By Rose Callaghan
After a chance meeting with a girl that turned out to be Brian Eno’s daughter in Oxford, England, Ladytron are about to fly to Australia to play the Luminuous festival at the Sydney Opera House, curated by Mr. Eno himself. Dialing in from North Carolina, Ladytron DJ and producer Rueben Wu talks about coming to Australia, made up bios, working with Christina Aguilera, fighting labels and funnily enough gets a bit upset when I mention they might have err, sucked, last time they were here.
Coincidentally, Ladytron actually take their name from a song by Roxy Music, Brian Eno’s former band, so it’s not surprising they are pretty chuffed to be invited to play his festival. “[This girl] ended up introducing herself as Brian Eno’s daughter. She said she’d got her Dad into us so that was quite funny and then a few days later we got a call asking us if we’d play Brian’s festival in Sydney.”
The four members of Ladytron have been together since mid 1998. “You kind of develop the way that you work together… I think with us every album has been different. The way we work together has evolved, we’re now very collaborative and very comfortable.”
The fabled story of how they met, supposedly on a boat in Bulgaria, is a lot more exotic than reality. Rueben laughs guiltily, “Actually that’s just a myth. We just constructed that.” In reality Reuben and fellow Ladyton DJ Daniel Hunt met spinning tracks in seedy clubs. Singers Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo, came later. Since then they’ve released four studio albums, including the most recent Velocifero and introduced the world to club favourites like ‘Seventeen’, ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ and ‘Playgirl’.
They’re widely regarded as one of the forefathers of the electroclash movement that formed in the early 2000’s, which fused electro and new-wave and gave way to the modern electro movement. This is something they are keen to shake.
“We’ve been fighting that pigeonhole since 2001.”
Electroclash is also a movement that is seen as having strong links to the fashion world and Ladytron are also seen as a “fashion band”. Again, this isn’t something they agree with. “We’re probably as into fashion as the next band…we’ve just been embraced by the fashion community.” Doesn’t the song Seventeen reference fashion though? “Does it?” he responds coyly.
Ladytron have been well known for avoiding pinning any kind of meaning to that particular song, despite it’s seemingly obvious fashion references (“They only want you when you’re seventeen, When you’re twenty-one, You’re no fun, They take a polaroid and let you go, Say they’ll let you know…”). “You’ll have to figure it out,” he giggles. “I think some things are better left to the music lover. It’s the same with film. You don’t say what happens at the end of The Italian Job.”
As far as their music is concerned, Ladytron aren’t exactly Top 40 radio fodder, yet they have been the subject of a lot of coverage in mainstream press thanks to their supposed involvement in the upcoming album of one Christina Aguilera.
“This is true,” admits Reuben, who says Christina got in contact with them a year ago and told them she was “really into” their music and would they like to work with her. “We were like ‘err yep.’ It was a secret for quite a while at home and until all of a sudden I got an email from a friend going ‘oh my god you’re working with Christina Aguilera!’ and it was everywhere. We were just like ‘oh my god, what have I told someone when I was drunk’, but it turned out it was actually an interview that she had done with Billboard.”
After going over to meet Christina and get to know her, they’ve recently started working on tracks. “It sounds like Ladytron with Christina Aguilera on vocals…I think it’ll be a really cool record.”
Ladytron claim they’re quite the hit live.
“We’ve never been heckled once in our career. If anything the only thing that’s been thrown onstage is bras,” Reuben claims proudly, despite later admitting that the girls in the band have been the main targets of errant lingerie. Which brings me to the last question of my interview, and may I add that everything has been going swimmingly up until this point. Reuben and I have been cracking jokes and having a grand old time. Upon Ladytron’s last voyage to Australia, there was quite a resounding response of disappointment from local music fans. “No interaction whatsoever and the band seemed completely BORED!” exclaimed one forum user. “The most disappointing show I’ve been to in over 2 years!” shouted another. Note to any aspiring streetpress writers or journalists, if you want to hang with the band, maybe grab a beer when they’re in town for the show or even become Twitter friends or whatever the modern day equivalent of pen pals is, perhaps don’t tell them that people thought they were a bit shit last time they were in town.
“There was a bit of criticism about you guys playing live last time you were here, was there a reason behind that?”
“Err, I don’t know what the criticism was.”
“Ummmmm, just that you were boring…”
At this point our relationship reverts back to that of journalist and interview subject, with me cast as the evil “MEDIA”. There is a long pause.
“What do you think about when people criticize you playing live – does that hurt?
“It does. Well…it just does” he says miserably, as though I had just put his favourite childhood toy through a paper shredder in front of him. “It’s OK” he says diplomatically, when I say it seems like he’s upset.
I might feel like a bad person at this point, but let’s hope Ladytron kick out the jams during their upcoming Australian trip. I’ll pack a spare bra just in case.
When: June 3
Where: Sydney Opera House