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A Sit Down With DJ Ladytron

18:46 Feb/23/2018


Over the past ten years, Ladytron (Helen Marine, lead vocals and synthesizers; Mira Aroyo, vocals and synthesizers; Daniel Hunt, synthesizers, electric guitar, vocals; and Reuben Wu, synthesizers) has been busy: touring, writing songs for Christina Aguilera, DJing, remixing, and producing music for video game and film soundtracks. And it’s no wonder these indie darlings are in such high demand: Ladytron pushes sonic boundaries and is known for a largely unclassifiable sound that has been called everything from New Wave to electro-dance-pop.

"When we started out the term ‘Social Media’ didn’t exist and downloading music was impossible."



 
What do you think of the current state of modern music? I like the way that Ladytron music pushes forth for new and exciting sounds! What do you think about where you are heading to in the new scene?

I'm really enjoying a few bands at the moment, for example Yeasayer and their album Odd Blood and Phoenix and their album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Also really liking USA Boys by Health at the moment and have been listening to the Neon Indian album for a good few months now. The scene is generally the same, most of the music people listen to is generally mediocre with a few interesting bands and artists creating cool stuff on the sidelines and getting attention over the internet and independent media.

Live, LADYTRON have a comparatively conventional band set up with guitars, bass and drums alongside the vintage synths. Do you think that ever surprises people who come to see you for the first time?

I think people are still more surprised by the amount of synths we have on stage. On the other hand, our records are probably a bit more clinical and cleaner than when we play them live. We don’t try to completely recreate them as that would be impossible because we cannot reproduce all the sounds that we recorded. Instead we go for capturing the essence and the vibe of them and making them work on stage. It’s a different approach.

You've produced music for The Sims and for a FIFA game...do you think that dilutes what you do as a band or it just another channel to get your music 'out there'?

No different to a film or TV show. Didn't produce music specifically, nothing unusual or particularly noteworthy.

What’s your setup for your DJ tours?

Very simple. I just use CDJs. I enjoy DJing and having a drink while I DJ, and if I drop a beer on the laptop, that’s the end. But CDs, they’re kind of disposable.

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

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

How did your parents feel about you wanting to take up a career in music?

Naturally they were a bit scared and sceptical at first, but they knew it made me happy and that we were taking it seriously so they ended up being supportive.

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

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

Are there there any current bands that are influencing your sound or that you're excited by?

To be honest I’m not sure I remember listing any influences explicitly, certainly not for a long time. However I do remember explaining which assumed influences were actually inaccurate. In general, normal listeners, rather than music geeks, have almost universal knowledge of back-catalogue nowadays. I find that I rarely tell anybody about a record, it is assumed that everybody is aware. But for a band that has been active this long to be overtly influenced by something totally current seems perverse, as you're already on your own journey, our records have been substantially different anyway. You can always be influenced by a change of context, or a change in audience however.

Is there a song you wish was Ladytron’s but isn’t?

All those songs, we’ve covered already, or have used them to march onstage to.

What do you like to see in a crowd?

I just want people to dance. I can see that while we’re performing with the band and Helen and Mira are at the front, they have to have their on stage characters. But DJing is just a bloke playing music and it’s nice to see people dance and not worry about who’s playing the music. I like to be down in a corner, where I can be as close to the crowd as possible.
With all of the touring that Ladytron is doing is there a favourite place that the band likes to play? Also what would we expect to hear in one of your own DJ sets these days? I know that each band member likes to DJ & play gigs at various venues around the globe.


We love playing cities like New York and Los Angeles because it's so familiar and full of our friends, but I really love playing places we've never been before. Last year we got to play a show at the Sydney Opera House which was pretty special. I'd really like to play more countries in South East Asia and South America. Visiting NZ again would be great too, I'd love to explore the North Island.

One interesting thing about Ladytron is the almost orchestral use of layering.

Yeah, that’s important to us. One thing that we’re conscious of is that a lot of music now is created and mixed for laptop speakers. And that’s fine, but after a while your ears don’t lie to you, and some records only have a shelf life of a few weeks. Sounding good on laptop speakers is fine, but we’re very old-school in that regard, very traditional. We like albums, we like records that are mixed to last forever. Gravity the Seducer, more than any of the records we’ve done before, is one for headphones.

https://soundcloud.com/nettwerkmusicgroup/ladytron-destroy-everything



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