Motion Music Festival / A day before setting off on a European tour earlier this month, Ladytron cofounder and DJ Reuben Wu talked with the Weekly via phone, speaking calmly and with his Scouser lilt. While it’s common for international citizens to look down on decidedly unworldly Americans, Wu and the band have an appreciation for the differences they notice in each place they tour. Wu said, “In North America, such a big, big, place, it’s so easy to just rent a car on your day off and see things.” And of course, there’s the food. “That’s the other thing about being on the road–it’s eating the good stuff. And eating bad stuff, as well,” Wu said.
But an overweight Ladytron just wouldn’t have the same ghostly appeal as they do in their impeccably dressed, nearly emaciated state. How does Wu enjoy life on the road but still stay in shape? “It’s very, very hard. I take a folding bike with me all the time and I can fit it in the back of the bus. I use that or run instead of taking a cab or anything,” he said.
Wu’s upcoming solo gig at Pipeline Cafe will allow him an actual vacation in the Islands. “It’s gonna be the highlight of my summer. I’ve never been before, so I’ve decided to extend my stay…I’d like to see the island where the observatory is. I’m really into nature. The more barren, the better,” he said. He even expressed a desire to “to work for a magazine like National Geographic or something. Photography and going out and exploring and researching.” That is, if he wasn’t already doing what he loves with fellow band members Daniel Hunt, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo in the technology-entrenched Ladytron.
With a background in industrial design, natural talent in illustration, as well as formal training in violin and piano, the multi-talented Wu continues to put his efforts into electronic music composition, even after 10 years with Ladytron, and even longer than that as a DJ. Of the band’s new album Velocifero, Wu said, “I think it’s the best album we’ve done so far…As a band, we’ve really kind of developed into a way of working…we’re working together in new ways and I think the songs are very, very diverse in this album [yet] it sticks together really coherently. There’s no kind of repetition, as in atmospheres and kind of feelings of songs. It was cool because we had a lot of songs to choose from, as well.”
Without a a trace of humor in his voice, Wu said that Ladytron’s other goals are not so much “to remix an artist that we really love. It’s to really write and produce for people. What we’re doing at the moment is pretty much up there, kind of my number one thing to do in my life, you know, to do music, which is doing this writing and producing for Christina Aguilera. It’s pretty much the pinnacle of what we’ve done so far. We’ve just been hard at work writing songs with her and producing the music…she’s a big fan of the band and she asked us last year to get involved.” Not-so-Dirrty fans of Aguilera may be able to expect the Ladytron-laced tracks by the end of the year.
Like athletes preparing for their sports performances, Wu answered a question about pre-performance rituals in his dry, calm, British humor. Slowly. He said, “I take all my clothes off and I crawl and crouch into a little ball and I say a little prayer to the god of weather. And then I pretend I’m a tree and I grow into a tree.”
But seriously, as with true musicians, Wu is always on the search for more equipment. Speaking of one recent technology toy highlight, Wu said, “We went to the Moog factory when we were in Asheville for the first time. I’ve actually got a Moog original Voyager, which is probably the nicest synth I’ve ever owned…There’s also the Moog guitar, which has been in development for about 20 years now. It’s unique because it has this function where the pick-ups actually vibrate the strings themselves, almost like an Ebow so you can just strum a chord, and then hold it and it’ll hold forever.”
While often classified as electro-rock or pop, Wu says that the band’s pieces are more like songs, rather than simply synth beats hobbled together. With the instruments, skill and precision to back up the careful but catchy songs, Ladytron may see another 10 years of international success and dance floor mayhem.
As to what to expect this Saturday during his DJ set, Wu said, “I try to find stuff that sounds a bit more interesting. I’m not a fan of trance or house music or techno or anything like that. So it’s kind of yeah, it’s kind of interesting. Interesting stuff. Haha, that’s a crap answer.” Maybe, but at least there should be no crap tracks during Wu’s set.