09 April 2011

Planet Notion interview (2011)

I defy anyone reading this article who denies listening to Ladytron at some point during their lives. Personally, my seminal Ladytron moment was using their song 'Seventeen' as my profile song on MySpace when I turned, you guessed it, twenty-one. No, joking; I did actually put it on my profile and kept it there for the seventeenth year of my life. Back in the day, everyone was listening to a bit of Le Tigre, and possibly downloaded a couple of New Young Pony Club mp3s, and up there with those femme-pop disco gems were Ladytron. Part of the whole electroclash era (at its most widespread around the late '90s to early '00s) that has continued to influence a variety of music today such as Crystal Castles and The Whip, Ladytron continue to be one of the most influential electronic acts of the past decade. To celebrate their cult success, Daniel Hunt, Reuben Wu, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo have just released their Best of 00-10 album, as well as a brand new single, "Ace of Hz". AND they've got a brand new LP, Gravity the Seducer, coming this year too. Us lucky ducks got to have a natter with Mira about the past ten years; here's what they had to say:

You've been away for 3 years as a full band even though you've been doing a few individual DJ sets. Where have you been?

We have been DJ'ing all over the world, but also writing and working on our 5th album as well as putting together a 10 year retrospective album with a couple of new songs on it and also a little photo booklet for the limited edition package.

Throughout the years you've been compared to acts such as Kraftwerk and The Human League but who are your influences?

They are very varied, from '60s girl groups to My Bloody Valentine, from '70s prog and folk to obscure disco, from '70s german bands to pop and R'n'B. We have never been interested in recreating anything. There are elements and sounds we have taken from all over the place but the main thing is that we have always wanted to have our own sound and I think we have achieved that.

As figureheads for the 'electroclash' scene, how would you describe that sound?

We never saw ourselves as figureheads of any scene really. The main thing we have in common with other musicians lumped under the same banner is use of synths. We don't really make dance music however, are a band, perform live in a very traditional sense of the word and make albums that are to be listened as a whole, as opposed to a few songs destined for clubs. I also think our music is quite a bit more layered and not as minimal and clean.

You started over 10 years ago. How has Ladytron changed since it began? How have you guys evolved since then?

When we started out we didn't really know where we were going or what we were doing. Everything evolved very instinctively. Our music has become thicker and more layered and varied, as we have learned a lot of things along the way. We have toured all over the world and playing live has had a huge effect on how our music developed. 604, our first record, was written and recorded before we played almost a single gig so it kind of sounds more fragile in a lot of ways. Playing live toughened us up in a lot of ways.

As artists you've seen a rise from cult status into deserved commercial success. But you've always had this aura of remaining on the fringes. Do you see yourselves as trendsetters?

I wouldn't say we are trendsetters in any way, but when we started out there weren't many people making the kind of music we were and we had to justify why were doing it quite a bit, where as now it seems to have seeped into the main stream. There weren't many bands using synths in the way we were 10 years ago and now you hear certain sounds and production everywhere.

Why do you guys prefer to use old school analogue tech rather than go digital?

We don't really use only old school analogue stuff. We record digitally and use all sorts of digital instruments when we need to too. We are not purists in any sense. We just like the sound of old synths and organs and the way you play them and work with them, so we end up using them a lot. They give you a much warmer sound and we like the element of unpredictability you get and also the uniqueness of the sounds. Often we cannot recreate sounds that we have used once on a record. It's a case of you get a good sound, use it and record it as you might not be able to get it again.

Your songs feature in loads of computer games; what do you think makes Ladytron so popular for these soundtracks?

Computer games have evolved so much in the time we have existed as a band. They are much more cinematic nowadays and so look for creating an atmosphere and a mood. I guess our music gives them that. Also we probably have fans amongst the people compiling these soundtracks and so they use our songs. In a way our music is also very universal as it is quite melodic. We really enjoyed writing music specifically for The Sims game and look forward to doing more of that.

I've read that you're all currently living in separate cities. Do you guys still hang out when you're not touring, or is it now more of a professional partnership?

It's a bit of both. We see each other socially every now and again, but because we spend so much time together anyway, it's important to have a life outside that relationship too. I don't think we would have lasted as long or developed as much otherwise. It's good to bring new influences into the equation and also to feel refreshed when we do get together to work on music.

What were the last 5 records/artists on your collective iPod?

Caribou - Swim; Tame Impala - Innerspeaker; Squarepusher / Shobaleader One - d'Demonstrator; Bot'Ox - Babylon by Car; Jacques Dutronc- L'integrale.

How did you come around to working with Christina Aguilera last year (on her album Bionic to write the songs "Birds of Prey" and "Little Dreamer")?

She was a fan of our music and seemed very familiar, not just with the famous songs like "Playgirl" and "Destroy Everything You Touch", but with the whole albums. She wanted our kind of sound and luckily she just went straight to us as opposed to asking someone else to write and produce in our style, which has happened in the past.

Any more collaboration on the cards?

Hopefully. We look forward to writing and producing with other artists.

What's the plans for 2011?

Releasing 2 albums, more DJ gigs, more live shows.