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
Where are you from?
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.
'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
"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?"
02 June 2017
25 May 2017
2. Alphabet Block
3. Lost Maps
5. The Hunter
7. Heartbreak Kid
8. Electric Youth
Update: better quality version. Download the session again if you previously got the previous lower quality version.
Tag: audio files
19 May 2017
Listen to it here.