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

21 September 2019

MusicOMH interview (2019)

This Music Made Me: Ladytron

Beginning in 2001 with their debut 604 and continuing through 2002's Light & Magic, 2005's Witching Hour, and 2008's Velocifero to 2011's Gravity the Seducer, Ladytron established themselves with a keen pop sensibility, an arch wit, and a restless experimental edge. Outlasting the electroclash trend they were connected to upon their debut, they emerged as sonically diverse, lyrically eccentric, masters of their craft.

Following the release of two enthusiastically received singles, The Island and The Animals, Ladytron distills 20 years of experimentation into one propulsive album. The band again push the boundaries of electronic pop in invigorating directions with thirteen songs that explore the disquiet of our times. Loaded with their trademark analogue synths propelled by relentless rhythm, their eponymous sixth release is a hypercharged record that radiates a visceral urgency.

On the release week of Ladytron, principal songwriter Daniel Hunt returns to his roots and influences for Ladytron's This Music Made Me...

Amanda Lear - Sweet Revenge

Ran into her at a party during the Cannes film festival, which I do understand sounds like the only circumstances where a chance meeting with Amanda Lear could or would occur.

A friend introduced me as a member of Ladytron, she responded "Oui Oui, the days when Bryan Ferry didn't need to dye his hair" and just floated off into the sunset.

Chrisma - Chinese Restaurant

I lived in Milan for five years or so, was naturally played a lot of Italian new wave, disco and post punk by friends (incidentally, nobody there recognised the genre "Italo Disco"), and was introduced to this by Chrisma (Krisma).

Later it was a honour to discover that Maurizio Arcieri was a fan of our band.

Pink Industry - Low Technology

I actually joined this band for their comeback show in 2012, 25 years since they had performed, a one off in São Paulo.

It was incredible really, the group were far more popular in that enormous city than they were anywhere else, which was all down to a few influential DJs during the 80s. Jayne Casey is a dear friend and High Priestess of Liverpool.

Lush - Gala

Though this was a compilation not an album per se, it always stood up as one.

Hearing Deluxe for the first time was a gateway to a lot of new music and was the trigger for a shift in my tastes.

I was still at school, and could not have contemplated that 25 years in the future I would be working on their new record with them.

France Gall - 1968

There was a phase in the years before the band began when this stuff was practically all I listened to. I was obsessed.

I travelled to Paris regularly to buy vinyl – in those days not out of collector fetishism, but simply because it was the only way to get the music.

It was during these trips that I met Bertrand Burgalat, Kahimi Karie and the crew around Tricatel records, who Ladytron ended up releasing an early EP with. When France Gall died I was mourned like everyone did for Bowie and Prince.

Rush - Permanent Waves

So much ideologically wrong with Rush but Freewill is a banger – you can't argue with that.

I once wiped out the dance floor at a techno party at Amsterdam Paradiso with it when DJing with Soulwax. Sorry about that.

Dalek I Love You - Compass kum'pəs

I have to include at least one from Eric's-era Liverpool.

Dalek I gets in here because my friend Jackie and I used to sing an adaptation of Destiny, the big tune from this record, when we were en-route to our local cafe for breakfast: "Coffee I love you. Coffee I love you. We're going to save the world. We're going to change your world."

Alan Gill went on to do the score for Letter to Brezhnev which was hugely influential on me.

United States of America - United States of America

This is an example of a record that was disproportionately popular in Liverpool during the early 1990s.

It was amongst of a group of psych rarities that were reissued around that time that were staples on our scene, whilst somehow seeming peripheral for our friends in London.

I'm not sure if that kind of thing still even happens, I'd like to think it does.

The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows

I played this to death, and those songs, like 138th Street, are burned into my memories of that time.

It was a period when we were practically never home.

Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes

I was given this as a gift by a friend in Japan around 1995 or so. He was really keen for me to have it.

Twenty years of twists and turns later I was living in Brazil.


29 March 2019

mxdwn interview (2019)

If anyone has felt they've been sitting alone in the center of a world churning frantically around them, Ladytron has come back with the perfect album to tap into your mood. The self-titled Ladytron is the band's first release since 2011's Gravity the Seducer and provides what guitarist, synthesist and vocalist Daniel Hunt describes as a "snapshot" of the current times, based on personal experiences and reflections. Hailing from Liverpool, all four original members of the band came back together in 2016 after spreading out across the globe—Hunt in Sao Paolo, lead vocalist Helen Marnie in Glasgow, vocalist and synthesist Mira Aroyo in London and synthesist Reuben Wu in Chicago—to begin creating music again. They came to a somewhat more mature and darker sound than before; the opening lines of "The Animals," the first single off of Ladytron ("There's no law / There's no God / There's no harm / There's no love") contrasts with the airy "White Elephant" from Gravity the Seducer ("Surrender with me / We're walking in our sleep") but can promise the same haunting air and electropop that Ladytron delivers.

What built up to the eight-year hiatus and how did it end?

We released five albums in 10 years from 2001 to 2011 with a lot of touring around the world in between. It was time for a break, but we did not expect it to last quite so long. Life took over as it does. We moved countries, continents, had families and so on. Finally, in 2016 we were all ready to begin working on a new album. The hardest part was keeping quiet about it for two years.

This album addresses a global social unrest. Why did it feel important to say something?

It's more simple than that; like anyone, we are influenced by our surroundings. The themes of the album are actually very personal, not about events or currents. But the disquiet of this moment is background noise that nobody is immune from and cannot help but be affected by.

What has it been like working all together again?

Enjoyable, we have spent so long apart. It is easier to get back on-board than we imagined.

How did you approach the creation of this album, this new chapter for Ladytron?

We planned to take a break after 2011's Gravity the Seducer, but we envisaged it would be maybe a few years. In the end, it was June 2016 before we came together to begin making a new album when all of us were ready in both our personal and professional lives to do it.

Have you found changes in the music scene after the years that you've had to contend with as a band?

As a group we have never paid much attention to what is happening outside. There have been changes for sure, but not ones that we feel particularly affected by. For example, technological changes—we're natives to the way music is made and consumed today as the seeds of this were planted right around when we began.

"The Animals" has some pretty intense opening lines — why was that the first song you decided to share?

It was the first song that was ready, but also we felt it was the correct one to release first. It sounds like Ladytron, it is also in many ways unlike anything we had done before, certainly lyrically.

The three songs released from the album express some nihilistic views. Does the album go on to provide any messages of hope or comfort?

We consider the album hopeful. We are not nihilists. The imagery is there because it reflects the moment we are in, a reckoning with the present. That is also an escape route.

Given the themes of the songs, would you say the album is a cathartic work, or a cautionary message to take action?

More a catharsis. We don't consider it a comment on the times we are in, more a snapshot. In a sense, those themes are the landscape inside which we experienced the personal experiences which inspired the songs.

How are you preparing to start the tour together again? Anywhere particular you're excited to stop at?

Right now, we are in Mexico. We then go to California. Two places that were always good to us, and important at the very beginning, and a fitting place to start.


10 March 2019

99.3 County FM interview (2019)

Interview with Helen Marnie on 17 February 2019. Some highlights:

Helen said that her solo albums played a part in the delaying the sixth Ladytron album.

The interviewer asked if Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music had anything to say about the band's name. Helen replied that she doesn't know and added that she thinks that Daniel met Bryan Ferry and he definitely met his son.

The interviewer also wondered why Brian Eno didn't ask Ladytron to produce a track. Helen said that "well... we never know, maybe in the future". The interviewer then mentioned "at least remix something by Ladytron" and Helen said "it's something we should remedy".

Helen said that Mira has 2 kids now.

Get Some Magazine interview (2019)

Brenton Woodrow: How has your time apart influenced your most recent album?

Helen Marnie: A lot can happen in 7 years, and a lot has happened for us all. Some of us have moved continents, started families, began new work endeavors, and generally just dealt with the hand that has been dealt to us. All that can creep in and play a part in what you create.

BW: As your style has changed over the years what do you see as the defining elements of a Ladytron song?

HM: I think we're constantly trying to challenge ourselves musically, but we also know what is quintessentially Ladytron, and what makes us stand out from the crowd. That comes from the very recognizable vocals of myself and Mira, submerged in the warmth of synths.

BW: You've toured all over the world, what have been the most memorable tour moments or shows?

HM: I'm currently in Mexico City and we play our first show here in 8 years, so I'm really hoping it's going be amazing as the crowds have been so wild previously, but asides from what I'm looking forward to right now my favorite gigs from the past are probably Bogota, Columbia, and also having the opportunity to play the Sydney Opera House as part of Brian Eno's curated festival.

BW: Having done a few collaborations over the years with artists like Christina Aguilera and RM Hubbert, do you have a dream collaboration with any artist living or dead?

HM: There are loads of artists I'd love to collaborate with because I think that's when you produce your most interesting work. I recently hung out with Jake Shears and I reckon it'd be cool to make something with him. I'd also love to make a dance track with my friend Reggie Watts. He's an all-around super talent.

BW: The Harmonium Sessions were an interesting foray into an acoustic sound, has the band ever considered a fully acoustic album?

HM: I doubt that will happen because we're too concentrated on exploring our sound and developing what we can do with technology. It's nice to create things like the Harmonium Sessions, but that would be more of a sister record to the real deal.

BW: Why is this album your self titled album?

HM: For us, there really was no other option than to come back. It suggests a fresh, new start. It embodies everything that Ladytron is, wrapped up in an eponymous title.

BW: What emotions or experience do you hope the listener takes away from "Ladytron"? How is that different from previous albums?

HM: I think all we can ever hope for is that people come away after listening to the album and feel some sort of connection. For me that is key. I don't want to alienate people, I want them to read into my lyrics what they will, and really make them relevant to their own lives. So whether that is sadness, joy, anger, fear, or hope, it doesn't matter.

BW: What's the tour environment like off stage? Do you all hang out together and experience the cities you visit?

HM: We do try to fit in some downtime and experience the culture of the places we visit, but it's not always possible due to tight schedules. Also, jet lag can be a killer and sometimes scuppers plans. But, we do all hang out together, go for food, have some drinks, and generally just try to enjoy the time we have in a city.

BW: What was more fun, having music featured in the Sims or being in Yo Gabba Gabba?

HM: Both were pretty fun experiences. I remember writing the lyrics for The Sims, then having them sent back to me in Simlish and having to record the vocals. I loved not singing in my own tongue and having this secret language. Yo Gabba Gabba was a different kettle of fish because we were actually there in studio filming and being silly. Because it was a kids tv programme we felt like we could let loose a little, and I think you can see that in Reuben's spectacular synth antics.

BW: Do you listen to your own music? If so what format and venue do you prefer? MP3 + headphones? Car stereo and CD? Record player?

HM: I do actually. In fact, I've been listening to the Ladytron record for about a year normally in the car. It says a lot that I'm still not sick of it.

Thank you to Helen Marnie for this insightful Q&A.


08 March 2019

Billboard interview (2019)

Musicians are not machines, even if they use them, and by the end of 2011 and the Gravity the Seducer cycle, the members of Ladytron needed a break. Lead singer/synthesist Helen Marnie says that life in the group had been a constant since they banded together in 1999, and they needed to spread their wings. "If you don't have that spark, it will come across," notes Marnie of the creative process. "It was never like this thing that we would take a year or two years off. It was unspoken, but no one thought that it would take this long."

During their unexpected hiatus, three of the four members moved away from their London home base. Mira Aroyo remained there, while Marnie returned to her hometown of Glasgow, Daniel Hunt relocated to Sao Paolo, and Reuben Wu nested in Chicago. Hunt has since worked on movies scores and co-produced projects including the Blind Spot EP for Lush in 2016 and Marnie's first solo album Crystal World in 2013. Arroyo has been producing documentaries, while Wu has traveled and indulged in his photography.

Hunt encouraged Marnie to dive into her solo music because he felt she had the material, and both her crowdfunded debut and 2017's Strange Words and Weird Wars were well received. The latter, a dynamic, dark-leaning effort that was among the best releases of 2017, was produced by Jonny Scott, who co-wrote a couple of the tracks.

"That was a different kind of kettle of fish because there was no Ladytron connection," says Marnie of her sophomore effort. "I enjoyed that more because I feel like some people didn't give me the credit that I was due on the first album. Maybe they thought that Danny wrote all the songs and I just sung them, that I hadn't put the work in. But it was my album. This one was quite different from Crystal World.

"I absolutely loved doing it," Marnie says of her solo work. "But it was also very, very stressful because I didn't have any backing and didn't have a label."

But after two solo albums, Marnie – with new material in hand – was ready for Ladytron's return. "We'd not been together for a long time, and it just felt right," she says.

Like her second solo release, the new Ladytron album is dark. Lyrical themes of transition, feeling unsettled and apocalyptic angst run through the self-titled album. That wasn't pre-planned. "We've never discussed lyrics between us really, unless there's a track that hasn't had lyrics," says Marnie. "Then we've gone into the studio and completed them there, but that's very rare. We never discuss themes beforehand. It all seems to just come together and click. I feel it would be odd for us to discuss things like that with each other."

One such song was "Figurine," for which they had music in the studio but no lyrics. Hunt conjured three words that Marnie then spun other lyrics around. "I kind of panicked and the night before was up super late trying to work this song out," she recalls. "Then Danny and I did go over it the day that we were due to record it."

Given that the members don't discuss their lyrics before bringing them to the band, you might think it's challenging for Marnie to engage with the material. "Maybe that's why my delivery's quite detached," she says, laughing. "For me, it's more about interpreting the sound of the words. How you emphasize certain words is important to me. That's kind of my delivery. It's less about, this is a love song, it needs to feel this way. I'm more concerned with the shape of the words, how my voice and my tone fit in with that. I think tone is so important. There are some vocalists I just can't stand because it's almost like they try too hard. For me anyway."

Many people have used the word "icy" to describe Ladytron's sound, but there's a lot of warmth there, too. "I think the iciness idea comes from people's perception of synthesizers and that they are somehow cold," muses Marnie. "That's so far from the truth because you can create anything with a synth, you know? You can make it really deep and fuzzy. They can create warmth, but I think that there is some confusion and that's where that iciness idea comes from."

The wild card on this self-titled album is Cavalera Conspiracy/ex-Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera, whom they brought into the mix for a few tracks. His style lent a different energy to Ladytron's music, which diverges from the ferocious thrash and death metal he's known for playing (though he's also become a DJ in recent years and remains steeped in the traditional music of his Brazilian heritage).

"We just let him have free reign, and he would play over the tracks and completely transform them," says Marnie. "It was amazing. If you listen to some of the tracks, you'll hear they suddenly kickoff and almost sound like a carnival. That's him. I don't think that we would have got that from someone else really. It was quite inspiring to watch him."

Hunt met Cavalera after moving to Brazil, the latter's homeland, and initially thought they might hang out a lot. "And then Igor moved to London, so it didn't quite happen as he had planned," remarks Marnie. "He was a drinking buddy, and they're friends. Danny asked him if he would consider coming in for a day or two, and he was really up for it. It was great."

Even though the '80s are an obvious reference point for Ladytron, the specter of '60s pop and baroque pop occasionally emerges on new tracks like "Until The Fire" and "The Animals," not to mention those lush, gorgeous vocal harmonies on "The Mountain." Marnie ascribes that vibe to Hunt. She says he grew up with '60s club nights in the Motown and northern soul vein. "I think he's perhaps quite influenced by that more so probably than the rest of us," she says. "That's probably where it snuck in."

Marnie, who enjoys '80s pop as well as genre-blending '90s acts like Air and Massive Attack, grew up with classical music and played piano until she went to university.

"I was good, but I wasn't good enough," the singer confesses. "I was never going to be a classical pianist. But I did put in a lot of work when I was younger. All your friends would be out playing and you'd have to come in and do one to two hours a night. When you start to do well and get better and the grades are getting higher, it's much more work. That's how I grew up from about the age of eight. I studied piano. I love classical music. I like opera, I like singers like Maria Callas, and [composers like] Puccini and Verdi. Maybe that does kind of creep into my music, but I would think it'd be more in motifs and little riffs and things that might appear in classical music."

Certainly, the lyrical themes on Ladytron could work on an operatic scale. While the band members like to keep the meaning of their colorful prose cryptic, the imagery on the new album is dark and ominous on tracks like "Horrorscope" and "Deadzone." And at least one track is personal. "['You've Changed'] is "inspired by someone that I know," says Marnie. "Or used to know."

The album's closing track, "Tomorrow Is Another Day," summons a hopeful air, but even then, one might interpret it as a portent of renewed strife. "I read a review yesterday, and it was saying just that, like not fulfilling your destiny," says Marnie. "Like you're just saying, oh well, I can always do it again tomorrow. But when I wrote it, it wasn't really like that. I guess it's just your perspective. It is hopeful, and that's why it's the last track on the album. I think you always need that bit of a lift to round up and just finish on something that is positive or has the potential to be positive. It's a sad song for me. It's pretty emotional."

The dystopian video for second single "The Island" is producing emotional responses from the band's fans, too. It depicts a humanoid woman escaping a laboratory and exploring the countryside… until she's hunted down by unidentified officials who set her ablaze with a flamethrower. While Marnie says director Bryan M. Ferguson's video was not consciously modeled after Stranger Things, it does somewhat mirror images of Eleven after she breaks free from Hawkins Laboratory.

"If you some of his past work, it's so twisted and colorful," describes Marnie. "It's dark but full of color. It's so weird. It's like obscure film festival material, and that's just what he's always done. The song 'The Island' has that kind of dystopian, messed-up feel, and it's quite claustrophobic. He just wanted to convey that really and how humanity is fucked basically. That pretty much comes across in the video."

The singer loves the "Island" clip but soon learned that not everybody else would. "I showed it to a few people before it came out and they were horrified," recalls Marnie. "I just think they didn't think it would end that way. I think they were hopeful that it was going to turn out okay. We were like, 'nope, this is going down.' I don't think some people could really handle that."

Six albums into their career, the U.K. quarter have proven their staying power, surviving the short-lived electroclash boom they were initially tied to.

"It felt weird because I didn't think that we sounded anything like our contemporaries," admits Marnie. "In interviews, we used to get a bit pissed off, but now it's fine because not many of them have survived at all or made decent albums since 2003 or whenever. But we just kept putting things out, and I think we proved people wrong. I just think it was a really lazy, lazy label anyway, but it did characterize a time when electronic music was coming to the fore. Obviously now it's everywhere, but that was probably the start of it all."

Given that Ladytron's music is sculpted in the studio and involves multiple layers of sounds and sometimes vocals, there will be those listeners who, when experiencing them live, will want to know what they are listening to. For the group, that is not the point. "There's a lot of super fans and that really bothers them — they need to know, how much is live and how much isn't," says Marnie. "But they'll never know. Take 'The Mountain' off this album. How are you going to recreate that with four people on stage without having backing? It's just not possible."

Even if Aroyo can harmonize with Marnie for that song, "you're still not going to get the full sound [without help]," says the singer. "The general listener or concertgoer doesn't care about that, but there will always be a handful that it bothers them if it does not seem to be completely live. But this is as live as we can get it without losing what is part of Ladytron."

And that unmistakable sonic identity is what's helped them stand out all along.


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.


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."


06 September 2018

ClashMusic interview (2018)

For a while there it looked as though we had lost Ladytron.

The much-loved group covered Noughties digital pop in swathes of black, a stylish, artful project that merged terrific songwriting with a slew of fresh innovation.

Largely silent for seven years, Ladytron recently began to stir. Work on a new album is progressing, with the band recently sharing new single 'The Island'.

A brooding, dystopian return, its taut paranoia and synthetic feel is perfect for these unreal times, and comes equipped with a magnificent short film.

Shot by Bryan M. Ferguson in and around Glasgow, it opens with the birth of a humanoid, The Experiment, and we follow its troubled, threatened existence.

An intense yet beautifully shot clip, it's a sign that Ladytron don't just want to match past glories - they want to surpass them.

Watch the video below, then check out a full Q&A with Ladytron after the jump.

Ladytron have been away for so long, how do you go about assessing what the group means, and how it should sound in 2017?

Daniel: It was really quite basic. We decided in July 2016 to begin making a new album. five years from the last one's release. A few years later than we had expected. We began working on material and during that first phase it actually felt easier to be making a record after this amount of time, separate from chronology, or live shows or anything else. Then there's obviously certain things that strike you during the creative process - the world has changed tremendously in seven years, so have we.

But I can't say that we gave any conscious consideration to external factors in terms of how it should sound. We never do.

'The Island' recalls those stellar early singles, did you want to hone in on that electronic pop sound?

Helen: I think it was more a case of remembering where we came from, our strengths, and nodding to that time whilst also wanting to move our sound forward and develop as a band.

Daniel: To me it doesn't sound like the early days per se, as all of our albums had this sonic thread, but what is evident on the Island is that we approached this record with a blanker canvas than we have had for a long time. We were more free.

Recording sessions took place in the south of England, was this a productive time for the group? How was it to write another chapter for Ladytron?

Daniel: We were recording in the countryside near Cambridge, I've worked there before, but not for this amount of time. Staying out of the city was productive but it was a relief to return to dirt and chaos as a reward when it was wrapped.

'The Island' feels tied in to the current climate, to the general sense of disquiet many of us feel right now. Was this a personal song? Did any specific events – political, societal – spur its writing?

Helen: Yes, it is a personal song. It was triggered by an event in my own life, but equally it's broader than that trigger. I guess it's a cry for help, a call out to like minded people who are passionate about our world and where it's heading.

Bryan M. Ferguson is the perfect choice of director, were you fans of his work? Was there a lot of communication before the shoot?

Helen: A designer friend of mine actually gave me a link to Bryan's films, and i binge watched them immediately, falling in love with his sublime weirdness and heavy use of colour. I reached out to him hoping he'd be interested in making us something, and thankfully he was into the idea. His treatment gelled so well with the music and lyrics, i knew we were in good hands.

Glasgow is an odd but entirely successful base for this blast of sci-fi dystopia – was it always your intention to shoot there? Was the city's geography – or even weather! - an influence on the feel of the song?

Helen: That's weird, because i feel like Glasgow is the perfect base for a dystopian world. Bryan is based up here, as am i, so it was natural to film here. The shoot actually took place over the three hottest days this summer, so Glasgow and the outskirts are looking beautiful bathed in sunlight in the film. I think the sunny weather makes the visual even more creepy.

Daniel: For me, Bryan's film shows this banality of evil. That is amplified by the setting for those of whom it is familiar. If such a ghastly project existed now, in the UK, it would be managed by these kind of bored, dead-eyed, Serco employees. When I see something described as a dystopian future, it always strikes me that only those living in a very tiny bubble of privilege on this planet do not sense that we are already there.

There's a certain nihilism to the clip, do you feel this is balanced out by some lingering hope? What should we take away from such a potent visual message?

Daniel: It is heavy. I cried the first time I saw it. But it should be a reckoning. That in itself is hopeful.

How inter-connected are the themes on the new Ladytron album? Does 'The Island' act as a microcosm, or an outlier for the music you've created?

Helen: There are some definite themes that weave through, but it wasn't conceived like this. Only on listening back to the record, now that it is complete, did those themes become apparent. The Island is an emblem for the record, like singles always should be.


19 August 2018

Paper Mag interview (2018)

The second single teasing Ladytron's next album — the legendary Liverpool electronic act's first after a 7-year hiatus, slated for release in the first quarter of next year — debuts exclusively on PAPER today. Delivered in familiar Ladytron fashion, "The Island" feels like a nod to longtime fans who've been awaiting the group's return for so many years.

But like "The Animals," released in March, there's some subtle expansion of sound on this one. In fact, expansion is quite literal a description — vocalist and songwriter Helen Marnie tells us "The Island" intentionally affords space for crescendoing emotional effect.

The subject matter behind it certainly calls for it. In an interview with PAPER, Marnie explained how the song is both grim and hopeful — in part, a reflection of the push-and-pull of today's political and social climate.

What were you thinking in terms of sonic influences for the single?

We've been away for so long; it's been like seven years or eight years. [So] I wanted to write something that wouldn't scare people away, but also leaned on what Ladytron was good at and how we were before, but maybe introducing something a little bit different. I think "The Island" harks back to earlier Ladytron when we first started, right about 2002, 2003. I wanted it to be a bit more pop, but not pop in that cheesy sense of the word. That's why we've got high synths, arpeggiated synths, and things like that.

It's nice to hear something familiar, as someone who's been a fan for so long, but to hear hints of something new, too. It's not a huge departure, though.

No, I think that with "The Island" there's quite a bit of space, sonically. Whereas our last album I find a bit fuller. I think [the space can] build emotion.

Speaking of emotions, can you tell me more about the message? You referenced the disquiet that we all feel in a statement for this track. Can you elaborate on that?

If you read into the lyrics literally it's quite dark, I would say — quite bleak. But that's not really what I wanted to convey; that's not really how it is. It is a comment on all the social things that are going on right now, but I wanted to create a sense of disorientation, and maybe claustrophobia, which I think a lot of people are feeling right now. I think the lyrics are like juxtapositions. There's a lot of different things sitting together, but they're not necessarily agreeing with each other. I think everyone is feeling that disorientation and confusion. No one really knows what it is these days, and it's really hard to get the truth.

When you're talking about hitting the ground here, it feels very rock bottom. The lyrics mention sirens of the apocalypse.

Yeah, it's very much like that. Hopefully the only way we can go is up. It's just very trying times. But, you know, that's how things go. They go in cycles. Things do need to hit rock bottom in order for there to be resistance. I think that's basically the influence. Personally, it is personal as well, the lyrics. It's not just a social commentary. It's about me. But I don't really want to go into that.

I respect that. Can I ask, though, if it's personal for you specifically or is it in relation to the whole band?

Personal for me.

Okay. I wondered about the title, if the idea of the island itself is a metaphor.

Yes it is. [Laughs] I live in Scotland, so there's been a lot of things that have been happening here. I think that for the people that live in Scotland, we feel like we don't really have a say in situations. The UK is feeling quite small for me right now, and Scotland is obviously a part of the UK, but we're our own country, so I think it's also quite hard for us to accept certain things that are happening. So that's my reference to the island: We are this small place, and we don't really have a say sometimes. But equally, that's a bit political, and I don't want to go too political.

I can sense that you don't want to get too specific about politics. I respect that, but I do wonder where this is coming from...

Yeah, I think it's just unrest, really. And knowing that no matter how you act, how you vote, laws you pass, in the overall bigger picture, for Scotland it doesn't really make a difference to the outcome. That's the island. That's what I'm talking about. Just being this insular society that has a lot of control but is equally becoming more and more insular and small-minded.

Is there anything you'd like to mention about the forthcoming album?

Yeah. It's finished. It's being mastered now. We spent some time down in Southeast England recording it for about a month or so. I'm happy with how it's turned out. It took a while to get things right, but I think it's a good mix of Ladytron. I hope people will appreciate it. It's just exciting to finally have made it.

I'm definitely excited to hear it.

It's hard to know how people will react. But I like it. So that's all that matters. [Laughs]


29 March 2018

The Electricity Club interview (2018)

Named after a wonderfully eclectic song from the first Roxy Music album, appropriately it was Brian Eno who said that Ladytron were "the best of English pop music". Despite Eno's description, one of the most distinctive aspects of Ladytron is their diversity, with Bulgarian-born Mira Aroyo and Glaswegian Helen Marnie joining Liverpudlians Danny Hunt and Reuben Wu in Summer 1999.

With five internationally acclaimed albums in '604', 'Light & Magic', 'Witching Hour', 'Velocifero' and 'Gravity the Seducer' under their belt, Ladytron are now working on their sixth long player after a hiatus of 7 years. It will be released via Pledge Music, the crowdfunding platform which was used by Helen Marnie to support the recording of her debut solo offering 'Crystal World'.

The new Ladytron album has been launched with 'The Animals', a dark electronic rock number in the vein of 'High Rise', 'International Dateline' and 'Tomorrow' which also comes with a Vince Clarke remix. With all systems go in the Ladytron camp, Danny Hunt kindly took time out from the studio to chat to The Electricity Club about the new album, his favourite synths and his own career highlights.

When did the genesis for the first Ladytron album in 7 years begin? Was it a gradual process?

We knew we were going to do it eventually, but various things made it not come together as early as we imagined. Huge changes in our personal lives, and our locations – two of us moved across hemispheres. In mid-2016, we felt ready to move ahead and began writing and planning.

Was there any point where you personally thought there might not be another album?

That was never a possibility.

Helen did two solo albums, but what were the rest of you up to during the hiatus? You co-produced Helen's first solo offering?

Yes, I produced and co-wrote some of Helen's first one. Since then, I've worked with some other artists that I felt a creative connection with, for example last year I co-wrote and produced an EP 'Lua Vermelha' with a very special artist in Brazil called Lia Paris. I also produced Lush's comeback EP 'Blind Spot', which I loved doing. Other than that, film scores and some other things that'll see the light of day soon enough.

Reuben has been concentrating on his photography, he's built a big reputation with that.

Mira has been working a lot with documentaries which was always a love of hers. We're generally creative people, and were never solely focussed on one project.

The individual members all live in different parts of the world now, so in terms of writing, has there had to be a more remote approach by necessity?

As it always was, even with the first five records we never lived in the same city, or at times even country, there were only brief moments when more than two of us did. Eighty percent of the time we weren't living in the same place.

The method is the same regardless of distance; we work, collaborate remotely and then come together for a period to turn the work we've done individually and collaboratively into a record.

How would you describe the creative dynamic of Ladytron and how it has evolved over the years?

These days everyone is pretty much self-contained. Technology has changed enormously after all, when we began it was a different world in so many ways. And we were basically children playing around with brand new methods.

'The Animals' is the first single and appears to be a return to the harder, more intense sound of 'Witching Hour' and 'Velocifero'?

Perhaps, but it's still too new to judge.

Vince Clarke has remixed 'The Animals', how did he become involved and are you pleased with his quite different and more rigid interpretation?

I love it. I always wanted us to collaborate in some way with him. It came about when I remixed the ERASURE single last year.

After the textural atmospherics of 'Gravity the Seducer', is 'The Animals' representative of the new album's overall sound? If not, how would you describe it?

Well the album isn't finished, the songs are there but it has a long way to go. To me, it is difficult to describe beyond simply that it sounds very much like a Ladytron record.

How do you now look back on 'Gravity the Seducer'?

Very proud of it. It was intentionally more sedate, which was exactly what we wanted, needed at that time. Some of the tunes on it, such as 'White Gold' and 'Transparent Days', are amongst my favourite things we've done. I've had people whom I really respect tell me that they didn't get into any of our stuff until that record.

The way music is financed and consumed has changed considerably since 2011 with crowdfunding and streaming more prominent. What are your own thoughts on this?

I don't have strong feelings on any of this. I am rather traditionalist in this respect.

You've opted to market the new album via Pledge Music, had the band been drawn to it from Helen's positive experience of it?

In our case, it is an ideal way to make records independently.

Being on Pledge Music often involves providing fly-on-the-wall insights into the recording process and other benefits, like China Crisis offered an opportunity to see Liverpool FC match with a band member while Gary Numan sold his old gear. As a band who have generally not courted a personality based profile in the past, have you decided what types of updates you will do yet?

We don't know yet.

You're offering vinyl, CD and download versions of the new album, but also cassette! Have you got your head around why there's a resurgence in this format, what are your own memories of using cassettes?

I'm of the generation for whom the cassette was the format of choice, I never accepted that it went away.

Isn't there just a general longing for actual objects now that our digital lives can evaporate in a moment?

And is not just in the case of records, for example I now buy more actual books than I ever did. We need to leave the historians some physical record of our culture.

Have you added any more vintage synthesizers to your armoury for the new album or have you moved towards VSTs these days? Do you have a particular favourite synth?

We have all our old toys and a couple of new ones. I had to transport as much of my gear as I could halfway across the world to fit my studio out down here. Each time I returned home, I brought a few more things south with me. I love my Crumar Stratus, that and the SH-2 are my main instruments.

What do you think about these recreations like the Korg MS20 Mini, the Korg ARP Odyssey or the new Minimoog?

About 15 years ago, we begged Korg to make a new MS20. We insisted that if they were available, they'd become as ubiquitous in studios as a bass guitar.

So I'm all for this gear being available in a cheap, practical and reliable way. We sometimes used to burn through old analogue synths every couple of days on the road – rare gear we had collected over many years.

As Ladytron's guitarist, how do decide when it's best to integrate the instrument into proceedings?

I'm a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist whatever. To me, through a chain of effects, it's just another object that makes noise.

Are you self-producing the album or have you brought in an outsider for this?

We have people we trust and work with regularly. How we are going to approach this one is still being discussed.

Are you able to reveal any of your own personal highlights of the new album? What are your hopes and fears after 7 years away?

It's early days to talk about highlights as there are still tracks being worked on. All I'd say is that we are already very happy with how it is progressing.

Do Ladytron intend to tour the new album?

Yes, we will, but the most important thing for us is to make a new record. Once that is done we will think about everything else.

Which territories have generally been your strongest?

Besides the US, Canada, Spain and various countries in the EU, we always did well in South and Central America. But we've been all over. Australia. China. It is hard to say which is strongest because obviously everyone does more shows in the EU and North America, where we have always done well with our tours.

What's your proudest achievement as a member of Ladytron? Any particular songs, shows or tours?

Sydney Opera House for Brian Eno was special obviously. When something exceptional happens – like we played China when very few had, and in Colombia at a time when almost no artists would go there because of the civil war – those ones stick in the memory.

I'm simply proud that our work has reached people, that we've made five albums and we're making another.


28 March 2018

Into More interview (2018)

Over the last twenty years, few bands have been more pivotal in the development of electronic music than Ladytron. The Liverpudlian four-piece, founded in 1999, has consistently walked the line between critical and commercial success, attracting praise from the legendary Brian Eno and a string of high-profile collaborators.

Now, seven years after their most recent release, Gravity the Seducer, the band is back with a frenetic, haunting new single, "The Animals," as well as a PledgeMusic campaign to fund the creation of a new album. The project is still very much in its early stages, but demos have already been laid down and Jim Abbiss, the producer behind the band's seminal album Witching Hour, has been enlisted to work his magic once again.

Individually, the members of Ladytron have been hard at work on their own separate projects, but the announcement of a new album has sent a shockwave of excitement through the band's core fanbase; already, over 70% of the crowdfunding target has been met. So, we reached out to lead vocalist Helen Marnie to find out more about the upcoming project, the choice to crowdfund, and the band's ongoing determination to maintain full creative control.

Tell us a little about "The Animals" – why did this feel like the right song to come back with?

Seven years is a long time in the music world. So much has changed since we last toured our album Gravity The Seducer and, personally, I've changed, as has the rest of Ladytron. So really it was about choosing a song that was quintessentially Ladytron, but which also reflected that we've moved on and are ready to create again. We're bursting with ideas and itching to get new stuff out there, so "The Animals" is easing people in gently.

A PledgeMusic campaign has been launched for the album. Why did you decide to go down this route?

We'd been talking about doing a crowdfunding campaign for quite some time, so it was just a matter of finding the right platform for us, and PledgeMusic fitted the bill. I'd also had the experience of doing a Pledge campaign for my first solo record, Crystal World, so knew all the pros and cons from that. We like the control that we have doing it this way: we get to choose everything from PR to art to songs to formats. The only pressure is the pressure we put on ourselves.

What benefits are there to crowdfunding an album?

It means complete control. Although, I guess, Ladytron has never really been the type of band that was ever dictated to. However, it's the little things that sometimes make a difference, and we get to make the decisions on them, too. In the past, with record labels, we've experienced mistakes being made here and there, and they end up making quite an impact.

Why did you decide to reunite with producer Jim Abbiss for this new project?

Of all the albums we've made, making Witching Hour with Jim Abbiss really stands out, and I think it comes across on the record. It's a coherent, interesting body of work, and that, in part, is due to Jim. I can remember times making records where it wasn't all fun and games, but not with Witching Hour. I think, as people, we all just get along. Jim is super experienced and is full to the brim with ideas, and having that extra dimension is what matters. A fifth brain. He also knows how to push you without "pushing" you; like, how to get the best out of someone in the right way. We all agreed that he was the person we wanted to work with again.

You've worked with some huge names in the past. Are there any collaborators you're keen to get involved with this project?

Oh, there are numerous people we'd love to work with, but I think our new record needs to be about Ladytron and not who we're collaborating with. Having been out of the game for so long, I think it would be weird to come back with an album full of names that weren't ours.

You're already well on the way to meeting the album goal; how does it feel to have this fan support even after such a long hiatus?

As of today, we're at 73%, which is pretty fucking amazing. I can't deny it – it feels good! It feels good that people still have our back and haven't forgotten about us. We have a very loyal fanbase though, so I wouldn't expect any less from them.

Sonically, what can we expect from the new album?

It's difficult to say at this stage, because we're yet to go into the studio and record everything. However, I can say that all the material is there and that the demos are already sounding great – if the Pledge campaign goes according to plan, then we'll be going into the studio soon. That's when everything will come together and the record will take on a life of its own.

We've seen a glimpse of the new aesthetic in the PledgeMusic video. How important will visuals be to this campaign?

Visuals are so important. That is the way of the world right now, so, of course, we'll be really putting the work in and keeping things interesting. "The Animals" video, due for release soon, was shot in Brazil; it looks so beautiful.


26 October 2017

Maja Magazine interview (2009)

Ladytron: sensual synth

In the music industry, a fourth full-length album validates the staying power of any music group; thus have Liverpool, England-based electro pop band Ladytron, proved able to leave fans demanding more. As the band — Mira Aroyo, Helen Marnie, Reuben Wu and Daniel Hunt — prepares to release Velocifero this summer, they reflect on the gradual changes that have taken place since it all began in 1999.

"We started out a really long time ago; it kind of felt like we were kids when we started," laughs Mira, who was born in Bulgaria and holds a biology Ph.D from Oxford University. "We didn't have a clue it was going to go the way that it's gone. We didn't really have any big plans or ideas. It started off as a fun project and it basically turned into our lives. Musically it's just grown immensely."

After the foursome found their calling they were off and running with 2001's debut release, 604. It was with this synth-pop record that imitators began springing up, nevertheless leaving Ladytron to shine in a light all their own. Through vintage analogue equipment and hours of experimentation, Ladytron achieves their distinct sound.

"We just try and be ourselves," Reuben explains. "For us it's natural and instinctive to produce music the way we do. I expect that if I was in a different band I would find it very difficult to come up with the Ladytron sound. It's a magical combination of many things."

"We put things through keyboards and a lot of distortions and delays to the point where you can't really distinguish live drums from programmed drums or keyboards from guitars. I think what distinguishes us from a lot of live bands is that we do write things with an electronic means. We don't start writing songs by jamming out to the guitar and then converting them. It's always about sitting down and having these instruments around you," Mira adds.

After 604 came 2002's Light and Magic, followed by 2005's much-praised Witching Hour, with hit singles "Destroy Everything You Touch" and "Sugar." Between albums, Ladytron developed their live show, doing DJ sets and performances in what seemed to be a constant state of travel—touring Argentina, Brazil, North America (on Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers tour), and Europe (opening for Nine Inch Nails).

"The way that we are live really helps us grow musically," Mira said. "This whole touring experience is really getting to know each other more personally but also, more importantly, musically."

"When we started working on Light and Magic I suppose we'd become a proper band at that point," Reuben added. "Some people perceived the sound of our music as being a bit darker with slicker production techniques, and we went a stage further with Witching Hour. By that time we'd done a hell of a lot touring, and I think it was that critical point when we realized we were a different band from what we were when we started out."

Witching Hour has been described as Ladytron's best album – but with Velocifero following, it's apparent they intend only to get better. After being recorded in Paris, the new release includes collaborations with Vicarious Bliss and Alessandro Cortini of Nine Inch Nails. The innovation and emotion in this particular album radiates through songs like "Ghosts," "Black Cat" and "I'm Not Scared." Velocifero also marks the first release with the band's new label, Nettwerk.

"The new songs are really quite different from each other. It was hard for us to pick singles," Mira said. "It's a leap forward from Witching Hour. We were more interested in making different sounds, in getting different sounds from keyboards rather than just tweaking tracks after with effects. Rhythmically I think it's much more diverse and much more interesting."

"The new album is really exciting," Reuben said. "I think it's a stronger album; I think there are more songs on it with the potential to be people's favorites. Obviously the band has moved on and branched out in different directions, but at the same time there are a lot of songs which have a familiar sound that people know from the previous albums."

Now that the fourth album is complete, Mira and Reuben both say Ladytron is getting ready for the extensive tour they have scheduled throughout the summer that, so far, include Europe, Canada and the U.S. Mira said they're also beginning to talk already of another album following in quick succession with songs held back from Velocifero that will be "a bit weirder and more downtempo."

And how does Ladytron see itself when it comes to fitting into the current state of pop music?

"We kind of occupy a space on our own," Reuben explains. "I don't think there are any bands out there who are similar to us. I think we stand alone; we've been on the scene for a really long time now. I think we're in a really good position because we're seen as a band who would go out and do their own thing."

"From when we started it's a lot more diverse, people are using a lot more mixtures of sounds," Mira said. "I think that with Witching Hour we basically gained a lot of confidence because electronically it was just a lot thicker than previous albums. It seems like we're kind of on a train now, forging through."


18 July 2015

Virtual Festivals interview (2003)

Virtual Festivals: Ladytron have been playing an awful lot of festivals recently...

Helen Marnie: Yeah. The last couple of months we've been doing the European festivals like Norway, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Portugal. This is our first UK one this year.

How does Leeds compare?

They're all different. Like Spain for example. Spain's just a mad country anyway - it works differently! This is the third time we've done Reading/Leeds in a row but Reading yesterday was the best we've ever done so we're looking forward to Leeds. Our stage is really good this year. Last year we were put on in the dance tent and we didn't quite fit. Although it's dance-able and stuff, it's not dance music. It's pop and a bit of rock - not what people really want to see in that tent. It's much better this year now that we're on the Radio 1 stage.

What would be your fantasy festival line-up?

The line-up on our stage that I watched yesterday, Electric Six, that was just amazing. The crowd went mad. They were a good fun band. I love Interpol. I've also now seen the Polyphonic Spree! But on my perfect line-up, Prince would probably be there and then I'd have to have somebody like Joni Mitchell. I think that the line-up on the Radio 1 stage is very good this year.

You've had a lot of press this year. How has that affected the band?

I think that we've still got a long way to go but it's good that we have been doing a lot of festivals 'cos that's not our audience really. Like yesterday at Reading, on the front row, you could see a few people that knew you but the majority was just like people who had probably never heard of you. It's a good thing to do, to get more exposure. The last year's been really good because we've been touring America and everything seems to be going quite well.

Ladytron have been cited as fashion icons. How have you found that?

It's a bit weird because it's not what we set to do. Some fashonistas have latched onto the fact that we wear uniforms and things. That's not why we wore the uniform in the first place. It was a uniform so therefore it wasn't fashion but it's backfired a little bit!

Have you had any time to write any new material this year?

Touring is not the environment for us to make music. Although you have the ideas for things like that we haven't had the chance to put them down. Once all the festivals are done and the UK tour finishes we're going to go back in the studio, get everything down and just start again.

Are you anticipating a different direction for the new record?

Yeah, I think that this year's live show will influence what we do a lot 'cos our sound has progressed more with a live drummer and bass player on stage. It completely changes the way we are and it's made us all a lot more confident. It will affect the way we go in and record. I think it will rock a bit more than previous records.


17 July 2015

Q Magazine Special: The Story of Electro-pop (2005)

Phase Four


"We bumped into Tiga last year", explains Ladytron's songwriter Daniel Hunt, "and he said, Congratulations for escaping electroclash". While Montreal DJ Tiga has so far failed to follow-up his Top 30 cover of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night", Liverpool-based Ladytron have just completed their third album, due for release in early 2005.

Founding member Daniel Hunt started making electronic music after buying dilapidated synths for "next to nothing from this huge car boot sale right by the ventilation shaft of the Mersey tunnel. It was a bit like Barter Town in Mad Max".

In 1999, he joined forces with a fellow designer, a model and genetics student, namely Reuben Wu, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo, to record Ladytron's first single, "He Took Her to a Movie", on a 50 pounds budget.

Apart from mucking about half-broken machinery, Hunt was drawn to synthesizers because "not only are Depeche Mode one of my favourite bands, they seemed to offer a completely different view of how alternative music could be made".

Dressed in uniform black ("we wanted simplicity") they released 604, an album of quietly understated pop, in 2001, followed by the more ambitious Light & Magic a year and a half later. The latter contains the excellent singles "Seventeen" and "Evil", and is both more powerful and better designed - a concept that is close to their heart.

"It does feel as if the way the future was anticipated 30 years ago has actually happened", argues Hunt, pointing out the futuristic designs of iPods, digital cameras, mobile phones and so on. "It didn't look as if it would and then suddenly you look around and it kind of has".

Meanwhile, Ladytron's forward-looking style has not only survived electroclash and the financial meltdown of their label (they're now signed to Island), they even spent autumn of 2004 touring China in association with the British Council to promote 21st-century music.

Their new songs are described by Hunt as "still electronic but nastier. We've always been into Neu! and My Bloody Valentine and now we can be influenced by stuff like that. Before it would still sound like The Human League by the time we'd put the ideas through some ancient synth".


As Ladytron's Daniel Hunt explains, "there's a lot of stuff that's completely taboo, that you're not allowed to like. It's as if people are afraid of it. And if you're influenced by anything from that period, then they think it must be a joke, that you don't actually like it. But it also means that you're starting out with something fresh, that you're not using all the usual old reference points".

Scans source. I transcribed only the parts where Ladytron were mentioned.