“Total immersion, permanent revolution.” Gavin Russom on life after LCD and the return of The Crystal Ark
Post-LCD Soundsystem, Gavin Russom has returned to The Crystal Ark.
The Crystal Ark began when the multifaceted producer asked artist Viva Ruiz to write and sing Spanish lyrics over a pair of hypnotic Afro-Latin instrumentals. In 2010, the duo released their first singles, ‘The City Never Sleeps’ and ‘The Tangible Presence of the Miraculous,’ synthesizing South American and European (primarily Belgian rave) club styles.
Since then, Russom and Ruiz assembled a touring band and produced their debut album, a self-titled effort due out October 30 on DFA Records. We spoke with Russom via email about New York, the end of LCD Soundsystem, and his goals for The Crystal Ark.
The last time you spoke to FACT, you were still re-acclimatising to New York after five years in Berlin. How has the city changed?
“Well I know I’ve changed a lot, and I live in a different neighborhood so that makes the city seem different, but one thing that I’ve really noticed is how much talent and energy there is around. I feel much more of a sense of community. I remember feeling very isolated for much of the early 2000s. Places where I felt like I fit in at all were few and far between and now I see and hear so much that I relate to around.
“The younger people I see making things and being out there seem much less restricted by scenes or genres and are more into carving out something that feels real for them. That’s the nice news. At the same time the city is way more controlled by affluence than anything else. There are buildings and shops that I never would’ve imagined when I lived here before. Huge parts of the nightlife landscape are bottle service nightmares with horrendous ’90s revival music and ironic dancing of a type that feels very out of sync with the true creative spirit of New York, which I also definitely feel, see and hear loud and clear all around, but in different places.
“And in the end all these contradictions existing together is one thing that I love about New York. There’s a good feeling in the air. Post 9/11 it felt really hopeless here, and post-re-election of George W. Bush in 2004 it felt really hopeless here. That’s when I left. Things got quiet and sad for a while. Occupy Wall St has been an incredible vital force in making New York feel alive and important as a cultural and social center. That spread out to so many corners of life here and in the rest of the country as well.”
Do you see yourself staying there for the time being?
“Yeah it feels like home. I’m honestly having a real love affair with New York these days.”
Press materials says that the band’s sound “reflects the physicality, diversity, sexuality and intensity of New York City itself.” Do you think the dance music of New York, in general, still reflects those values?
“Absolutely, although not everything made in the city does, so ‘in general’ becomes a funny blanket term in this context. I think it’s hard to say anything ‘in general’ about New York because there are always so many different things happening at the same time. But there is for sure much music happening here that reflects those values, and channels a very wild, complex, restless and nasty (in a good way) energy which is one of the frequencies of New York that I find most appealing and most unique to here.”
“Those final shows were really special, intense and magic. I have to say especially the Terminal 5 shows leading up to MSG. The level of intuitive playing together that we got to after a year of that intense touring, combined with the energy projected by audiences who knew they were seeing something they would never see again created a very powerful feeling. Mounting something like a live version of ’45:33′ was the kind of epic experience that speaks to me in music. That was a major high point for me, working with that long time-scale and seamless transitions.
“The final concert at MSG was like the biggest high school play ever. It felt much more like a theatre piece than a rock concert. And I mean that in a good way. The feeling in that – very large – room was one of excitement and possibility. And that’s what I took away from the experience, a real feeling that great things are possible in this life that we are given. And I’m really grateful to James and everyone else involved for transmitting that feeling to me and joining with me in experiencing it.”
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