Get Down

Published September 18, 2014

PHOTO: TONJE THILESEN.

Since the dissolution of LCD Soundsystem in 2011, its erstwhile vocalist and keyboardist Nancy Whang has kept busy: she regularly DJs, guests on tracks by friends Classixx and Shit Robot, and records as one half of electro-disco act the Juan MacLean. In a Dream, MacLean’s third album, out this month on DFA, combines the duo’s signature slinky deep-house production with warmer impulses largely courtesy of Whang, whose favorite songs on the album are slow-jam departures. “We got to be a little weirder,” Whang says.

ALEXANDRIA SYMONDS: Does dividing your time between different projects come naturally?

NANCY WHANG: It’s definitely feast or famine. [laughs] It’s really nerve-racking. When there’s nothing, I’m just sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, wondering if I’m ever going to work again, forever, in my life. And when it gets crazy, I’m like, “Oh my God, I don’t have time to take a shower or anything. I just want this to stop!”

SYMONDS: What do you do when you get bored?

WHANG: There’s always something to do. I just got a puppy.

SYMONDS: Does your puppy react well to music?

WHANG: We actually sing to her all the time. She definitely doesn’t like glitchy techno, which I totally can relate to.

SYMONDS: How would you characterize working with Juan versus your other collaborators?

WHANG: We have this rhythm of working together. It’s like talking to someone you grew up with: you can refer to all these things in your past, inside jokes. We can talk about music in this way that’s very familiar.

SYMONDS: The listener feels your presence more on In a Dream than previous albums, even when it’s Juan’s vocals.

WHANG: Yeah, we’re more interwoven as opposed to layered. And I feel that way about my emotional connection to it.

SYMONDS: You’ve been a woman in a boys’ club for a long time.

WHANG: It’s always been my life. I grew up with older brothers, and they looked after me a lot. In school, being into punk and indie rock, it was just fucking boys everywhere. I’ve always felt like a little sister, although occasionally I feel like a den mother. When James [Murphy] put together LCD, he specifically wanted to have a girl in the band, because when you get a bunch of guys together, the tone of the room is different. Even though the guys in LCD aren’t the most bro-ish bros, you can’t help it—when you’re in a room full of people of the same gender, it just builds on itself.

SYMONDS: You and Juan make dance music, which is tailored to a very specific setting. Are there other situations you could envision this record fitting into?

WHANG: If somebody wants to put them in a movie, that would be really nice. [laughs]

SYMONDS: You’re a food person. If you could design a menu to go with In a Dream, what would it be?

WHANG: A menu that’s adventurous. A weird ingredient, but prepared in a welcoming way.