The incredible keyboardist, vocalist, DJ and founding member of LCD Soundsystem and member of The Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang, answers three questions!
Synth History: What are a few of your all time favorite synthesizers?
Nancy: At this particular moment, I would have to say my favorite synth is the Moog Mavis despite it being currently still in its box. My main squeeze, Nick Millhiser, is working with Nation of Language producing their next record. On mornings when we have to move the car, Nick will bring a cassette of rough mixes to listen to while we look for parking.
There’s this one song that had a bunch of different sounds that I kept asking about. Turns out they were all made with Ian’s earlier version of the Mavis and when they heard how much I liked the sounds, Ian and Aiden very generously gifted one to me, like literally, yesterday, hence it being still in its box. I love that it comes as a DIY kit — I get to do a little crafting before any synthesizing. Also, they come with presets in the form of cardboard overlays. Like a Lite Brite!
Of course, I have to mention the Yamaha CS-80. It’s just such a beautiful machine, sonically and visually. Nick has one in his studio, but I also have one which normally lives in the bedroom. Unfortunately, it’s in the shop right now.
Synth History: Can you recount a favorite memory of playing live?
Nancy: I wouldn’t say this is exactly a favorite memory, but certainly one of the most vivid: LCD played the X Games in Aspen a few years back. It was January in the mountains and we played outside in 12 degree weather. My keyboard rig employed a MidiGAL at the time and it was so cold the LCD screen froze and I couldn’t read the display. I was trying to wear my normal stage outfit which typically doesn’t include arctic weather gear, so halfway through the set someone had to bring me my snow boots because I stopped feeling my feet. I also couldn’t move my fingers which made playing a challenge, so I had to keep them tucked in my armpits whenever I wasn’t playing. And then at some point as the hypothermia started creeping in, my brain went into some survival fugue state and I floated into some other euphoric plane of consciousness. It was wild!
Synth History: What are a few records you think everyone should listen to at least once in their lives?
Nancy: Music is such a visceral experience that saying someone should listen to a particular record at least once in their lifetime suggests that doing so will transform them on a molecular level or at least forever alter their worldview. So I wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that any given record would, upon hearing, do that to any given person. That said, here are 3 that did it for me: Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order; Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814; Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins.
Synth History Exclusive.
Photo credit: Nick Millhiser.