26 September 2014

Chief Mag interview (2007)

Ladytron is an electro-super-synth-pop band that hails from, among other cities, Liverpool. We spoke with Mira Aroyo, a founding member and songwriter, about the newest album, Witching Hour, and sing-songing in Bulgarian.

Chief Magazine: What were you listening to when you were a kid?

Mira Aroyo of Ladytron: Well, in my teens? A lot of Nick Cave and Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. These were things that were past on from my parents, so it was kind of a nice first point of reference. And I was into Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, things like that... My Bloody Valentine.

Then I got into sort krauty music and that's kind of how I got into electronic music. I used to go to a lot of krautrock. That's how I got into dance music, sort of, even though it's not dance music at all. I kind of missed out on the rave thing the first time around. I was listening to Sonic Youth, and then I ran into it after it actually finished, sort of in the mid-nineties. But a lot of sixties stuff, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, all sorts of Phil Spector stuff, Serge Gainsbourg, a lot of country.

I was actually looking at your MySpace page. I think MySpace is becoming a new kind of forum for bands to promote but also to actually see their fan's faces, to develop a more intimate connection.

Yeah, definitely. The four of us do it. There's no record label or anyone or anything like that. We spend a lot of our time reading messages and answering messages and stuff like that. People realize that something is not being organized properly or not working and will write a letter saying, oh, I don't know, "There's a problem with the pictures here or there". And you say "Oh, I'm sorry", and then you fix it. There's a hands-on effect.

Do you guys trade off work on the MySpace page?

We all do it as we feel. Sometimes, you know, we just all do it as we feel but we all, it takes quite a bit of time.

Where are you based?

Helen [Marnie] and I live in London. Reuben [Wu] and Dan [Hunt], when we see them, are in Liverpool, though Dan lives in Milan. We recorded Witching Hour in and we have a studio down there. So, I guess in between London and Liverpool, really.

You sing a lot of your songs in Bulgarian. How did that develop?

It started one night when we were recording a long time before "Evil" was out. We were doing a song called "Commodore Rock" and we were just drunk, you know. We'd been out and we got back and it was just like, "Oh, so should we try it", because the rhythm is a lot more staccato. It's got a different diction and different rhythm than English. So it started off as a drunken idea and I just started mashing up loads of lyrics from Bulgarian songs, the national anthem and stuff like that. But it kind of worked and we did another few things on 604 in Bulgarian because of the rhythm of it and I just kept on doing that when the song came up with a similar rhythm. I wouldn't be able to do rhythmically what I do in Bulgarian in English. It's just so very different. It's not patriotic thing or something like that.

So, when you're writing the lyrics are you collaging Bulgarian lyrics from other songs?

Yeah, yeah. Well, "Commodore Rock" was pasted together from all sorts of sort national kinds of songs but the rest of the songs, they're all my own lyrics. Like "Discotraxx" from the first record and the other stuff are usually the same type of lyrics in English but in Bulgarian.

Does the band plan to meet in London and Liverpool to rehearse and write?

Yeah. We rehearse before tours and then we all write separately at home and then we get together, like in pairs or as a band, and then we end up in a proper commercial studio record stuff. We're quite concentrated when we work.

Are the lyrics written before you head in to the studio?

The songs are pretty much written before we go into the studio. The songs are written in our home studio, sometimes away from any kind of equipment, but some may be semi-developed, and then you work on it from there. They'll be 80 percent developed and then you build it up. It's different from song to song.

Do you guys show up to the studios with most of the ideas for the weirder effects developed?

Yeah. I mean, we do come up with a lot of the stuff that's on the way to getting produced, just done in home studios. We have an idea, but on the other hand, some songs take up a little bit of time but other songs completely develop in ways we wouldn't have imagined before going into the studio. Like in the case of Witching Hour, with Jim Abbiss. Jim Abbiss really helped us realize a lot of stuff that we wanted to do but we weren't articulating.

Was there a concept in mind when you put together Witching Hour? Do you think about that or does it sort of happen organically?

We'd been touring Light & Magic and 604 for the two years prior to Witching Hour, that I think the sound really built up because we were playing live so much. I mean, before Light & Magic, we hadn't really been a touring band. We played a few gigs but we were never really happy with the live shows. When Light & Magic came out we went on the road properly and we turned into a proper, viable sort of touring band and we learned quite a lot of dynamics. We were working with a drummer we found it a lot more organic because everything was being played live. Songs from Light & Magic and 604 were developing and taking on a new energy, so a lot of that went into Witching Hour.

We realized what we wanted to achieve, and we were kind of happiest with this sound.

Are you guys writing now?

We wrote a whole lot of stuff during the summer and then we started touring again and we've been on a big U.S. and Canada and Mexico tour in the autumn. Now we've come back from South America and a couple of more dates in the U.S. I think we're going to stop the touring a little bit, have a few shows here and there, maybe more so in Europe, but concentrate on the next record. We're hoping to finish it by the end of April. We've got about 20, 25 songs or so written but it doesn't really, you know, sound as an album. It hasn't taken shape yet. So, we've gotta work on that the next couple of months.

Do you get out to see music at all or are you too burnt out from touring?

Oh, I go to shows all the time. I love going to gigs, maybe a little bit less though than I did, maybe, five years ago because we're away a lot and then when I come home... sometimes I like being at home. But I do go and try to see a lot of bands and I go record shopping a lot. We DJ as well, so we kind of have to stay on top of it, really.

What recent show have you seen that you had fun at?

I'm really looking forward to seeing this English band called Circulus and they're playing together with another English band called Crimson. They're kind of prog rock. When [Crimson] plays a live show, they've got, a brass section and the whole show is kind of, like, contagious and a lot of it is very disco.

I've seen you get charged up by a good audience before. What gets you going at a live show?

When someone is jumping or throws something in the front. It's always great to see people dancing all the way to the back. The last time we played New York this boy came up on stage. He got kicked off, but first he said "I lost my virginity to 'Seventeen!'". We were touring with CSS in the United States this autumn and they had a lot of energy. We'd watch their show and they were just so much fun to watch. By the end of their show we'd be playing and they'd go into the crowd wrapped with toilet paper, kind of dressed as mummies and body surfing and stuff like that. Sometimes people don't realize how much we get out of a crowd.

What about any movies? Have you see the new James Bond film yet?

No, I haven't gotten a chance yet. I haven't seen Borat. I think I want to see Borat, too.

Borat is good.

I've haven't had the chance to go to the cinema. I've just seem films on airplanes and they've all been really bad.