Ladytron’s Private Passion

Reuben Wu's photography

Today, casting a photographic eye over his life through a lens is Reuben Wu, one quarter of Liverpool’s other finest musical export, Ladytron.

The photographic spark
“I did a module in Developing and Printing when I was at college, but my passion for photography came from a desire to document everywhere I went, especially when I was on tour with the band. I became more and more interested in finding out about new places and experimenting with different cameras and films. I’ve always been into natural environments and buildings that have been really built up and then left to deteriorate. So, things like weird, derelict amusement parks have always caught my photographic eye.”

Amusements parks on film
“We were playing a gig in Bilbao and I’d been researching this place on Google Earth, which was basically an old amusement park on top of a mountain, which was a bit of a drive outside Bilbao. It looked really amazing: completely overgrown and really huge, with all these crazy rides and strange pyramid-like structures. It had been shut down since the Eighties and I was desperate to go and check it out. So, I got a cab and told the driver in really broken Spanish to come back and meet me in two hours. When I got out of the cab I walked up to this place and there was literally no one around, or so I thought. I suddenly clocked something moving out of the corner of my eye and it turned out to be a security guard. He was a really big guy with a gun and he started shouting at me. His job was obviously to protect the park. I was shitting myself but he let me off eventually and we had a little chat about The Beatles. So I only took one photo in the end. But at least I made it out alive and in time for our gig that night. And I was happy that I managed to get at least one photo.”

Camera talk
“I like to experiment with film and analogue stuff, which I suppose is a bit of a parallel with the music as we use a lot of analogue equipment because it has a lot of special and different qualities to it in comparison to the digital stuff. But I shoot a lot on Polaroid because it helps me to see exactly what the photo looks like once I’ve taken it so if I want to take it again, I can do so quite easily without having to put in a film or anything like that. I end up spending a lot of time and money on eBay looking for all the films that are obviously now out of production. But they are planning on re-launching Polaroids at some point next year. I think I’ve got about five or so Polaroid cameras but I shoot a lot on my Leica.”

Out and about
“I have to make a decision about which cameras I’m going to take with me when I’m going out somewhere. Obviously I can only take out a finite amount of equipment so generally I take the smaller ones, but I’d say that usually go out with at least six cameras.”

Artistic appreciation
“I found this photographer/film director called Neil Krug on Flickr about a year ago and I asked him to come and shoot one of our videos. At that point he hadn’t done much stuff at all, just lots of little bits and pieces, so this was the biggest thing he’d ever been asked to do. He came out to meet us in Spain and we went to go and shoot our video at this place called Montserrat, which is just outside Barcelona. It’s a massive mountain of bare rock and rounded stone with a monastery right on the top of it. So he spent two days filming and taking photos. I just think he’s really talented, and he’s only twenty five.”

Photographing the past
“I like to photograph everything but what I get most obsessed about are things that people have built in the past which start out as a crazy, over the top idea and then for some reason they fall into disrepair and just look odd in their surroundings. For example, there’s this amazing structure on the highest point in Berlin that originates from the Second World War when the allies were unable to demolish an old Nazi building because it was too big. So instead they covered it with all this rubble making an artificial hill, which they then named Teufelsberg, meaning Devil’s Hill or Devil’s Mountain. Things like that I find totally fascinating and that’s what I like to focus my work on the most.”

Interview by April Welsh

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