Exclusive: The Juan Maclean Comes clean
In the world of internet downloads and uncertain music scenes, DFA Records veterans Juan Maclean and Nancy Whang manage to stand strong after 12 years of collaborations, even though both have separate careers and distinct styles. The secret? Mutual appreciation for what the other has to offer and ability to evolve over time.
Speaking to Juan and Nancy separately about similar subjects revealed the levels of sync and individuality required to make a collaboration succeed. The two think alike, even if in complete opposites. It’s like black and white. Classic in their differences and epic in the way they work together.
“When I first met Juan he was working in the studio and wanted to have a female vocal added to a track. So James Murphy, who we were both close with, was like “my friend Nancy is a female” (laughs) and after that we kept working together and every time he had a track that needed vocals he’d ask me to do it” says Whang.
With no musical background or experience singing, she proceeded to sing in Juan’s second 12” called “You Can’t Have it Both Ways”, based solely on the belief that if they had asked her to do it was because she could. While Whang’s vocals were at first only used sporadically on LCD Soundsystem and Juan Maclean’s tracks, it later became an essential part of the recording process.
But Maclean’s organic musical evolution started even before Whang came into the picture. Originally a member of punk rock band Six Finger Satellite, he began using synthesizers to explore different realms and that exploration naturally levitated towards electronic. Although he plays dark techno in his DJ sets, he admits being reluctant to making an entire album sound like that. “I always try to make albums song-oriented and save the other kinds of tracks for 12”s."
The Juan Maclean combines the best of Whang and Maclean’s worlds. Inspired by old New York City 70s and 80s music along with conventional and unconventional New Order and Human League, their latest album In A Dream (out September 16) is the album you want to listen to for the perfect balance of old and new.
“The difference between Juan and I musically, is that he’s more techno oriented. I don’t make traditional housey vocals and I think he likes that. We have a good balance and it makes things different.” Says Whang. She refers to her personal style as easy, fun, and embracing- the kind of stuff you want to listen to when you walk into a party. She keeps it upbeat and reminiscent of Paradise Garage days.
Arguably one of the best eras in the NYC music scene, the 70s and 80s shall not be left behind. As music evolves and somewhat loses some of its staying power it is refreshing to see artists making an honest effort to make it stay.
“I love playing live more than anything in the world,” says Maclean. Although he and Whang have been playing gigs separately around the country, the duo plans on touring together after the release of “In A Dream.” But before that, check them out at The DFA Records Summer Soirée on Saturday August 23 at The Wick in Brooklyn, NYC. With DJ sets by Juan Maclean, Holy Ghost!, Nancy Whang, Sinkane. and the NYC live debut of Museum Of Love; this should be one for the books. The party is Presented by ReSolute and Amalgamated Superstar don’t miss it!
Listen to A Simple Design by The Juan Maclean
Juan Maclean and Nancy Whang photographed exclusively for Milk Made by Kevin Jude