LSDXOXO is expanding his sound towards new frontiers
A wave of gentrification has undoubtedly washed over the city of Berlin in the past few years, but it hasn’t extended quite as far as the neighbourhood of Alt-Tempelhof.
I’m late to meet experimental DJ and producer LSDXOXO as I’ve taken several erroneous public transport connections to get here. As I step off the bus and rush through a vacant lot, I stumble into what seems to be a shipping yard, just without a nearby ocean. Finally, I find the studio, apologising profusely, just as LSDXOXO is getting the last round of hot pink extensions weaved into his thick cornrows for Crack Magazine’s photoshoot. “Oh, don’t even worry,” he says cooly, “my Uber thought I was going to the airport…”
Berlin can still be untouched, unconventional and unexpected. That might be what drew LSDXOXO, aka Rashaad Glasgow, away from his spiritual home of New York and towards the German capital, a little over a year ago. And it’s no wonder; Rashaad’s particular brand of eclectic and homespun club music, which constantly sways the needle between Baltimore house, techno, hip-hop and pop, seems perfectly tailored to the city’s non-stop nightlife scene.
“Oh, it’s a lot different here,” Glasgow states as we sit down. His freshly faded hair is now braided, and he’s wrapped in an oversized black hoodie with his own logo on the back. He’s laid-back and subdued, which is interesting, given his reputation for off-the-wall DJ sets, usually dressed in everything from rhinestoned bodices to intricately constructed leotards. But in person, he’s charming and a little reserved, always maintaining eye contact even when sinking deep into the couch opposite me.
“I feel like in New York, or pretty much in the States all around, things are quicker than they are here. Parties are over within six hours, but in Berlin, one DJ set lasts at least three hours. I like it because it’s much more challenging – you really have to curate it out more so you’re making room to have these peaks and valleys within your set.”
Top: Richert Biel
Trousers: Richert Biel
Necklace: Model’s Own
Earrings: Sabrina Dehoff
This ability to think on your feet, to continually recalibrate your music to fit certain moods and atmospheres, is central to Glasgow’s work. “I started producing in freshman year of high school,” he replies, pinpointing where his unique approach to music production comes from. “Then I went to college, and Tumblr had its golden era – everyone’s a photographer, everyone’s a curator, everyone does this, everyone does that. I had a Tumblr blog and I’d just haphazardly make these crunchy, really badly put-together mashup tapes, with anything from techno to baile funk to Dominican merengue. Eventually it got to a point where people were asking me to produce for them, and also DJ. It just sort of happened.”
Immediately adopting the LSDXOXO moniker (“I liked it because it sounded like an AIM username, it was super troll-y, and that’s just how I approached music as an artist”) Glasgow continued to self-release tracks on the internet, until he started collaborating with other artists, lending his singular sound to now-established acts like Cakes da Killa and Bbymutha.
“The first track that made me feel like I had done something was Truth Tella [ft. Cakes da Killa],” Glasgow says enthusiastically. “I sampled a Pokémon instrumental from back in the day, it was Lavender Town! It was the first time that I was proud of what I was putting out into the universe.” Truth Tella, released in 2014, is pure LSDXOXO. The track’s woozy synth line, mimicking a GameBoy left to melt in the sun, is said Pokémon sample, and it runs laps around Cakes’ banjee vocals. It’s a style that Glasgow has built on ever since.
Body Suit: Yumiko
Skirt: A.F. VANDEVORST
Earrings: Sabrina Dehoff
Around the same time, Glasgow became an essential figure in GHE20GOTH1K, the nightlife collective run by Venus X. Having lived in New York during the ascension of this particular scene myself, it was inspiring to see how quickly the fabric of the city’s nightlife changed with the influence of DJs like LSDXOXO. Some would even argue that it was the last big shift in New York club culture, an idea that Glasgow isn’t 100 percent unaware of. “A lot of my friends who are still in New York say that I’m the reason that everyone DJs the same set now,” Glasgow says with a cheeky laugh. “I’m definitely not gonna claim that, but a lot of the scene right now, there’s one formulated idea of what is a good DJ set, and it all draws from the same areas of inspiration. I feel like there’s definitely been a switch, but it comes in waves, so it’ll pass eventually.”
When you’re so deep into a scene, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s still a subculture. In the grand scheme of things, Glasgow is a queer black person in an industry predominantly run by straight, white men. While to some, the way he dresses could be seen as a gimmick, but it’s more a way to assert himself in those spaces. “I’ve always worn crazy things because it’s just a part of my imagination,” Glasgow says. He has the bemused demeanour of someone who has encountered this particular problem a lot. “When I go out into the world and I have a piece of clothing on, it’s looked at as a political statement. Whereas to me, I’m not trying to get anyone’s attention – I’m just trying to feel comfortable in the character that I am. Being in this field, where everyone who is successful is a straight, white man, it’s really interesting to take up space in these arenas. I’m being booked in places where everyone else is a white man and they don’t really expect me to deliver, but I’m usually headlining.”
I ask him if he ever feels the pressure to conform. “As a black person in general, you always feel like you need to prove something. My feet are firmly on the ground in any space that I take, and it’s not being taken from me. As long as I’m doing what I do, then I’m not going to feel threatened.”
As such, Glasgow knows what he’s doing is unique. It’s an ethos that has permeated all his records thus far. On his 2014 mixtape Whorecore, Glasgow leaned into a psychedelic, almost ambient electro dreamscape, while last year’s Body Mods, is perhaps his most cohesive and acclaimed release to date, pulled from Baltimore house and ghettotech.
Moving forward, Glasgow is still expanding his sound towards new frontiers. His next release (and first proper album) contains a lot of firsts: first physical record, first label release, and Glasgow’s first shot at recording his own vocals. “I did house-y vocals, like Cajmere and Miss Kittin. Just bitch tracks, a little Deee-lite influence, you know!” He pauses. “It’s really interesting to see how different the process is between just producing music and releasing it, versus writing it and having to deliver the vocals, or else you have to re-record it, or rewrite a whole song and sit on it forever. It’s really exciting for me to be a whole artist, to attach my own narrative to my music more directly.”
Photography: Joseph Kadow
Styling: Olive Duran
Makeup: Victoria Reuter