Laika

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1998
Laika

Taking their name from the first dog in space, British duo Laika have a warm, dreamy sound that brings together a wide variety of styles. Sometimes eerie synth sounds share the spotlight with crisp live percussion and sparkling melodies.

The group came together in August 1993, after Margaret Fiedler parted company with Moonshake (“It wasn’t really my choice, I was asked to leave the band,” she explains.) Moonshake bassist John Frenett said that he would join Margaret on whatever she did next. She decided to start collaborating with Guy Fixsen, who had been working with the band as the house engineer in the studio Moonshake made their first album in.

“Rather than writing songs seperately, which was the way we did in Moonshake, we were going to write songs together,” explains Margaret, on the concept behind Laika. “Guy had a lot of ideas from production that couldn’t be hoisted on other bands. It has to be your record.”

“Well, you can,” interrupts Guy.

“There are a lot of producers who do that kind of stuff,” added Margaret, “make their own records with the band there in name only.”

Laika’s lineup is rounded out by percussionist Lou Ciccotelli and drummer Philippe d’Armonville, but the creative core still remains Margaret and Guy.

“They’ve all got their own other bands where they are the songwriter,” Margaret says. ” I don’t really think democracy works in music. I think you do have to have in each band one or, at the most, two people who are really kind of like… it’s their concept … because otherwise I think it ends up getting really watered down. It needs focus. That’s not a problem, because everybody in the band has their own band.”

“Sound of the Satellites” is the most recent Laika album, the follow-up to 1995’s “Silver Apples on the Moon.” Though it was only recently released in America, it came out in England over a year ago. The band members don’t really mind the delay, as it allows them to really spend the time promoting it in different parts of the world. Laika toured America with Fiona Apple this past winter and plans on returning soon on their own. They’ve been writing but so far are not doing any new material live.

“I like the fact that I don’t have a normal lifestyle,” says Margaret, on life as a member of Laika. “I think I’d get bored.”

“It’s very all or nothing,” explains Guy. “We’re either in a sort of little bubble at home, where we hardly go out at all. We go out to get groceries maybe, go out to get beer occasionally and basically stay in and make music. And the other phase is the touring, where we’re constantly on the go.”

“We to go out to dinner a lot,” Margaret adds. “That’s the best part. On tour, you do it every day and don’t have to pay for it.”

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