Scotland Week: Helen Marnie of Ladytron

"When I was living in Liverpool and then in London I always felt like a foreigner-like people thought I was some kind of novelty." - Helen Marnie

Sep 06, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


We have a special theme on Under the Radar's website this week which we're simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we will be posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. For some of the Scotland Week Q&As we emailed out the same set of Scottish related questions to various different musicians from the country.

For this interview we talk to Helen Marnie, lead vocalist for Ladytron. The band may have formed in Liverpool in 1999, but Marnie was born in Glasgow, where she grew up before going to the University of Liverpool to study music. Once there she met Liverpool producers/DJs Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu. Bulgarian co-vocalist Mira Aroyo then joined them to form Ladytron, named after the Roxy Music song. The quartet incorporated shoegaze and New Wave influences into their electro-pop sound. A series of well-received singles and EPs led up to 2001's debut album, 604, powered by the ultra-catchy single "Playgirl." With 2002's follow-up album, Light & Magic, they successfully avoided getting lumped in with the electroclash fad, a term they wisely rejected. 2005's third album, Witching Hour, was their most expansive and critically acclaimed full-length yet. 2008's Velocifero and 2011's Gravity the Seducer kept the band going strong. In 2013 Marnie released her debut solo album, Crystal World, which was recorded in Iceland, co-produced by bandmate Daniel Hunt, funded by a PledgeMusic campaign, and released simply under her last name. She currently lives back in Scotland.

Read on as Marnie discusses her favorite Scottish albums, bands, and films, as well as her thoughts on the Scottish Independence Referendum, in which in a few weeks the people of Scotland get to vote on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and have Scotland become its own country.

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

I have been a Yes supporter from the start. I don't necessarily see it as nationalism, that's not what this is about. It's about having control over your country's affairs and not being tied to a system that frankly does not work for Scotland, and hasn't worked for a long, long time. I have faith that we are a talented enough lot to be able to go it alone. 

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

I hope that independence brings more investment for the arts, rather than cuts which are happening at present. I want us to be international in our outlook, and being a part of Europe will benefit Scotland. At the moment, it looks like the U.K. is trying to make an exit. Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, has always had a thriving music scene, so I don't see that changing. People are determined enough to go it alone and start creating music. If anything, independence will only inspire musicians more. I haven't met one artist/musician who is a no voter.

What is your favorite album by another Scottish artist and why?

There are lots of amazing Scottish artists, but at the moment I'm really enjoying Honeyblood's new album. I saw them in Glasgow last year and they were raw and fun, and I just knew they were going to take off. I love that it's just the two of them and they manage to create such a full sound. 

Which Scottish musician/band most inspired you to start playing music?

I don't think any particular band got me into making or playing music. I started playing classical piano at quite a young age and worked hard at it for a long time. At university though, like a lot of people, I got into Belle and Sebastian. 

Who is your favorite new Scottish band or solo artist?

A few months ago I went to see another female duo called Bdy_Prts. They had great melodies and beats. They're working on their debut album at present. The gig was great. Good on stage banter. 

What is your favorite film that takes place in Scotland?

I saw Under the Skin this year and I absolutely LOVED IT! It was beautifully shot, and really captured the grittiness of Glasgow. The score was pretty amazing too. 

What do you most love about Scotland and being Scottish and what do you most hate about Scotland and being Scottish?

I am very proud to be Scottish. I love Scotland to bits. Even though we are part of the U.K. at present, when I was living in Liverpool and then in London I always felt like a foreignerlike people thought I was some kind of novelty. I guess it's because we are such a small nation. I don't hate anything about Scotland or its people, but what I have found since living here again is that people often think they're not quite good enough. Which is not the case. I guess that sometimes happens when you have been ruled from afar, by an elite that don't really care about Scotland or it's people.

www.helenmarnie.com

www.ladytron.com

 

 

 

 

 

 



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