Ladytron are an electronic band formed in 1999 in Liverpool, England. The band consists of Helen Marnie (also known as Marnie; lead vocals, synths), Mira Aroyo (vocals, synths), Daniel Hunt (synths, guitar) and Reuben Wu (synths).
They’ve released six studio albums so far: 604 (2001), Light & Magic (2002), Witching Hour (2005), Velocifero (2008), Gravity the Seducer (2011) and Ladytron (2019). They also issued the live album Live at London Astoria 16.07.08 (2009), the compilation album Best of 00-10 (2011), and the EPs Miss Black and Her Friends (1999), Commodore Rock (2000), Mu-Tron EP (2000), Extended Play (2006), The Harmonium Sessions (2006), Ace of Hz EP (2011). Their sound is usually described as electropop mixed with new wave and shoegaze influences.
Liverpool-based producers and DJs Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu met in the 1990s. Hunt was the founder of the indie record label Invicta Hi-Fi and of a nightclub. Wu trained in Industrial Design at Sheffield Hallam University and graduated in 1997. He became an industrial designer at Team Consulting Limited until 2002.
Using the moniker Ladytron, taken from the song “Ladytron” by Roxy Music, Hunt and Wu recorded the debut single “He Took Her to a Movie” with the guest vocalist Lisa Eriksson (who later formed the band Techno Squirrels). “He Took Her to a Movie” was released in July 1999 and gained positive reviews.
In the summer of 1999, Hunt and Wu met Helen Marnie (born in 1978 in Glasgow, Scotland) and Mira Aroyo (born in 1977 in Sofia, Bulgaria). Marnie and Aroyo joined Ladytron as vocalists and keyboard players. Marnie studied music at the University of Liverpool where she received a Bachelor of Arts in pop music in 1999. Aroyo was a postgraduate research geneticist in the Oxford University’s Biochemistry department.
In December 1999, Ladytron issued the EP Miss Black and Her Friends in Japan only. It was followed in June 2000 by the EP Commodore Rock and in October 2000 by Mu-Tron EP. All the songs from these EPs, except “Miss Black” and “Olivetti Jerk”, were later included on their debut studio album. “He Took Her to a Movie”, Mu-Tron EP, “The Way That I Found You”, were all selected as NME “Single of the Week”.
In 6 February 2001, Ladytron released their critically acclaimed debut album, 604 on Emperor Norton (US). The album was also released in 26 March 2001 on Labels (Germany) and in 2 April 2001 on Invicta Hi-Fi (UK). It was re-released in 20 July 2004 on Emperor Norton (US) and in 14 January 2011 (Germany)/18 January 2011 (US)/24 January (UK) on Nettwerk.
604 has been written mostly by Daniel Hunt and co-produced by him and Lance Thomas. Three singles supported the album’s promotion: “He Took Her to a Movie”, “Playgirl”, and “The Way That I Found You”.
Also in 2001, Ladytron covered The Human League’ song “Open Your Heart” for the compilation album Reproductions: Songs of The Human League. Until 2004, the band wore uniforms on stage. Daniel Hunt stated in 2001 that their uniforms were inspired by the SF movie The Andromeda Strain. In an interview from 2002, Hunt also said that the meaning of 604 album title is the area code for British Columbia.
In 17 September 2002, Ladytron released their sophomore album Light & Magic at Emperor Norton (US) and Telstar (UK). The album was also released in 7 April 2003 at Warner Music (Germany) and in 21 June 2003 at Victor Entertainment (Japan). It was re-released in 20 July 2004 on Emperor Norton (US) and in 14 January 2011 (Germany)/18 January 2011 (US)/24 January 2011 (UK) on Nettwerk.
Light & Magic was co-produced by the band and Mickey Petralia in Los Angeles. The album featured a darker sound than their debut and spawned three underground hits, “Seventeen”, “Evil”, and “Blue Jeans”. They toured over a year to support this album.
In 7 October 2003, they issued the mix compilation Softcore Jukebox on Emperor Norton. The compilation includes songs of other artists selected by the band and also two of their own songs: the single remix of “Blue Jeans” renamed “Blue Jeans 2.0” and the cover “Oops Oh My” by Tweet. In 2004, they played a series of shows in China as part of an exhibition tour set up by the British Council.
In 3 October 2005, Ladytron released their third studio album Witching Hour on Island (UK). The album was also released in 4 October 2005 on Universal Music (Germany) and Rykodisc (US). It was re-released in 5 April 2007 on Major (Germany), in 5 November 2007 on So Sweet (UK), in 18 January 2011 (US)/24 January 2011 (UK) on Nettwerk.
Witching Hour was co-produced by the band and Jim Abbiss. The album featured live drums and guitars mixed with their trademark sound. This album was very well received by critics and fans. It was supported by the singles “Sugar” and “Destroy Everything You Touch”. The single “Destroy Everything You Touch” became the band’s signature song.
Their third album was followed in 2006 by Extended Play, a two-disc EP CD/DVD compilation that features exclusive unreleased remixes and UK B-sides, as well as a 35-minute bonus DVD that included a 27 minutes documentary titled Once Upon a Time in the East: Ladytron in China based on their short 2004 tour in China. In the same year Ladytron recorded The Harmonium Sessions, which contained four reworked songs from Witching Hour.
Without any real label support, Ladytron toured exhaustively over the next two years, on the strength of their cult following. They played in North America, Europe, and South America. They also opened for Nine Inch Nails in early 2007 at the request of Trent Reznor.
Along their career, Ladytron have produced remixes for many artists, including Dave Gahan, Goldfrapp, Placebo, Blondie, Bloc Party, Kings of Convenience, Gang of Four, She Wants Revenge, Soulwax, Nine Inch Nails, Simian, Indochine and Apoptygma Berzerk.
In 2 June 2008, the group issued on Nettwerk their fourth album, Velocifero. The album was recorded in Paris, with the band handling production duties with Alessandro Cortini (Modwheelmood, Nine Inch Nails, SONOIO) and Vicarious Bliss (Justice, DJ Mehdi). Their sound evolved to an even more organic sound and harsher beats. The band states that “velocifero” literally means “bringer of speed” and is also the name of a classic retro styled scooter. The album spawned three singles, “Ghosts”, “Runaway” and “Tomorrow”.
In 6 April 2009, Nettwerk issued the remix compilation Velocifero (Remixed & Rare). In the same year, the band self-released their first live album entitled Live at London Astoria 16.07.08. They also co-wrote and produced the songs “Birds of Prey” and “Little Dreamer” for Christina Aguilera. These songs featured on her 2010 album Bionic.
In 2009, Ladytron toured North America with The Faint (co-headline tour), and performed two special shows with Brian Eno at the Sydney Opera House in the summer. They also announced that they will be the opening act for Depeche Mode on few concerts in Eastern Europe, but these concerts were cancelled due to Dave Gahan’s illness.
The soundtrack of the video game FIFA 11 featured a new Ladytron song, “Ace of Hz”, which was released as digital single on 30 November 2010. In 11 January 2011, the band issued the digital EP Ace of Hz, which includes the album mix plus 5 remixes.
In 28 March 2011, Ladytron released the compilation Best of 00-10 on Nettwerk. It featured 17 tracks on standard edition and 33 tracks on deluxe edition (plus a 80 pages booklet). They also issued the remix compilation Best of Remixes and the iTunes video compilation Best of 00-10 Videos.
In 12 September 2011, they released the fifth studio album, Gravity the Seducer, on Nettwerk. The album was recorded in Kent’s countryside and it was produced by the band and Barny Barnicott (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Editors). Daniel Hunt said “Gravity the Seducer is more of a jump than the last album was, more ethereal and melodic, a touch more abstract in places than we’ve gone before, baroque ‘n’ roll”.
Gravity the Seducer has been preceded by the single “White Elephant”, issued on 17 May 2011. The band premiered the song “Ambulances”, in 16 June 2011. It was followed by the single “Mirage” in 8 August 2011.
On 20 December 2011, Nettwerk issued the remix compilations 604 (Remixed & Rare), Light & Magic (Remixed & Rare), Witching Hour (Remixed & Rare).
Using the stage name of Marnie, Helen Marnie started in 2012 a solo career. She self-released her debut solo album Crystal World on 11 June 2013. The album was produced in 2012 in Reykjavik, Iceland by her band mate Daniel Hunt in collaboration with the Icelandic musician Barði Jóhannsson.
There have been six main Ladytron tours: 604 tour (2001), Light & Magic tour (2002–2004), Witching Hour tour (2005–2007), Velocifero tour (2008–2009), Best of 00-10 tour (2011), and Gravity the Seducer tour (2011). During the years, they toured in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australia.
The band played at various music festivals like La Route du Rock 2001, Reading Festival 2001, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim 2001 and 2005, Coachella Festival 2003 and 2006, Hultsfred Festival 2003, Arvikafestivalen 2003 and 2006, Lowlands Festival 2003, Dot-to-Dot Festival 2005, Pukkelpop 2005, Exit Festival 2005, Creamfields 2007, Electric Picnic 2007, Bonnaroo Festival 2008, Ruisrock Festival 2009, Traffic Festival 2009, Standon Calling Festival 2009, Electrosonic Festival 2009, Ping Gu Valley Festival 2011, Donaufestival 2011, Selector Festival 2011, Hegyalja Festival 2011, Decibel Festival 2011, DeLuna Fest 2011, Zouk Festival 2011.
Since Light & Magic tour, Ladytron started to tour extensively and to add touring members to play live bass and drums. Previous touring members include Pop Levi (bass during Light & Magic tour), Andrea Goldsworthy (bass during Witching Hour tour), and Keith York (drums during Light & Magic tour and Witching Hour tour).
Bands to open for Ladytron on their tours include Simian, The Presets, Client, Phaser, CSS, Asobi Seksu, Mount Sims, Crocodiles, Franz Ferdinand, SONOIO, VHS or Beta and Geographer.
Ladytron have opened for other artists like Soulwax on their UK tour in 2001, Björk in 2003, and Goldfrapp in 2006. In early 2007, they opened for Nine Inch Nails on their European tour, at the invitation of Trent Reznor. In 2009, Ladytron and The Faint co-headlined a North American tour.