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Le Tigre : Lyon, Le Pez Ner (05.14.2002).

The concept of the interview is pretty much radio-oriented, since it's a blind test we prepared for them... They had to give us the name of the band we played and we were asking questions on the themes these led us to.







Kathleen : Oh, it's The Slits , but I don't know what song it is until I've heard it. Yeah, it's The Slits but I can't think of what song it is.

BiB: Yeah ok, you got it.. The song is called "Adventures Close to Home". It's on Cut.

Johanna and Kathleen : We know Ari Up, we're friends with her. We met her through this guy we know who was gonna hook us up with her to make a 7". She has a new band and was playing in New York and we were going to her shows, and then we met her manager and went to party at her house and hung out. We've just been too busy recently to make that happen though, and we haven't had time to see her in a while


BiB : Is she playing the same kind of music as she used to ?

Kathleen : No, it's more like reggae. She's a big band.

Johanna : Well, she was, you know, in New Age Steppers after... Like, she moved to Jamaica and was doing this step down club called New Age Steppers and one of the record got like greatest hits. I mean it's not a greatest hits 'cause, I mean, it's like one of their only record but it gets called greatest, which is really good, and now she's doing some other dub projects.

Kathleen: She's just called Ari Up


BiB : So, were you into the Slits when you were kids ?

Kathleen : Not when I was a kid. I mean I was into the Slits when I was in Bikini Kill. I don't know when I first heard them, but the Cut record totally changed my life. I would lie in bed and listen to it and freak out, you know 'cause there were so many different things going on and there are like really smart lyrics that are complicated. One of the things I really loved about them is that we have this tape of an interview, a radio interview that they did, and it was really inspirational to us in BK. It helped us deal with bad interview situations (which did happen a lot to us) because they carried a tape recorder around with them and they had sounds taken from anywhere, like people typing on type writers and when they got stupid questions, they would put that up to the microphone. They were just really playful in the way they dealt with these situations. Like a guy would call and say 'hugh, I really like your first record '(Kathleen takes this maniac's voice)... like he would ask all these questions but he obviously was a total pervert and they got really close to the microphone and they would say (she takes the same voice): ' are you waiting in the phone box around the corner? Are you wearing a trench coat?' They totally made fun of him. It was just a creepy call like a guy who was too obsessed with them or something. That's how they responded. I was just as inspired by that interview tape as I was by the music.


BiB : Next track...

Johanna : Oh, it' , hum.....'oh Bondage, Up Yours'

Johanna & Kathleen : by Free Kitten !


BiB : So, what do you think of that cover and how do you feel about the song ? I must say for me, it's like the women in Punk anthem.

Johanna : Well, I love both the cover and the original. Actually when I had a radio show in art school, I would play them both and try to go back and forth between them, but it's hard because it's a different speed, so... (laughs), it didn't really work. Yeah, I think it was really inspiring and deals with the real mystery of punk and of women in punk, like what happened to Poly Styrene. You know, what is she doing now, why was the band so short lived and that stuff. And it also was very bizarre, that you know, she was so young when she wrote those lyrics and they sound so sophisticated. You know, this very interesting absurdist abstract way to talk about, you know, like capitalism and sexism and all those things, so I think she was really amazing. The Free Kitten cover, I think it just sounds great, like it sounds really cool and I was really into it when I heard it. I like that whole Free Kitten album a lot.


BiB: It was pretty much in keeping with this original pop art approach.

Kathleen : I think one of the best thing about the 'oh Bondage up Yours' song is how historically interesting it is, that a lot of what was going on was around Vivienne Westwood and Mc Laren's Sex shop. They were selling bondage gear and she was working there. That means that she made that commentary within a situation that was really risky. It was not just like she was far away from something and she was criticizing it. How I have always interpreted it was that she was working in that Sex shop that had bondage gear that was mostly about making women submissive and it probably wasn't a very popular thing for her to be criticizing that when it was like really in vogue, and that was where all the punk kids were hanging out and working and stuff. That reminded me of the sort of positions that we get in now with what's hip and cool and how it's also really hard to criticize what's going on like five feet away from you. I mean it's way easier to be like 'oh yeah, I know, back in the days or whatever, you know when it was so hard to be a woman in a band or something', but then it's like a huge band right now that has, you know, misogynist lyrics, it's kind of harder 'cause people are like 'but they sound really great !'


BiB : How did you start playing music? Individually and altogether ?

JD : I wasn't allowed to play music, it was just too loud and my parents were not interested... but I did play the classical guitar, because it was quite.... I didn't play music before I met these guys.

Johanna : I was in choir in grade school, and then I started playing with Kathleen.....That's how the interview ended because of a phone call Kathleen got on her cell…and because I was low on battery as well (sorry about that!). If you want to have more primary sources, well, here is what you can get.


BiB : Ok, here's track #3...

Kathleen Hannah : I know this.....is it Huggy Bear, or something ?

BiB : Yeah, it is. It's 'Dissthentic Penetration'.

Kathleen Hannah : But is it on the Kill Rock Stars records, because I never really listened to it...


BiB : Well, it's on the one that was released on Wiiija. I was about to play my Huggy Bear all time favourite...

Kathleen : 'Herjazz' ?


BiB : Well, it's a good one too, but I was thinking of 'February 14th', but I thought it would be too easy, since it's on Our Troubled Youth/Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

Kathleen : yeah, I like that one too.


BiB : Well, do you know them, like personally, do you know what they're up to now? What can you say about your working together ?

Kathleen : Well, yeah, I did know them pretty well. I still see John from time to time. They were a great band. I was just talking about them today actually.


BiB : So how come them made it in the States, when they were like still quite unknown in Europe and definitely isolated in England ?

Kathleen : Do you think they made it in the States ? Johanna : After their first tour...

Kathleen : Well, they were huge in England for a minute, like they were in the Melody Maker every week , I mean it was a very big thing until that thing happened , you know, when they threw things at the Barbie twins and they started freaking out, that was an amazing appearance, actually… but I don't know what you want to know about them.... I mean, BK toured with they, and they took a lot of drugs, that al I have to say.... no, I am just kidding, but they did drop a lot of acid, they were really fun. It was the best time in our life being on tour with them, it was very amusing. I don't know if it was such a success in the States, though. Some kids were really into them but it was quite limited. They weren't big, I mean, they were not like Fugazy, or something. They were just amazing live.


BiB : ok, here comes the next track ...

Johanna : 'Lola', by the Kinks, but it's gonna be a cover by ... The Raincoats ?


BiB : yeah !

Kathleen : I love the Raincoats !


BiB : I bet you do ! Have you listened to the Hangovers at all?Kathleen : I never really listened to the Hangovers. I know they got signed on KRS, but the record came out right after I had left the label, just like the Huggy Bear crowd, actually.So, what do you think of this song, of the fact that it's sung by girls ?


Johanna : I mean it seemed really genius at the time to do like the double mind fact of, you know what I mean, like a guy going to a bar and figuring out this hot woman is,.... you know, has a dick or whatever and reverse that, I mean to me it just seemed perfect, it was just ripe for a cover by a girls band. They made it sound really great.


BiB : Yeah, I think so too. I did this interview with Sarah Dougher and she told me that the biggest revolution now was going to come from transsexual/transgender people. Because basically what feminism did, and is still doing, is to show the oppression based on gender line and challenge it. For her, the only group that is really deeply exploring an alternative, I mean a radical one, is the transgender group. Do you think so too ?

Kathleen : Yeah, right, in the way they are really questioning the whole thing, and asking: 'what is gender ?'

Johanna : But I think in the context of the Raincoats song, it is more like a metaphor for like women when they do anything that's not for women, like being in a band, they are like, you know what I mean, it's like being this social transvestite. To take over that role, you know what I mean? Singing it in this deep husky voice is more about that, like anything that you do that is not part of the socialized norm for women is transgressive, and is challenging gender. I don't think it's more or less part of a revolution, you know what I mean, its also part of feminism, and fighting gender persecution, like struggles of trans people, women and queer.

Kathleen : I think one of the greatest things about the Raincoats' songs, and they were nearly the first band that I heard did that, is that you feel like it's gonna fall apart any second, but it stays together, and I thought that this tension made it really exciting to listen to, because they used weird time signatures, minor chords and stuff like that, that aren't typical pop pleasure, you know, listening things which make it sound like what I said, that it's falling apart, but they managed to keep it together, and that just made me feel that they were not only challenging like gender or whatever, but that they were also challenging a lot of musical boundaries too, and the way you listen to things.


BiB : Next track...

Kathleen : It has to be the Chicks on Speed, right? Let me gear more of the song! Is this old Chicks on Speed ?


BiB : It's the B-side of Eurotrash girl . It's this vinyl with a fist on it, you know? So, how did you meet them ?

Johanna : Well, they released our record...(laughs). Actually, we met them because we played with them last year in Brussels

Kathleen : But there were some thing before that.

Johanna : Yeah, I e-mailed them when a, hum, whatever, their first record was out. I read about it, I had bought it, or something. I wrote t them, saying I hoped we could play with them in Europe. You know what I mean, to make some kind of connection. They e-mailed back, saying 'oh, we love your band too'... you know what I mean? So it was just some contact made and then we made that show together, and then we just became friends and had a good time. That's when they invited us to be on their label. We thought it was a good idea, especially since we were looking for a label in Europe, so it seemed really perfect.


BiB : How to you relate to their work in your perspective ? I mean, do you feel deeply connected ? Do you work in a totally different way? With different aims ? Because I mean when people refer to electronic music and quote bands, yours and the hicks' always come up next to each other.

Johanna : Well, we are obviously very different both in the way we make our music and our content, you know. I mean we don't think too much about.... I mean, we know there are differences, but we're just happy that many people in the community that we can talk to about electronic music and stuff like that, it's really exciting for us to know them, we're happy about it. Our politics are obviously a little bit different, but you know, they are feminists too, and we are happy to exchange, you know, ideas and stuff.Kathleen : I think we are just more didactic, to show what is important to us content wise and stuff , that's where I think the big difference is content wise.


BiB : They had this big container they used as a studio in Toulouse, France last October. It was for this contemporary art festival. They were hoping that some people would show up and actually participate in the whole process of making music, but I think they got a little bit frustrated, because really few people were taking risks, or they just wanted to watch... They were happy with what they did on their own, but not so much with the contact they had had with the crowd, with this space they had left empty that nobody filled.

Kathleen : Well, we feel like that sometimes too, I mean, when the audience is a bit disappointing, when they just stand and stare at us, they just watch the videos and don't participate by dancing or engaging in anyway.... I get frustrated by that, it just feels like they want to consume another product instead of being present in the room. You know, showing either they like it or hate it, you know what I mean, I don't like it when people are just blank... but we've never done any art installation, so I guess that's another big difference...and I don't now what I would feel like if people came in my container.


BiB : Next one...

Kathleen Hannah : It's Team Dresch !


BiB : No, close though !

JD : It's the Butchies !

Kathleen : Oh yeah, I meant the Butchies, sorry.


BiB : Can you name the track ?

JD : (singing) the 'Galaxy is Gay.'


BiB : Which leads us to Mr Lady record.... You've known them for like... hum.... ever ?

JD : Not exactly forever.... well, I was born, Kaia delivered me, Tammy was the nurse.

Kathleen : I met Kaia in Eugene when she was like 19, and playing in a band called Addickid, then when she started hanging out in Olympia to record with Donna. We toured with them. I've been friend with Tammy since I was 19, or something, Tammy Rae, from Mr Lady Records. I am good friend with her. We hooked up because we needed a label. I wasn't doing BK anymore and Jo and I started working together. We decided to put out a record and since they had a label.... It's part of the reason why the record and the band really happened. It was just because we went: 'oh, they have a label, so let's just do something on that, let's just record that instead of letting it rot in the basement'. That taught me how important it is, in a substantial way, to have women' s labels that accept feminist work and work with their content. Because if they're not there, it's not just that this work might not be put out, but it may not be made. It's hard to want to put up a whole bunch of money and energy in something and you know it's never gonna see the light of day. Knowing that that label was there kind of pushed us to make a record.


BiB : Are there any other labels like this in the States ?

Kathleen : Yeah, there's Chainsaw that Donna does. There's also KRS, which I always felt was really supportive, and great. There's also Candy Ass by Jody from Team Dresch.

JD : I think she stopped working on that.


BiB : There was a big gap between Olivia and all these new labels, wasn't there ?

JD : Well, there are always been really small labels, on which people put out their own records, and therefore are quite limited.


BiB : Talking about cool labels... here's the next track...

Altogether : Bratmobile !

Katheen : Oh, yeah, that's when she says 'you wanna stab me...' Panik !! God, that was easy.

JD : It's like hearing your roommates, it's too easy !


BiB : Well, do you still hang out with them now ? What do you think of the fact they got back together and the way the media covered their coming back ?

Kathleen : Well, I don't live close to any of them anymore. I just missed Molly when she was in NY. She was the manager for the Donnas, so she just had like 2 hours.

Johanna : I saw them a couple of years ago at some show case, and it was good to see them. I know Molly from Berkeley, because that's where I grew up, and I hung out with her. I think you know Bratmobile was one of the first that, when I started becoming aware of riot grrl, or like punk feminism beyond what was happening in my scene, which was more hard core or even ska when it was political. It was really inspiring to hear this kind of minimal guitar, and it just sounded so weird. I loved going to their shows, although I don't even know if I have any of their records, I know I have some 7", but I know I liked to see them live.


BiB : What shocked me was how the media were saying they were so more mature' when they got back together, and they were trying to bring the dead riot grrrrls back to life.

Kathleen : I don't know, I was really frustrated when I read the reviews on them when they got back together that were saying that they were too old to be playing this kind of music, and it really pissed me off. When I heard them, I just thought they sounded great One of the most interesting things about that is Erin's guitar playing and also how she just started out as a big fan of K Records, and especially the band Beat Happening, and she became involved in the scene that way, through being a big fan of that kind of music. This very minimal music, that was punk in a different way. It was not punk because it was like loud and very aggressive, it was punk because once again it was challenging the rules of what music could be. To me it's a very interesting thing that she started as a fan and then became a producer, that it wasn't just like another 'you're a fan OR you're a musician.' She really does occupy both spaces really successfully. She's still now a big fan of music and she's still in this great band.


BiB : How did you start playing music ? Individually and altogether ?

JD : I wasn't allowed to play music, it was just too loud and my parents were not interested... but I did play the classical guitar, because it was quite.... I didn't play music before I met these guys.

Johanna : I was in choir in grade school, and then I started playing with Kathleen.....


That's how the interview ended because of a phone call Kathleen got on her cell…and because I was low on battery as well (sorry about that !). If you want to have more primary sources, well, here is what you can get.


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