Interview: Ladytron's Helen Marnie
Hitting the ten year mark and still sounding innovative and forward thinking is no small achievement in the electro pop world. Whilst many of their contemporaries faded from sight or became niche concerns, Ladytron spent the last decade channelling their underground sound into wider exposure on their own dime.
With that period crystallized in their recent Best Of, the Liverpool-based quartet have put a line underneath their past. With fifth album Gravity the Seducer promising a new direction, it seemed a good time to check in with singer Helen Marnie.
Congratulations on reaching your tenth birthday as Ladytron. Do you feel like veterans?
I wouldn't say we feel like 'veterans', more like a bunch of kids trying to figure out what works for us. We've learnt a lot over the years though and I think this has attributed to our longevity. We've been very lucky really. Luck, hard work and hard touring have made us the Ladytron we are today.
What made you want to take stock of your first decade with the recent Best Of album?
After ten years it felt like we had the right to put out a package that encapsulated us. [We wanted] a brief history of the ‘Tron, so any newcomer could pick up the album and know exactly where we came from, and where we’re going.
Can you remember there being a point where everything clicked into place and you knew Ladytron were going to have legs?
I'd say the turning point was when we all left our 'proper' jobs. When I was younger I was more into risks like that, so it wasn't a big deal. Witching Hour was probably the album that changed us. It was like a coming of age, we were all writing, coming up with ideas, and I think it presents like that. It was received well and because of that, a massive whirlwind of touring followed. Looking back it was kind of nuts!
Your electroclash sound, if you will, is considered fair game for pop music these days. Does this feel vindicating or just depressing?
Neither really. The mainstream always catches on soon enough, so no surprises really.
Are you able to see a more genuine influence in anyone popping up these days?
It's weird to name people that may or may not be influenced by you. Who knows where peoples’ inspiration comes from? I've enjoyed the last two records of both MGMT and Yeasayer. I think they're flying the flag for electro music with heart.
Is it difficult to remain 'forward-thinking' after four albums?
What's difficult is deciding which tracks make it on the album as we always have too much material. With Gravity The Seducer our approach was pretty easy. We'd all been writing, plus we'd had over a year off from touring which really made a difference and cleared our heads. We were all excited to just get back in the studio and hear the new tracks coming together.
It was recorded, I’m faithfully told, in the English countryside. This seems rather incongruous to the Ladytron aesthetic. Can we expect something of a curveball in September?
It sure was, in Kent, the Garden of England. It was great. In-between takes I could go outside and feed the horses in the field. I think people will be surprised by Gravity. It isn't like our other albums. It sounds warm, lush, full of strings, organs and bells. It won't please everyone, you never can, but we're all pretty happy with it.
You originally lived in Glasgow. Will your gig at the Arches be something of a homecoming and how are Scottish audiences in general?
I love coming home to Scotland. I'm hoping to move back permanently. Like they say 'you can take the girl out of Scotland, but you can't take Scotland out of the girl'. The gigs have always been great north of the border. Glasgow audiences always show us a good time. Here's to June 9th!