Ladytron: Handpicked by their hero
Mon 25th May, 2009 Featuresin
So imagine this: You’re in a band, one of the UK’s most critically acclaimed and infallibly hip electronica bands to be fair. You’re just going about your business, touring your latest record, when, out of the blue, you get a phone call from your agent telling you your all-time musical hero has hand-picked you to appear in a musical festival he’s curating. On top of this, said appearance is to take place in one of the world’s iconic buildings, the Sydney Opera House.
That was the situation facing Ladytron, who took their name from a Roxy Music song which appeared during Eno’s brief tenure in that group. The group’s keyboard player Daniel Hunt was understandably thrilled by the news, which means they are part of the inaugural Luminous festival which takes place in Sydney this May and June. “A couple of [Eno’s] solo albums are probably in most of our top fives. From my point of view Another Green World is one of my favourite albums of all time, so it means a lot to us on a lot of levels.”
Currently on tour with dance punks The Faint, Hunt is calling from Asheville, North Carolina – which, he notes with enthusiasm, is the location of the original factory that produces the famous Moog synthesisers. You’d imagine this is something that would appeal more to Ladytron, with their sleek, icy electronic aesthetic, more than their more rock-inclined tour-mates. Still, it’s been a successful pairing. Hunt says The Faint is actually the most similar band they’ve been on the road with. The group has generally made left-field choices for their touring partners, such as CSS, who, Hunt explains were a revelation to audiences unfamiliar with their then-unreleased breakthrough album.
An even more unlikely Ladytron associate is Christina Aguilera, who the band have been collaborating with on her upcoming album. While the initial approach from Aguilera’s people came as “a shock”, it soon became clear the hugely successful pop star was not merely trying to cash in on Ladytron’s indie cool, but was genuinely interested in their back catalogue.
“She was really specific about what elements of our work she wanted to try and harness,” Hunt says. “It wasn’t just the singles or anything. It was specific album tracks and specific sonic layers and things like that.” Four or five songs have already been completed. Hunt describes them as a hybrid between her previous work and Ladytron’s, and the latter have enjoyed the process so much that further such collaborations may well be on the cards.
In addition to these new ventures, the four members of Ladytron regularly return to their roots by playing DJ sets. It’s something they all did before forming the group and, incidentally, how Hunt met bandmate Rueben Wu. While the former prefers playing “dive-y little parties where you can play whatever you want”, Wu and co-vocalist Mira Aroyo are more often found at major dance parties.
Either way, it’s a good diversion for the group when they’re on tour. They are keen to avoid what they see as the pitfalls of writing while on the move, preferring to regroup after they return home with something apart from life on the road to write about.
Getting the four members together may seem harder now that Hunt has moved to Milan, but he says the logistics of the move have yet to be an issue. “I can get to London more cheaply and more quickly by plane from Milan than I can by train from Liverpool, which I used to do before, so it’s really not a problem.”
It’s also been a positive lifestyle change, allowing Hunt to escape what he saw as an increasingly aggressive mentality in England. “It’s got a lot of things going for it and a lot of good people, but it wasn’t for me,” he muses of his homeland. “It’s difficult to have a comfortable lifestyle there, in the city, because there’s trouble around the corner all the time… Even in places around the world that people live in and consider to be rough, it’s just not the same as the absolutely random violence in Britain.”
While considered expensive and somewhat unlovable by many Italians, Hunt couldn’t happier with his adopted homeland and its more laidback attitude. “When people go out [in Milan] they want to enjoy themselves, rather than requiring some kind of physical interaction… Anyway, that’s my rant over [laughs]. I don’t think the average Australian needs any encouragement to have a downer on Britain, so I won’t encourage it!”
Ladytron visit Australia in June for the Luminous Festival in Sydney, plus shows in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Wed Jun 3rd – Sydney Opera House, Sydney
Fri Jun 5th – Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne
Sun Jun 7th – Hi Fi Bar, Brisbane