It was the first tune we had ready for the album, and had been played with a little on the Witching Hour tour in soundchecks, but never performed.

"This has an improbably long held organ chord at the beginning - I can't remember what we were even thinking with that.

"I guess Ghosts is a little different to what we'd done before. When writing it, it always reminded me of ['60s psych rockers] Sharon Tandy with the Fleur De Lys, but then the end result doesn't sound too similar…

"I'd also like it on the historical record that this came out years before any of that 'sorry, not sorry' business."

I'm Not Scared

"This might be my favourite song on the record. Michael Patterson did a wonderful job with the mix.

"We worked on it first in this wonderful studio in Paris. Obviously there's a strong argument for making records in unspectacular places with as little distraction as possible, and we have done that too, but there's also nothing like taking a break from comping vocals and going across the street for oysters, or finishing a session and heading straight for Le Baron or wherever. We made the most of our time there, certainly.

"The recording itself was sometimes a little difficult, though, and we ultimately had to take the session away from the producer, who was having some problems in his personal life, and finish the mix in Los Angeles with Michael Patterson."


"This was supposed to be the hit. Listening back now, it should've been. When we were recording this, it felt like a hit. It wasn't gonna be the first single, but it felt like the one that was gonna crossover. Other people thought that too. For whatever reason, it didn't really happen. It was a popular song among our audience, but it wasn't like it became a proper smash hit or anything.

"I don't think it's underrated within our audience, but I think it's something that we could have done a lot more with. Every band has this story, though."

Season of Illusions

"Most of the tracks were in decent shape from our own studios before we went to Paris, but a few, like Ghosts and Season of Illusions, really took off once we were working there.

"Mira's songwriting was really coming into its own by the third and fourth albums, too, and this might be my favourite of hers.

"When we first started, I was the only one who really had any experience. And then, album by album, everyone was putting in more songs and getting better and better.

"By then, Mira was getting really good at writing, and Season of Illusions is one of our favourite things we've done. She'd done other stuff before that, but at that moment this was up there with the best we'd got.

"Normally she was doing these kind of rap-y vocals in Bulgarian. Then at some point she started writing in English and writing more and more melodic songs.

"She was a little bit in a pigeonhole of just doing these really unique rapping tracks on each album, so by the fourth one she had an urge to do something beyond that. She's lived in England most of her life."

Burning Up

"This was one of many 'not quite' singles on Velocifero. It ended up having a new lease of life on the [housing market crash movie] Big Short soundtrack - which I suppose is pleasing symmetry, given my earlier comment about making this during the financial crisis.

"When we were recording it, in 2007, it was the last summer of calm before the neoliberal bubble burst. To think back to that feels eerily nostalgic now; it was the last moment when things seemed 'normal' (they obviously never were).

"Listening back, the record sounds of its time, but also sticks out a mile in some respects."


"This is a cover of a Bulgarian singer songwriter from the 1970s who Mira's family knew [Kiril Marichkov]. He actually met us at our first show in Sofia in 2003.

"It's a great song. He remarked that Mira's accent on the track made her sound like a hillbilly, or something like that.

"A video exists of us performing this on the set of a children's TV show, which might see the light of day, eventually."

They Gave You a Heart, They Gave You a Name

"This one, I feel, was a little bit neglected - It was a good song, but didn't get as much attention in the studio as the others.

"We really began to hit a squeeze with the time we had available, and I always thought we could've gone much further with that one.

"With hindsight we could've kept it back for another record."

Predict the Day

"This one has very different production to the rest of the record, and was mostly put together by Reuben and Helen. They'd tried something quite different to anything we'd done up to that point.

"When we started playing it live, it kinda went up a level, too, as tracks tend to do. You'll have a version in the studio and then you've toured it for a year and it ends up in a different place. This track developed beyond the version here.

"The album version's production is very minimal, while the rest of the album is very dense. This is a bit of respite [laughs]."

The Lovers

"Some people at the label wanted this as a single. We didn't agree. Listening to it now, I think that they were right.

"I feel like the album is very dense and there were obvious singles on it. This one was one of the best tracks on it. I don't know why it wasn't one.

"We were pushing tracks further and further to the end of the album. A lot of reviews at the time were saying that this was one of the ones that we were doing that was interesting. Maybe we underrated it.

"To be honest, this song is most like what is on the new album. It was just that we did so much stuff in a short space of time back then.

"This track just came up really quickly. It's buried in this sea of reverb and has this really eerie sensation to it. The new single [The Animals] is kinda cut from the same cloth, as it's as dark as that.

"One of our labels in Germany were demanding that this should have been the single, but we already had Ghosts and Runaway and we didn't need it. In hindsight we should have made a video for it."

Deep Blue

"This was actually two tracks, initially. Mira had a song already demoed and Reuben had a very musically different track without a vocal. I could imagine them together. So, as an experiment, I decided to take Mira's song and combine it with Reuben's track. It became more than the sum of its parts in the process.

"I think this is the closest yet to a definitive album. Tracks like Deep Blue helped that. Witching Hour took many by surprise because it was so different to the previous two records. We had changed a lot. But on Velocifero we were already refining what we had evolved into."


"This is one of my favourites. We had it for a few years prior and it went through various reinventions.

"The video by Neil Krug was something really special, too. We were up at Montserrat in Catalunya, but we had no idea what Neil was going to do with the film.

"I've no idea why this one is so late on the record, or what we were thinking by putting it there, as it's one of the strongest singles we ever put out. We were often doing the opposite of what we were advised. Maybe this was one of those occasions."


"Helen and I did this like a duet. Everyone in the studio was a little stunned when the first vocals went down. We received some compliments from people I really respect about this one. I'm still very proud of it.

"I'm proud of the album. It might be our best. I would normally say Witching Hour, and most of the audience seem to agree. Witching Hour is definitely better produced, it is a special record. But I also think this one had a power to it, which was perhaps overlooked at time of release.

"It wasn't easy to make either, or cheap - and at any moment it felt like the whole project could collapse."