Gavin Rayna Russom is a New York based multimedia artist and composer of electronic music. Using the analog and digital synthesizer she has produced a body of extremely influential art and music over the last 15 years. She is perhaps best known as the synthesist in the critically-acclaimed band LCD Soundsystem.

Much of her work is informed by her deep relationship with the analog synthesizer, a tool she has applied herself to not only as a composer and player but also as a designer and builder since 1999. Rayna began DJing while throwing parties in her high school cafeteria, but her first experiences putting creative work out into the world began in punk and hardcore bands followed by performing in nightclubs and underground DIY venues - spaces that were full of the type of cultural interpolation she found so important.

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As someone who had never been comfortable in the fixed ideas which surrounded gender and all of the social frameworks that accompanied it, the possibilities of music and specifically analog synth electronic production were a critical way for her to engage with the outside world and still be authentic to her internal world. Part of Rayna’s vision is to combine the rigorousness of academic music and art-and its serious intentions to transform culture through its ability to communicate spiritual ideas-with the world of the club where these connect to real people’s daily lives. In addition to recording and performing music she also creates the visual elements for her work including installations, music videos, record covers, costumes, sets and props. Rayna is a current member of LCD Soundsystem with whom she recently completed a two and a half year world tour in support of their number one album "American Dream", followed up by a DJ tour with bandmate Nancy Whang as The Ladies of LCD Soundsystem. She is one of National Sawdust's Artists in Residence for 2019 and will perform new work there several times throught the season. Rayna came out as a trans woman in 2017, read her exclusive feature with Pitchfork and INTO.


Rayna on synths

"Although analog synthesizers have many singular properties such as their ability to produce rich and warm tones, I was attracted to them, and have continued to be interested in using them for other reasons. I initially encountered them just after graduating from high school when I was discovering the possibilities of timbre as a primary compositional device. This came out of research into Indian classical music and jazz and a passion for the early electronic music that came out of Detroit and Chicago in the early 1980’s. All of this music affirmed that in addition to melody and rhythm, changes in the tone of a sound could also have meaning. Analog synthesizers by design provided access to the timbre of sounds. While they may have initially been designed as flexible studio tools that could recreate the sounds of many different acoustic instruments, the ability to change sounds in real time was why they spoke to me. One of the main reasons was because it was body affirming. The overtone system, for example, which one manipulates via the filter cutoff and resonance parameters or the vco wave shape, as well as with any type of additive synthesis, is a physical phenomenon in the human body and of physical spaces. As an internally functional system, one that could be set up to play by themselves without the interaction of a human operator, they are also a type of body. If a human operator did wish to interact with the system this had to be done by movements of the body, physically turning knobs, patching cables, etc."

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"So the synthesizer affirmed the body on many levels. Because of its ability to shape sound the synthesizer proposed an idea that was significant to me as a person dealing with gender dissonance about the fluid nature of everything. Electricity flows in and is shaped as it passes through different modules. The possibilities are infinite and any sound can shape or morph itself into any other one. I was interested in both spirituality and quantum mechanics at the time and that perspective led me to frame this as a metaphor for other kinds of fluidity. I felt and still do feel that these kinds of fluidity, such as the fluidity of gender, are intrinsic to human existence, but are negated by the strictures of capitalist social organization. Once I began to think of it this way, analog synthesis became a type of channeling connected with a tremendous cosmic force, electricity. Just as a trance medium becomes a vessel into which the spirits of ancestors or deities can flow and become animated, the synthesizer is able to channel the elemental force of electricity into human beings via the medium of electroacoustic sound. In playing or even listening to this instrument once, I felt I could tap into a timeless force larger than myself, and thus grow from who I was to who I could be, and perhaps help others to do the same."


Selected Press

Prior to Rayna’s coming out publicly as a trans woman, she spent much of her career exploring her relationship with the fluidity of both her sound and gender. By choosing not to edit past press, Rayna brings awareness to the fact that her career arc has been multifaceted and constantly evolving in order to help shape her trans feminist identity today. 

Explore that journey below:

Ladies of LCD Soundsystem Spotlighted Femme Power at Ophelia's

303 Magazine, November 2018

Nancy Whang and Rayna Russom Are More Than Just the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem

Miami New Times, October 2018

Indya Moore, Gavin Rayna Russom, Jaimie Wilson, Mila Jam & Morgin DuPont Talk Trans Rights: Watch the Conversation

Billboard, October 2018

18 Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Musicians Share Where They Look For Hope In This Dark Political Climate

Billboard, October 2018

Noise in my Head w/ Gavin Rayna Russom

Noise In My Head, October 2018

Nancy Whang and Rayna Russom Are More Than Just the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem

Miami New Times, October 2018

Gavin Rayna Russom on coming out trans, the Berlin club scene and playing SF Pride

Queerty, June 2018

LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna Russom Shares Three Original Poems

Paper Magazine, May 2018

Gavin Rayna Russom on the Future of LCD Soundsystem

SF Weekly, April 2018

LCD Soundsystem's "Tonite" Wins the Grammy for Best Dance Recording!

NewNowNext, Pitchfork, Spin, Resident Advisor, Georgia Voice-January 2018

We Need to Keep Talking About Transgender Rights

Playboy, January 2018

Musician Gavin Rayna Russom On Identity, Addiction, and Feminism

Posture, January 2018

LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna Russom on Living Her Trans Truth

Teen Vogue, December 2017

LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna on the Healing Power of Dance

Advocate, December 2017

OUT 100 2017

Out.com Editors, November 2017

KAIMIN, Unbound Identity Collaboration

KING KONG, November 2017

Rayna Rules with LCD Soundsystem

Windy City Times, November 2017

Gavin Rayna Russom

The Bay Area Reporter, November 2017

Radical Acceptance with Gavin Rayna (of LCD Soundsystem)

Strange Inquiry: Do512, DoTheBay, Do416, Do312, Do617 -October 2017

'There Is No Done': Gavin Rayna Russom On The Dialogue Between Creation and Identity

NPR Music, October 2017

Gavin Rayna Russom Of LCD Soundsystem: "Find Other Girls Like You And Listen To Their Stories"

NewNowNext, October 2017

LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna Russom Releases Entire Solo Catalog & New Website

Out Magazine, October 2017

Trump's Trans Military Ban: Ex-Air Force Rapper KC Ortiz & LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna Russom In Conversation

Billboard, August 2017

LCD Soundsystem’s Gavin Russom Comes Out

INTO, July 2017

LCD Soundsystem’s Gavin Russom Comes Out as Transgender: “Now It’s Time to Become a Whole Person”

Pitchfork.com, July 2017