LCD Soundsystem's longtime synth player and technician, Gavin Russom, has come out as a transgender woman. In an interview with Pitchfork, Russom said, "Over the last year and a half, I went from my trans identity being something I was in touch with and worked through in one way or another, to suddenly this shift where it’s on the front burner. Now it's time to become a whole person."
Russom officially joined LCD Soundsystem while the band was recording their 2010 LP This Is Happening, though she's been a fixture on James Murphy's DFA label for years both as a musician and technician, creating an array of custom analog synthesizers. Along with LCD Soundsystem, she's performed with Delia Gonzalez and the Crystal Ark and fronted various solo projects, most notably Black Meteoric Star. Russom will DJ publicly for the first time as a trans woman at the Femme's Room party July 13th at Chicago's Berlin nightclub. The next night, LCD Soundsystem will headline the Pitchfork Music Festival.
Russom, who is 43, said she had tried to make her trans identity known at various points in her life, but it wasn't until after LCD Soundsystem's 2016 comeback tour that she found the time to focus on self-care. Though she often embraced her gender fluidity, Russom said dressing gender nonconforming or explicitly feminine often made her the target of violence and harassment. She also said the difficulties she faced while dealing with her transition in the past led to substance abuse and addiction, and kept her from getting into the kind of relationships she wanted. Even as she began transitioning, Russom said she found herself grappling with her own internalized transphobia.
"There was that horrifying realization of, 'Oh my God, this stuff gets to your blood,'" Russom said. "I experienced transmisogyny towards myself. But there's also something wonderful about that too, because it felt like now I could see it. And if I can see it, I can accept it and say, unfortunately, this is the reality of living in a dysfunctional culture."
Russom also spoke about reaching the point where she's comfortable seeking support and then finding it through various groups in New York City. She specifically praised the many trans-identified people of color who run these groups and organizations and spoke about how important it was to talk with people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. "It allowed me to hear all these different perspectives and see the ways in which the trans experience is so varied and so individual," she said.
"The major experience has been one of things falling into place; things that maybe seemed incongruous about my life," Russom said. "Suddenly, as I started to accept the reality, it started to make more sense – like, 'Oh, OK, that's what that was. Oh, that's how this period of my life connects to this other period.' Maybe the most important kernel is realizing that being a transgender person is really a real thing. It's not any of the things that I think people who don't have this experience tend to frame it as."
Russom and LCD Soundsystem will spend much of the fall touring in support of their new album, American Dream, which arrives September 1st and marks their first since This Is Happening. The group's North American tour kicks off October 17th in Washington D.C.