Nancy Whang and Rayna Russom are the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem.EXPAND
Nancy Whang and Rayna Russom are the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem.
Courtesy photo

Nancy Whang and Rayna Russom Are More Than Just the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem

It’s unlikely anyone would’ve batted an eye if Rayna Russom and Nancy Whang had dived headfirst into their beds and remained there once the final curtain fell on LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream tour in June. After all, the previous two-and-a-half years had been spent in near-constant touring that saw the band re-form, seemingly play every music festival possible, perform three residencies at a single venue, and, among other feats, incorporate a whole new album into an already densely packed and well-established set list; another five-year hiatus would’ve been not only understandable but also well deserved.

But even four months removed from the end of LCD’s triumphant, world-spanning expedition, neither bandmate feels as though she's stepped off the tour bus just yet.

“It doesn't really feel that far in the distance,” Whang says from her Brooklyn home.

“Nooooo,” Russom chimes in from her nearby Queens residence. “It's real fresh, reeeaaal fresh.”

When Whang and Russom catch up with New Times by phone, the respective keyboard player-cum-vocalist and synthesizer savant are gearing up to embark back on the road the following day. But instead of whipping audiences into a moshing, tear-stained frenzy as members of one of the most cherished American electronic bands in recent memory, they’re visiting nightclubs around the United States to DJ on their own terms as the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem.

The tour, which will bring them to Floyd Miami this Friday, October 26, was inspired partially by the LCDJs pre- and afterparties that saw members of LCD not named James Murphy take to the decks before and after select dates on the American Dream tour.

“There weren't too many [LCDJs sets], but they were all fun little things to kind of punctuate and break up the other aspects of touring,” Whang says, adding that the gigs also showed different facets of “the entity of LCD.”

“Me and Rayna and Pat [Mahoney] and Tyler [Pope] and Al [Doyle] each individually have these careers, and it's nice to bring different aspects of that and to keep the party going,” she says with a laugh.

“Touring is so crazy that it's actually kind of hard to come off of it,” Russom notes. “[The Ladies of LCD Soundsystem tour] is a good sort of in-between place to land while this two-and-a-half-year LCD tour is — for me at least — still fading out as an experience.”

Neither Russom nor Whang’s experience as an artist has been limited to their time with LCD. Whether through collaborations with Miami-born artist Delia Gonzalez, as the Crystal Ark, or under her Black Meteoric Star moniker, Russom has been producing cultishly adored experimental and techno-tinged electronic music for the better part of two decades.

Likewise, Whang’s vocals have come to be heard as a sonic seal of quality, with her distinctive voice gracing everything from P-Funk by way of electro as one-half of the Juan Maclean to synth-pop stunners with Classixx.

Perhaps most memorable, she and Soulwax gave the blog-house kids an immortal creed to live by — "Part of the Weekend Never Dies" — via the Nite Versions rendition of “E Talking.” (Although she still hates her vocals on Pitchfork’s 15th favorite single of 2004, “NY Excuse”: “I can't — I can’t stand it. I can't stand it. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time I hear the beginning of the song starting.”)

But even as their own careers — and indeed their participation in LCD — have changed and fluctuated, Russom and Whang’s friendship has remained a constant. Reflecting on the origins of their current tour, Russom — who publicly came out as a transgender woman in July 2017 — notes that Whang was not only supportive of her transition, but also perceived her femininity years earlier.

“I remember when I joined the band, Nancy was like, ‘Nobody wants to do looks in this band. Do you want to do looks?’ And I was just like, ‘Yes, I do, Nancy. Yes, I do,’" Russom laughs.

Having begun her transition during LCD’s lengthy comeback run, Russom adds that the current tour is a fitting way to follow the preceding two-and-a-half years of her life.

“This was such a nice way to... step off of that into a place that's a lot more in line with who I am than the place where I stepped onto it,” Russom says. “It's a perfect place.”

Whether by chance or grand design, Whang and Russom graced the cover of LCD’s 2010 single “Drunk Girls.” They recall it was Russom’s idea to remodel the original image for the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem tour poster.

“It became a collaborative idea pretty instantly,” Russom says, noting the two of them even went the extra mile of recruiting the same photographer and using the same background for the new picture. “I think Nancy suggested, ‘Oh, we should switch places... and switch outfits!"

“I think it's pretty serendipitous that we had that original artwork of the two of us,” Whang says. “It could have been any two members of the band, but it just so happened to be me and Rayna, and so we're lucky to even be able to repurpose it for our own means.”

It could be said that Russom and Whang’s approach of tending to the future while minding the past is what’s endeared so many to LCD in the first place; between the five-year pause and the nearly three years of continually coming face-to-face with loving audiences, they both have had plenty of time to consider why LCD continues to resonate with people across different age groups, backgrounds, and musical sensibilities.

“I think the music of LCD has always spoken to a type of — a certain psyche. And as much as James' lyrics focus on — especially now — being old and older, it's all rooted in this memory, attachment to youth, and just feeling really connected to that part of our ourselves, like our history,” Whang says. “So I think it has a nostalgic appeal to other people in our age demographic, but for younger people, there's some sort of... for lack of a more creative vocabulary, angsty sentimentality about it that people connect with.”

Ladies of LCD Soundsystem. With Nancy Whang, Rayna Russom, Laura of Miami, and others. 11 p.m. Friday, October 26, at Floyd Miami, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-456-5613; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $11.40 to $16 via residentadvisor.net.

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