“What can I say about it that’s not giving away too much…” says LSDXOXO over Zoom from his Berlin apartment, the sunshine and flowers visible from his window, an enviable contrast to our dreary British surroundings. See, LSDXOXO – real name Rashaad Glasgow – has a new record on the way and he’s being uncharacteristically coy about it.
Followers of the Philly-born artist know him for his bawdy, meme-laden online presence (a cheeky contrast to the snooze-worthy, overly enigmatic producer types of yesteryears) and his extra wardrobe. “Coy” is the last trait onlookers would associate with him.
Entitled Dedicated 2 Disrespect, his four-track EP is coming out via a little, totally-under-the-radar label called XL Recordings, home to the likes of Nines, Adele and Radiohead. No biggie. XL signed Glasgow back when he was yearning to progress from an underground DJ and producer to an LSD-of-all-trades. Having the label’s support made the transition easier, as Glasgow wasn’t convinced anyone would believe him as a vocalist before he had a tangible product.
He now has that in the form of D2D, a project that fuses fantasies of roaring ’20s opulence – glamour, sex, and excess – with a seedy underbelly. Think blunt lyrics like “I’m a sick bitch and I like freak sex” – a raunchy refrain that went viral on rave TikTok after Glasgow’s pal VTSS dropped an earlier version on a livestream – and “The devil fucked me good”.
Sonically, it’s “vulgar techno-pop” (his words) that marries the brash, sample-heavy, collage-like sound he’s cultivated (our words) with Chicago ghetto house, earworm pop and trusty rave euphoria influences. It’s the kind of music that flirts with a bittersweet, end-of-the-night melancholy, particularly on our favourite tune, Baby, which also happens to be Glasgow’s favourite.
“If I’m ever doing one thing for too long, I start to plateau creatively,” he says, musing on his desire to continually evolve. “I need to be on to the next thing constantly, which is why I was a hip-hop producer one year, a techno producer another year and a pop producer this year. I just always have to be picking up new things and pulling new things into my process in order to feel like a fresh artist.”
The project led with the anthemic Sick Bitch, which arrived on the same day that D2D was announced. It was a day of firsts: his first single, his first official foray into music videos and, crucially, his first time centering himself within his own narrative. The latter two were particularly nerve-wracking experiences, considering Glasgow’s actually quite introverted – sometimes, at least.
A former affiliate of Venus X’s storied GHE20G0TH1K crew and painter, Glasgow’s often been in the intersection of fashion, music, and art. “The visual side of things for me is super important,” he says. The Sick Bitch video teases the aesthetic ushering Glasgow into his next era. He’s been conjuring up new outfits and dramatic beauty looks with Mischa Notcutt, a London-based stylist and creative director who’s worked with artists like Kelela.
“It’s just very angsty,” he says of the aesthetic, a half-smirk creeping up the side of his face as he ponders how much to give away. “I’ve been calling it ‘Tokyo Vamp’. It’s kind of campy goth, but not the goth where it’s taken too seriously, because that’s not the vibe I’m trying to give off. My character is very comedic in a way, so I’m kind of giving you, like… Zoolander goth.”
Glasgow comes from a “really religious background” and was brought up to be ashamed of things like sex and sexuality. Like his back catalogue, the EP applauds these aspects of his identity, rather than concealing them like he did as a kid. “That’s why it’s so sex positive and in your face,” he explains. That’s not to say he’s doing anything for the shock factor, or from a weird place of “pop star goes bad” ill-intent. He’s having fun, making bops and singing about freak sex, because, well, he can.
Growing up in Philly, he’d go to “$1 parties”, underage nights (or raves, now that he looks back at it) where you’d pay a dollar to dance in someone’s sketchy basement. The music would “always be insane”, a fusion of internet-brewed techno and club sounds from Baltimore, Chicago, and Jersey. He grins at the memories of sweat-soaked debauchery. “It was always just really Black and really fun, applying this ravey attitude to music that wasn’t really played at raves.”
He brought this attitude with him when he moved to New York in 2013. It was there he found an underground community drawn to the same abrasive electronic music mutations as him, populated by people like Total Freedom, Shayne Oliver, NGUZUNGUZU, Arca and Glasgow’s now-best friend Cakes Da Killa. Party-wise, he’d hit up GHE20G0TH1K, which was fast becoming a hub for disruptive club kids.
Glasgow met its founder Venus X at his friend Matt’s (AKA one half of now-duo Machine Girl’s) punk show. Venus approached him and proceeded to sing the sample featured in his 2014 track Voodoo Pussy. It turned out she was a fan and their encounter couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. While Glasgow had been making music for a while by this point, he wasn’t particularly confident. Venus had faith in him. Soon, Glasgow was an essential figure at GHE20G0TH1K. His 2016 mixtape Fuck Marry Kill was the first release to land via the party’s label wing.
In 2018, he moved to Berlin. New York was “fucking expensive” and Glasgow wanted to branch out into music with a more global appeal. So, he took his Floorgasm party to Germany, alongside his actual, physical self and, you know, belongings.
When Glasgow dreamed up Floorgasm, he wasn’t trying to fill a gap in the market. New York was already home to a slew of special POC, queer-run and queer-centric events. He just wanted to explore the essence of LSDXOXO more visually, utilising his production talents and embracing more theatrical elements.
The night’s been a hit in Berlin, enticing a potent blend of catharsis-seeking ravers, fellow artists and wide-eyed newcomers eager for a bangers-only bacchanal curated from a Black, queer-led, genre-defying perspective. “I never want my event to just be tied to one genre,” he declares. “That’s not who I am as an artist.”
His goal when relocating the club night was to flip Berlin’s existing events format on its head. “Coming from New York, where everything is just so extra, there’s so much attention [to] detail with event production. I wanted to bring a bit of New York to Berlin,” he says with a shrug.
Glasgow doesn’t take Floorgasm’s visibility for granted. “I now hold more cards to be able to facilitate better deals for myself and other artists, and provide a platform for other artists that are coming up,” he says. It’s something he credits to living in Berlin, somewhere electronic music culture appears to be valued that bit more. Just last week, for example, the federal government voted to reclassify Berlin’s clubs and live venues as “cultural institutions”.
Over the past year, Glasgow’s been brushing up on his music theory. He’s had the time, given the pause to his usually-rammo tour schedule. He’s mainly been focusing on his voice, he tells us excitedly, building in areas like songwriting and song structure. He wants to speak more directly to his fans and, to do that, he needs to be comfortable enough to have them hear his voice, not just his influences.
It’s something he’s toyed with before, most notably on his 2020 mixtape Waiting 2 Exhale, however, it feels satisfyingly realised on D2D. Well, until his forthcoming album drops, at least. From what we can gather through his cryptic answers, Glasgow’s next project will be angstier, more poetic and tinged with punk, a genre he loves, but has yet to properly explore in his work as the sound palette differs to his. Fortunately, he hints that he’s now found a nice way to marry the two sounds.
“I don’t feel like I’m that gifted technically. My personality and my personable approach to making music have been my saving graces over the years when my sound wasn’t so refined,” he says. His coyness from earlier is now switched for endearing humility as he reflects on his career so far. “But now, I’m able to meld the technical side of things with my personality. For me, that’s really exciting.”
XL Recordings will release Dedicated 2 Disrespect on May 14th