Lady and the DJ
Maddie Gressel discovers that Ladytron keyboardist Reuben Wu spins a pretty mean set of electronic tunes
Reuben Wu knows a thing or two about selling records. As the co-founder and keyboardist for a wee electro-pop outfit known as Ladytron, he’s done just that and then some. But after a dozen years bringing the ‘tron sound around the globe, the band is taking a break, giving Wu a chance to explore the hobby that first brought him to the world of electronic music – DJing.
“I was doing DJ sets long before I joined the band,” says Wu, who started spinning shortly after discovering the world of electronic tunes at the age of 17. “I used to play violin but I didn’t really enjoy it – it wasn’t creative enough.”
Lucky for Wu, DJing kept his creative juices flowing long enough to meet fellow DJ Daniel Hunt. He approached Wu about joining a band as keyboardist, and it was only then that Wu even considered creating his own music. “We were DJing together and then we just sort of decided to form a band,” Wu says. “That’s when I thought ‘yeah, okay, this is something different. I can do this’.”
The two recruited Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie and Ladytron was born, just at the very moment when synth-pop and electronic pop were beginning to enjoy a slightly nostalgic renaissance. Ladytron were Britain’s newest cool kids on the block. But in 2004, they suddenly grew up, surprising and delighting fans and critics alike with the darker, richer and more affecting sound of their third album Witching Hour.
For Wu, who’s DJed in China before, the sounds he experienced there were a little less dark and a little more pumping. “I think the scene [in China] is a lot more commercial and a lot more house and trance oriented,” Wu says. “It’s hard to find a club that will play more alternative club music.” That is unless you happen to be at the opening celebration of Shenzhen’s newest club in mid-April – the party venue Pulp Space, where Wu plans to spin tunes that are ‘primarily for the dance floor… interesting or electronic dance music I’ve picked up from South America and the States recently’.
We can bet that the way Wu picked up those tunes might have been through your choice of social media networks or music blogs, reflecting the current landscape of music production and distribution. “The way everyone listens to music has vastly changed,” Wu muses. “You used to buy that CD or tape or record, and listen to it at home 10 to 50 times and you’d know it like the back of your hand. Now people don’t give music the attention that it deserves. No-one is selling albums any more, and it’s sad.” In the increasingly manic world of online music access, it can be difficult to separate the figurative wheat from the chaff. But lucky for us, Reuben Wu is here and willing to help.
Catch Reuben Wu's set at Shenzhen's Pulp Space on Saturday April 14.