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Loi Loi, a synth-pop duo based in D.C. has been places. “It’s existed in China. It’s existed in Spain, and now here,” says vocalist and primary songwriter Kristie Di Lascio. Formed four years ago while Di Lascio was living in China, the band’s first full-length album, Viva La Vulva, chronicles her path across three continents and her return to life in the United States. Since then, the band has seen members come and go, and on its second full-length album, Me Dystopia, continues to refine its infectious brand of electronica.
Me Dystopia tackles both of those issues in tandem—Di Lascio herself and the realities of post-2016 America. She compares the experience of re-adjusting to life in the States like a jigsaw puzzle. “I had been living overseas for a very long time,” she says, “and I was trying to make sense of everything around me as well as my own personal feelings and coming back to my own culture and figuring out my identity—where I belonged.”
It turns out that Di Lascio belongs among the myriad musicians that make up the BLIGHT. Records collective. When she originally brought the project back from overseas, she teamed with sibling Johnny Fantastic (Stronger Sex), and while they’re still featured on the album, Di Lascio has also brought on everyone from BLIGHT. mastermind Benjamin Schurr, to Madeline Billheimer (Luna Honey), and Matthew Dowling (SWOLL, The Effects). Not stopping there, Me Dystopia also features guitar work by Pedram Rahmatabadi and trumpets from David Klinger of Forgetter and Frau Eva. Andee Blacksugar (KMFDM, Peter Murphy) even did a “hidden” remix of album opener “Don’t Know.”
The result is an album much darker and more interesting than Viva La Vulva. This is, of course, by design. “I love pop music, and I will not look down on myself for having the first album be super poppy,” says Di Lascio, “but that’s not totally who the group is.” Rather, she says that having the experience of Viva La Vulva under her belt gave her the confidence to attempt something more complex and mature.
An album is a story, she says. “Even it doesn’t totally make sense, it should show this progression of the band and the songwriters as people, and I think that the album should have more of a showcase of the different sides of what we do.”
What Loi Loi does is electronic music, but it’s electronic music with an acoustic heart and soul. The vocal harmonies on Me Dystopia are far more complex than they were on Viva La Vulva, and the contributions of Di Lascio’s current collaborator—known only as Ron—and those of Schurr et al. help to create a compelling listening experience.
When I asked what was next for a band that has already seen so much of the world, Di Lascio laughed. “I want it to keep evolving,” she says. “I’m not saying that we’re going to take on a form of music that’s completely different from who we are [and] I don’t want us to, like, appropriate anything, but we’ll definitely grow and change. And we’ll keep going.”
Loi Loi plays a record release show with Light Beams and Born Dad on Saturday, March 16 at Comet Ping Pong. 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW. $12. 10 p.m. More info here.