23 November 2017

Marnie released the single "G.I.R.L.S"

The single "G.I.R.L.S" (taken from the excellent album Stange Words and Weird Wars) is available on 7" limited white and black vinyl at her Bandcamp page. There are just 150 copies printed.

Track listing:
Side A: G.I.R.L.S
Side B: Lost Maps (HQFU remix)

02 November 2017

Marnie - Lost Maps Remixes

In 27 October, Helen Marnie released a 5-tracks EP with remixes of "Lost Maps", one of the highlights of her excellent second solo album, Strange Words and Weird Wars. You can buy it from her Bandcamp page.

1. Lost Maps (HQFU Remix) – 03:27
2. Lost Maps (-La Roc- Remix) – 03:57
3. Lost Maps (John Baillie Jnr Baby Diego Remix) – 05:23
4. Lost Maps (John Baillie Jnr Baby Diego Remix Dub) – 05:23
5. Lost Maps (John Baillie Jnr Baby Diego Remix Radio Edit) – 02:58

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."


15 October 2017

Chevette - We Can Dance Again

Before Ladytron, Daniel Hunt had a project called Chevette and released a couple of singles in 1997: "Everything Changes at 6" and "We Can Dance Again". The song "Ladybird" is from that time. They got a little exposure when the famous DJ John Peel played "We Can Dance Again" on the radio. By the way, this song is a Pulp cover.

02 September 2017

Fred Perry interview (2017)


Where are you from?
Glasgow, Scotland.

What do you do?

Describe your style in three words?
Prudish with ruffles.

You can make a record with anyone from history who would it be and why?
Michael Jackson, because I was somewhat obsessed and amazed by him. When I was a kid my next-door neighbours swore he was a robot. I kind of believed them.

What British music icons inspire your sound today?
My other band, Ladytron.

You can spend an hour with anyone from history?
I like Diva's, so this is a hard choice. But perhaps Maria Callas. She was opera's controversial star, unique in her singing style, beautiful, and scandalous. I reckon it would make for a good chat.

If you could share the bill with any British band in history?
I've been lucky enough to share bills with a lot of brilliant bands already, but probably Broadcast. Their record 'The Noise Made By People' was a constant for me at university and their lead singer left this world far too soon.

What music did you listen to growing up?
I listened to pop and rock along the lines of Madonna, Guns N Roses, Prince, and ABBA.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
'Joe Le Taxi' by Vanessa Paradis. I taped if off the chart show on the radio and used to prance around my room imagining I was a little French pixie like VP.

One record you would keep forever?
'Some Velvet Morning' by Nancy & Lee. I was introduced to this album towards the end of my university course, and I guess it was a game changer. I loved how the voices worked together.

A song from your favourite album?
'Go Your Own Way' by Fleetwood Mac. It’s so easy to just lose yourself in this song and believe you’re capable of anything.

A song you wish you had written?
'Video Games' by Lana Del Rey. It’s so simple, it’s brilliant.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Slight Return' by The Bluetones. When I was 17 I discovered the Bluetones. When you find something yourself at that age, it feels like you own them. I got the bus from Aberfoyle in Stirling, to Paris with a friend, just to see them. It was my 18th birthday present.

What was the last piece of music you bought?
'Naive to the Bone' by Marie Davidson.

A song lyric that inspires you?
"We don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time." Jermaine Stewart.

Is there a song you like that people wouldn't expect?
I'm not sure what people expect really because the music I've made or been a part of has been quite diverse. 'Maneater' by Nelly Furtado.

Best love song of all time?
'Tiny Dancer' by Elton John.

Best song to turn up loud?
'Enjoy the Silence' by Depeche Mode.

Best song to bring people together?
'You Got the Love' by The Source & Candi Staton.

4 songs you can’t stop listening to right now?

'Body' by Bossy Love
They are one of the best live bands in Glasgow right now and keep putting out tracks that are great fun.

'Familiar' by Agnes Obel
This song is beautiful and I was blissfully unaware that it was not a duet. Only later did I realise she has manipulated her own voice to create a deeper, male-like vocal.

'Stupid Face' by Haley Bonar
I’ve had on repeat in my car for months. I find Haley’s voice so soothing against the indie guitar sound.

'Dust & Dirt' by HQFU
I happen to be friends with HQFU (Sarah J Stanley) and she also plays with my band, however, I am not biased. She makes brilliant electronic music and I love the juxtaposition of the music and her sad, soft, voice which sounds like Tracey Thorn's sister.


05 June 2017

Herald Scotland interview (2017)

For Helen Marnie's new album, Strange Words and Weird Wars, let's start not at the beginning or the end but firmly in the middle. Halfway through the Ladytron vocalist's sophomore solo release is A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Although not inspired by the 2014 Iranian vampire film of the same name, there's a shared sense of horror.

"It's a horrible song, about a nasty and harrowing experience," says Marnie, sitting in the far brighter surroundings of a Glasgow city centre coffee shop.

"It depicts a really dark scene of a girl being alone at night. It was one of those experiences where you think that you could have died, and what would have happened if you'd made a different decision. It's a creepy feeling, where you are lucky enough to be able to tell the story and write these lyrics, but at the same time even thinking about it makes your skin crawl.

"It was something that I think needed to get out there. I thought ‘this makes my skin crawl – that's perfect writing material'."

The track is certainly a jarring piece of menacing, noisy synth pop but that isn't to say this is a dark, brooding record. Instead it is filled to the brim with pop music, from the Prince-inspired Electric Youth to the surging Bloom and throbbing electro of Lost Maps. In short, it suggests a woman who has more confidence and a better understanding of what music she is wanting to make.

"Crystal World was quite soft, and I think it felt introspective, very personal and emotional," she says.

"I'd kind of had it with that. I think the album was great but I had to do something different. So it was a case of working with [producer] Jonny Scott on beats. I wanted something harder, that you could feel more, something more uptempo and danceable.

"When you use the word 'pop' people frown, as if ‘that's rubbish', but if people have a problem with that then they can get over themselves because there's so much great pop out there – Prince and Bowie were pop at heart."

It is also pop music that has an emotional core. The record has a couple of recurring themes throughout, linked to getting older and reflecting on life, and the changes within it.

"I think the two big themes on there are love and mortality," she says.

"There's love affairs and things that don't work out, and obviously mortality comes into the record on a few occasions. I guess that relates to love as well. It's not just those two themes, there's a bit of harking back to lost friendships, when you don't really know why they were broken.

"You become aware of your own mortality and that of those around you, and that plays a part in what you write about, even if it's morbid."

Perhaps the album's confidence suggests that Marnie herself is more comfortable these days too. Her first solo record came not long after she had moved back to Scotland, following close to two decades in England, first in Liverpool and then London.

After a year or so living in Govanhill, she's now been settled in Pollokshields for the past few years.

"I was in London for a long time but I always knew I didn't want to end up in London. I'd planned to be there for a couple of years, and then suddenly realised I'd been there 11 years, and it was just too much.

"I really like Pollokshields as an area, because there's all these places opening up, bars and cafes and that. It's like a wee hub. I don't really think Glasgow has changed that much over the years to me – even somewhere like the Barras, it's now got things like the BAAD design centre, but that whole area still hasn't really changed in forever."

Things staying the same isn't always a good thing, of course. Despite a growing upsurge in women in the music industry, Marnie is still finding that many tired old attitudes won't shift.

"You still get people, and not just men but women can do this too, where they see a man in the band and automatically go to them, and act like they're in charge. You'll be like ‘err, it's me you need to speak to here. Why on earth would you think that the man in the band is in charge – this is my band, so speak to me'.

"I guess people need to change their ways and really think a little outside the box. The more women that get involved in any position in music can encourage others to get involved, and they can relate to them."

That is a depressing state of affairs, considering the length of time Marnie has been making music. It was when she was living in Liverpool that she joined Ladytron, the futuristic synth-pop band ahead of their time, given the dominance of synths in the charts these days.

"Chart music is just full of it, and you can't get away from synths there now. I feel like, on the other hand, guitar music is now having a comeback with all the indie bands – there's a lot of girls with guitars in bands it feels like, and that's what is getting played a lot on 6 Music rather than electronic music.

"Electronic music as alternative music has changed quite a bit in the last few years because the charts have taken it on so much. I guess people's technical abilities to produce music have changed too, so these mass-produced chart records aren't that organic, it's more soft synths."

Despite all the earlier talk of broken friendships and facing up to mortality, Marnie herself seems to have plenty of that pop spirit in her. She's confident about Strange Words and Weird Wars and in an upbeat mood, even when the biscuit she's eating takes an impressive dive into her coffee at one point. Despite the record's lyrical themes, is she still an optimist, a romantic?

"I'm a romantic at heart," she says.

"I'm a Pisces so I'm a total dreamer and I had my head in the clouds when I was younger. I'm more realistic now but I was very carefree in my twenties and didn't think about repercussions. I just took risks.

"Then people start to get a bit more responsible, although I'm still not that realistic in how I think. I'm still a bit silly and that's the dreamer in me."

Let's stick with dreaming to finish things on, then. What does Helen Marnie dream of for Strange Words and Weird Wars?

"World domination is still there," she laughs.

"The whole thing about making music is that you hope people will listen to it. I feel I've made a great album and I want as many people to listen to it as possible. I don't want to be Beyonce or anything like that, but if I can get the music out there to as many people as possible then I'd be happy. Why else would you make music?"


All "Strange Words and Weird Wars" lyrics added

Visit Marnie's lyrics page to read all the new lyrics. Plus the older ones.