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‘Designer Babies’: Lawrence Rothman and Kim Gordon’s lovely, spooky new video
08.30.2017
09:02 am
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David Bowie was noted for, among so many other things, for his chameleon-like assumption of drastically different performative identities every few albums. As if to up the ante, producer/songwriter Lawrence Rothman has assumed a different identity for every song on his forthcoming album The Book of Law. Rothman has created nine alter egos for the album, and many will star in their own videos, to be directed by Floria Sigismondi, an illustrious music video director with a CV too long to relate—it goes back 25 years and includes Sigur Ros, Bjork, The Cure, Marilyn Manson, and, um, Bowie. She also made the 2010 Runaways biopic.

Just based on its ambitious nature alone, that project seems like it’ll be worth a good close look and listen, but what concerns us today is a song that won’t be on that album, and which in fact was released about a year and a half ago. It’s “Designer Babies,” a collaboration with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and the video for it has been held up for all this time because the footage disappeared and reappeared under still-unexplained circumstances. The video is a strikingly simple vignette of a rough-looking marionette on a table engaging with doll parts, an artist’s articulated hand model, and the torso of a mannequin. The effect is at once eerie and elegiac. Rothman was kind enough to take some time to tell us about the video and the puppeteer.

Floria shot the video the night we mixed the song, but the footage disappeared for like months, and then randomly showed up in Floria’s Dropbox. We have no idea what the hell happened and how it got placed on her Dropbox months later—it was never stored on her Dropbox to begin with. The puppeteer’s name was Eli. He showed up out of nowhere the day before we were to shoot. Floria loved his puppets and scrapped her previous idea 24 hours before shoot and had Eli bring his puppet down. He never gave us his last name, so we have no more info on him.

Rothman also gave us some background on recording “Designer Babies,” and how he secured Kim Gordon’s involvement.

Seeing Sonic Youth’s “Dirty Boots” video on MTV when my mom first figured out how to steal cable television in the 90’s inspired me to pick up a bass and start a band. I even, for a while, dressed like her when I was in my reading-lots-of-Sylvia-Plath phase. Kim’s lyrics to me are fucking beyond perfection, I am shocked she has never written any fiction. When it came time to do make my album, crazy magician producer Justin Raisen asked me who was my favorite singer of all time. My response was it’s a tie between Kim Gordon and Arthur Russell. Justin was like well, Arthur is no longer here, so let’s get Kim. We literally cold-called her and got her down to the studio, and had a great time having her sing through her guitar amp and just freestyle. From there we built like 20 versions of the song. The final has Angel Olsen singing background vocals on it, Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs on guitar, Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint doing some drum stuff, Active Child on Harp, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen on bass. The song also features an organ rumored to have once belonged to Harry Houdini.

 
Have a look after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.30.2017
09:02 am
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‘Kool Thing’: Kim Gordon’s 1989 interview with LL Cool J that inspired the Sonic Youth song
01.04.2017
09:14 am
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In the September 1989 issue of SPIN magazine, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon interviewed LL Cool J to get a feminist perspective on the male-dominated world of hip-hop. The result was an awkward and unintentionally hilarious conversation that served as the inspiration for the 1990 song “Kool Thing” (which was Sonic Youth’s first major label single). At the time, LL was promoting his third studio album, Walking with a Panther, the cover which depicted the rapper posing alongside a cuddly and adorable black panther sporting gold chains.

“I had a thing for male Black Panthers, I also loved LL Cool J’s first record, Radio, which was produced by Rick Rubin.” Kim recounts in her memoir Girl in a Band. She had said publicly that Radio was one of the albums that turned her on to rap music, and that “Going Back to Cali” was one of her favorite music videos because as someone who grew up in L.A. she appreciated “the humorous way it made fun of the 1960s archetypal Southern California sexy white-girl aesthetic.” LL’s publicist couldn’t believe that anyone in Sonic Youth knew about LL Cool J and happily granted an interview which took place during a rehearsal break for an upcoming tour. “I’ve never interviewed a pop star before, and having just seen LL on The Arsenio Hall Show I’m nervous.” Kim prefaced in the SPIN magazine interview titled “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy.”

“When I — the Lower East Side scum-rocker, feeling really, really uncool — arrive at the rehearsal studio, the dancers are taking a break. They’re real friendly; we talk about my shoes for a second. They are three girls — one of whom, Rosie Perez, is in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing — and a young boy. A bunch of other people are just hanging out. LL is preoccupied talking to some stylists, gesturing about clothes. Occasionally he shoots a look my way; I have no idea if he’s expecting me or he’s just looking at my out-of-place bleached blonde hair. LL slowly approaches, checking me out but stopping to talk to friends. I jump up, walk over, grab his hand, introduce myself and say, ‘Can I shake your hand?’ He’s aloof. I marvel how boys who’re tough or cool to cover up their sensitivity keep attracting girls and fooling themselves.” Kim and LL sat down at a nearby empty studio and she began the interview by asking him to sign her Radio CD. She then gave him a copy of Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album (a pseudonymous side project of Sonic Youth and Minutemen/Firehose member Mike Watt). When she told LL Cool J that The Whitey Album sampled beats off his records he laughed out loud and said, “I got a CD in a couple of my cars, I’ll play it.”

They began discussing sports cars and LL’s newly purchased home he called “Wonderland,” as LL flipped through The Whitey Album CD packaging. He pulled out and unfolded an insert which featured a photograph of a young girl with dozens of black & white flyers for hardcore shows plastered all over her bedroom wall. “Who’s this girl? It must have been a long time ago for it to say The Negroes.” LL mistook a flyer he noticed for Necros (a punk band from the Detroit music scene.) “That’s the Necros, an early hardcore band. Are you familiar with the early hardcore scene?” “Uh-uh, what is that, like heavy metal?” “No, not at all! It was basically kids talking to other kids. The Beastie Boys were part of that. I remember when they were a hardcore band.” LL processes the information and then quips, “The Young and the Useless?” (referring to an early 1980s punk band that included future Beastie Boys member Ad-Rock, and so, cool points for LL Cool J). “That was another band. The Beastie Boys had their same name when they were a hardcore band. Hardcore was so fast that if your ears weren’t attuned to it you couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t meant for anyone outside the scene. Like rap music, some of it is so fast, unless you’re familiar with the slang you can’t get it. That’s why so many people who were into hardcore listen to rap. It’s something that excludes white mainstream culture.” Gordon explained. “That’s interesting, I never really knew anything about that.” Cool J said.
 

Photo from Ciccone Youth’s The Whitey Album CD insert fold-out
 
While Kim Gordon’s connecting the dots between hip hop and the early hardcore music scene made for a great start to the interview, things then took a dive when she asked him about the females fans who admire him. “What about women who are so into you as a sex object that they take a picture of you to bed with them and their boyfriends or husbands start freaking out?” “It’s not my problem,” LL responded. “The guy has to have control over his woman.” Gordon plays along without confronting LL Cool J about his misogynist comments. “Are there any female sex symbols that you relate to?” Kim asks, “Oh yeah, every day on the way to work.”

“It was totally ridiculous for me to assume that we had anything in common” Gordon later admitted in a 1991 telephone interview with the Phoenix New Times. “That’s why I tried to make the article show how elite and small the downtown scene that I come out of is. I was trying to make fun of myself. I don’t know if that came across.” Six months after the interview was published, Sonic Youth recorded the song “Kool Thing” at Sorcerer Sound Recording Studios in New York City. Although LL Cool J’s name is never mentioned, the song’s lyrics contain several references to the rapper’s music. Kim Gordon sings “Kool Thing let me play it with your radio” (a reference to LL Cool J’s single “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”). The lyrics “Kool thing walkin’ like a panther” are a reference to the LL Cool J album Walking With a Panther. She repeats the line “I don’t think so” over and over again which is also a repeating line in the LL Cool J hit “Going Back to Cali.”

Elissa Schappell, author of the short-story collection Blueprints for Building Better Girls, perfectly summarizes the clash between Gordon and Cool J in an essay she wrote for the anthology book Here She Comes Now: Women in Music Who Have Changed Our Lives:

“Kim was able to take the disastrous interview and elegantly turn it into something much larger than its parts. Working at SPY I was used to putting myself into the path of trouble, and when it found me I took notes. Kim had taken notes and then transformed the experience into a sharp and witty social critique of gender, race and power that you could dance to. ‘Kool Thing’ is more than Kim’s assault on LL Cool J’s ego, but a self-mocking jibe at her own liberal politics. The sarcasm in her voice when she addresses ‘Kool Thing’ (Public Enemy’s Chuck D) in the breakdown is self-mocking — the female voice inflated by privilege and naïveté. (‘I just wanna know, what are you gonna do for me? I mean, are you going to liberate us girls from the white male corporate oppression?’)

More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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01.04.2017
09:14 am
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‘Murdered Out’: New single from Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon
09.12.2016
10:34 am
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Kim Gordon’s having a busy year. In March she released a noisy but atmospheric album called Glitterbust by a band of the same name consisting of herself and pro surfer Alex Knost. This morning, she’s released a solo single called “Murdered Out.” The song is a paean to stealth cars that have been completely blackened with matte black paint, as Gordon explained in a news release:

When I moved back to LA I noticed more and more cars painted with black matte spray, tinted windows, blackened logos, and black wheels. This was something I had occasionally seen in the past, part of low-rider car culture. A reclaiming of a corporate symbol of American success, The Car, from an outsider’s point of view. A statement-making rejection of the shiny brand new look, the idea of a new start, the promise of power, and the freedom on the open road. Like an option on a voting ballot, “none of the above.”

“Murdered Out,” as a look, is now creeping into mainstream culture as a design trend. A coffee brand. A clothing line. A nail polish color.

Black-on-black matte is the ultimate expression in digging out, getting rid of, purging the soul. Like a black hole, the supreme inward look, a culture collapsing in on itself, the outsider as an unwilling participant as the “It” look.

 

 
The song kicks pretty high ass—in the few years since Sonic Youth’s collapse, Gordon’s been doing the avant-garde thing pretty full-bore, not just with Glitterbust, but with Body/Head, a duo featuring guitar improviser Bill Nace, who released a self-titled LP in 2013. But this single features big riffs and deep-pocket grooves (drums on this were hammered by Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint), and Gordon’s distinctive cooing/warbling/moaning vocals are given equal priority to anxiously shrill guitar noise.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Literary Youth: Kim Gordon to publish two books, make cameo on HBO’s ‘Girls’
Kim Gordon’s video love letter to Danceteria, early 1980s

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.12.2016
10:34 am
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Debbie Harry’s dress, Kim Gordon painting and other NYC punk artifacts in the Mudd Club rummage sale


 
Though it only existed for five years, from 1978 to 1983, NYC’s Mudd Club served as one of New York—and American—underground culture’s most crucial incubators. Talking Heads and Blondie were fixtures there, and artists that emerged from the scene it galvanized included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Madonna, the B-52s, Kathy Acker… you get the point. It was the gnarly, buoyantly creative flip-side of Studio 54’s disco-glamour coin, a lightning-in-a-bottle moment that can’t be recreated.
 

 
This week, Mudd Club co-founder Steve Mass has contrived a Mudd Club rummage sale to benefit the Bowery Mission, a long surviving homeless shelter/food kitchen that remains in NYC’s onetime Skid Row, now, like basically all of Lower Manhattan, a playground for the privileged. The event will be held on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at Django at the Roxy Hotel. Admission ain’t cheap. It’s $200 a head to get in, but again, the money goes to a homeless mission. What that gets you is a chance to buy a Vivienne Westwood dress donated by Debbie Harry, an original painting donated by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and other items donated by Sting, Maripol, Patti Smith, and other members of the Downtown demimonde.

Via Bedford and Bowery:

Mass assures us that, rather than being a Sotheby’s-style auction, the rummage sale will be “like we had it in the old days,” with $50 dollar trinkets casually laid out next to more expensive items. “If Marc Jacobs donates a dress from that period and it’s $4,000 or $5,000, it might be next to a pair of shoes of someone who lost them in the Mudd Club in 1980.”

That pastiche, Mass said, was true to the club’s sensibility. “We were merging all these disciplines, which hadn’t been done before in a club,” said Mass, citing the presence of filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, writers like Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney, photographers like Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin (both of whom are hosts), and fashion designers like Anna Sui (another host) and Marc Jacobs, both of whom had early shows there.

The event will be open-bar, and will feature performances by the B-52s Kate Pierson and the Patti Smith Group’s Lenny Kaye, plus DJs and more to be announced.

Here’s some BADASS footage of the Cramps at the Mudd Club in 1981, from the contemporary NYC access cable program “Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube.”
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Kim Gordon’s video love letter to Danceteria, early 1980s
H.R. Giger and Debbie Harry interview, 1981

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.18.2015
09:52 am
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Unhappy Valentine’s Day: Kim Gordon’s Break-Up Playlist
02.14.2014
01:12 pm
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kgscream
 
The break-up of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore in 2011 caused an amount of dismay and grief normally reserved for fictional characters or mentally deficient royals splitting. What was interesting and somewhat surprising was the music Kim turned to for comfort in the aftermath. She told Elle,  “Rap music is really good when you’re traumatized.”

Not country revenge songs about cheating in which someone gets shot? Not Nick Cave’s “Your Funeral and My Trial,” Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, or a single song from Frank Sinatra’s Only The Lonely album?

For others, the only things that helped them through the first stages of a broken heart are copious amounts of alcohol, gallons of ice cream, Patsy Cline, early Kiss albums, Dio, or The MBD Band’s Hot ‘N Sticky. For Kim, it was old school and new rap.

Having her share her break-up playlist is like having Brian Greene explain the Higgs boson, Richard Stallman expound on software liberty, or Henry Rollins talk about self-reliance (or list his twenty favorite punk albums). It’s time to pull up a chair.

gordonmoorewedding
 
Kim and Thurston’s wedding day, 1984. Do you feel doomed yet?

Kim Gordon’s “Traumatized Good Time Tunes,” as told to Refinery 29 after the jump…

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Posted by Kimberly J. Bright
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02.14.2014
01:12 pm
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Kim Gordon’s video love letter to Danceteria, early 1980s
10.14.2013
11:12 am
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Here we have a fascinating artifact from an unquestionably fascinating artist, Kim Gordon. It’s an 11-minute video called “Making the Nature Scene” that pretty much perfectly blends music, video, and text to create a kind of high-minded no-wave manifesto dedicated to the pressing subject of, well, using video in nightclubs.

Consisting of little more than a handful of slow pans across the fabled Danceteria, the entropic tinkling of experimental and pop music, and some hastily penned video text, “Making the Nature Scene” honestly looks like it was thrown together in little more than a weekend. The quasi-Ballardian text, which is also highly Warhol-influenced (and indeed, mentions Warhol twice), frequently confuses “its” and “it’s” and generally does great violence to apostrophes, something that will surely drive Richard up the wall.

In a more serious vein, the sheer chilliness of it all is a sobering reminder of how “cool” things were in the early 1980s. All that concentrated energy and thought to defend the validity of using video…. we have it better now. Art and creativity are no longer so sequestered; it’s hard to imagine that a young person today with any kind of resources wouldn’t be able to find or justify this or that injection of anarchic expression in whatsoever context he or she desired, whether it be a cheerleading session, a haystack, a magnet board, a collection of 1940s postcards, or an expanse in a Home Depot. You’ll find it all on Vine, right?

We leave you with a brief reminiscence from Kim Gordon about Danceteria and then, the video itself:
 

Mike Gira, from the Swans was someone I knew from art school and we used to hang out with him. I remember hanging out with him at this club Danceteria and Madonna was around. She was sort of sitting on his lap kissing him but then looking around the room for her next move Or whatever… But when her first record came out we thought it was cool because it was such minimal dance music and it was sort of lo fi.

 

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Happy Birthday Kim Gordon
Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988
Literary Youth: Kim Gordon to publish two books, make cameo on HBO’s ‘Girls’

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.14.2013
11:12 am
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Literary Youth: Kim Gordon to publish two books, make cameo on HBO’s ‘Girls’
09.09.2013
10:28 am
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Kim Gordon has reportedly begun writing her autobiography—just one of two books she will be publishing soon, the second will focus on her writing for art magazines in the 80s. She’s also slated to appear in the third season of HBO’s Girls. Via NME:

Set to be titled Girl In A Band and published by HarperCollins, it will “chronicle her choice to leave Los Angeles in the early ’80s for the post-punk scene in New York City, where she formed Sonic Youth”. Gordon was a member of the iconic group from their foundation in 1981 until 2011, when the band went on hiatus after her separation from bandmate and husband Thurston Moore. She has since formed a new band, Body/Head, with Vampire Belt member Bill Nace.

Another book due to be released by Sternberg Press will collate essays the musician wrote for art and culture magazines in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Gordon is also exhibiting a retrospective of her own visual art at New York gallery White Columns. The exhibition features her work from 1980 right through to 2013 and, according to the gallery’s own website, “a new limited-edition vinyl solo recording by Kim Gordon will accompany the exhibition, and a publication anthologizing Gordon’s activities as an artist will follow in the fall.”

The world of book publishing isn’t entirely new for Ms. Gordon. In the mid Oughts she released Chronicles, Vol.1 and Vol. 2, and another artist’s book, Performing/Guzzling, followed in 2010.

Body/Head’s Coming Apart album is released today

Below, Body/Head (Kim Gordon and Bill Nace) at Kunstencentrum, Belgium on February 24th 2012.
 

 
The good Reverend Gordon marries Rufus and Lily on Gossip Girl:
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Gynoticians’: David Cross & Amber Tamblyn’s brutal takedown of know-nothing GOP politicians
Worst rock tattoo of all time
Plentiful new Sonic Youth product despite total lack of extant Sonic Youth
Sonic Meth: Sonic Youth meets ‘Breaking Bad’ tee-shirt

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.09.2013
10:28 am
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Plentiful new Sonic Youth product despite total lack of extant Sonic Youth
08.26.2013
02:48 pm
Topics:
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body/head
 
Despite the massively influential band’s breakup (or hiatus - it’s never been made clear) a year and a half ago, Sonic Youth fans have had no shortage of releases to keep us happy. This autumn in particular is rife with opportunity.

As reported in The Independent and elsewhere, Sonic Youth bassist/singer Kim Gordon and experimental guitarist Bill Nace will release their collaborative album Coming Apart under the band name Body/Head on Tuesday, September 10th. Dates for a short tour are listed on their web site, and “Actress,” a song from the album, has been released to YouTube.
 

 
Meanwhile, guitarist Lee Ranaldo has also been a very very busy SY, having released last summer’s lovely, droney album On Jones Beach with Glacial, and he’s now on the cusp of dropping Last Night On Earth, the second release from his band The Dust. (Their first, Between the Times and the Tides, was released in March of 2012.) There’s long been a dismissive “Oh, it’s a Lee song” attitude among a certain camp within SY’s fandom, but if you’re in that cohort, seriously, listen to “Lecce, Leaving” all the way through and tell me it’s not awesome: 
 

 
One of Thurston Moore’s multiple projects post-SY, Chelsea Light Moving, has announced a fall tour as well, though their album has been available since spring. Dates listed on Matador Records’ blog are different from those on the band’s home page, so probably best to confirm appearances with the venue nearest you. Along with Moore, the band features Hush Arbors’ main man Keith Wood and multi-instrumentalist Samara Lubelski.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘People Who Do Noise’: a noise music documentary
German music fans heatedly debate musical and cultural merits of The Fall
‘Tropicália’: Terrific documentary on the Brazilian music revolution of the 1960s
Jim Jarmusch, Neil Young, RZA: The music of Dead Man and Ghost Dog
What the Future Sounded Like:  the story of Electronic Music Studios
The Forgotten Musical Career of Milla Jovovich

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.26.2013
02:48 pm
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Kim Gordon’s open letter to Karen Carpenter

Karen and Kim
 
Of course, most Sonic Youth fans are aware that the 1990 song, “Tunic (Song for Karen),” is a not exactly transparent reference to Karen Carpenter, the honey-voiced chanteuse and easy-listening icon. Kim Gordon’s trademark disaffected delivery feels almost sardonic, as she pleas, “I feel like I’m disappearing - getting smaller every day, but I look in the mirror - I’m bigger in every way”  a reference to Carpenter’s tragic 1983 death from complications related to anorexia nervosa.

In fact, Gordon was a giant Carpenters fan, and the song is completely earnest. Explaining the lyrics 20 years later, Gordon professed,

I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t. Also I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine. When people come and ask me about being famous or whatever and I don’t feel that, it’s not me. But it makes me think about it. The music is definitely about the darker side. But I also wanted to liberate Karen into heaven

Below is an open letter written by Gordon to Karen (date unknown), reprinted from the Sonic Youth biography, Sonic Youth: Sensational Fix:

Dear Karen,

Thru the years of The Carpenters TV specials I saw you change from the Innocent Oreo-cookie-and-milk-eyed girl next door to hollowed eyes and a lank body adrift on a candy-colored stage set. You and Richard, by the end, looked drugged—there’s so little energy. The words come out of yr mouth but yr eyes say other things, “Help me, please, I’m lost in my own passive resistance, something went wrong. I wanted to make myself disappear from their control. My parents, Richard, the writers who call me ‘hippie, fat.’ Since I was, like most girls, brought up to be polite and considerate, I figured no one would notice anything wrong—as long as, outwardly, I continued to do what was expected of me. Maybe they could control all the outward aspects of my life, but my body is all in my control. I can make myself smaller. I can disappear. I can starve myself to death and they won’t know it. My voice will never give me away. They’re not my words. No one will guess my pain. But I will make the words my own because I have to express myself somehow. Pain is not perfect so there is no place in Richard’s life for it. I have to be perfect too. I must be thin so I’m perfect. Was I a teenager once?... I forget. Now I look middle-aged, with a bad perm and country-western clothes.”

I must ask you, Karen, who were your role models? Was it yr mother? What kind of books did you like to read? Did anyone ever ask you that question—what’s it like being a girl in music? What were yr dreams? Did you have any female friends or was it just you and Richard, mom and dad, A&M? Did you ever go running along the sand, feeling the ocean rush up between yr legs? Who is Karen Carpenter, really, besides the sad girl with the extraordinarily beautiful, soulful voice?

your fan – love,
kim

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Just how beautiful was Karen Carpenter’s voice? Listen to her isolated vocal tracks and find out

Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988

Via Letters of Note

Posted by Amber Frost
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07.22.2013
11:07 am
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No One’s Little Girls: The Raincoats were Kurt Cobain’s favorite band
07.12.2013
04:11 pm
Topics:
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Although I grew up in the punk era, it was really the post-punk stuff that turned my crank, and still does. During that time there were countless odd ephemeral little bands (including one I was in for 15 minutes) that not only stood no chance of widespread popularity, it never even occurred to them that they could be popular or that they should try to make some real money out of their music. It was almost more about doing something that other creative people in bands would take notice of. Why things were like that for a brief and shining moment I really can’t say, though part of it was the way economics worked then: If you didn’t need a lot of stuff, you could sorta get by with very little bread and spend a lot of your time hangin’ out and, occasionally, working out your musical ideas. Those days, of course, were forcibly crash-landed by Reagan & Thatcher, but for a narrow window of time there was some really incredible musical creativity made by folks who wanted to do something interesting.

One of the obscure little bands I was into was called The Raincoats, and I never saw a review of any of their albums, never saw a video and never saw a photo of them (all the albums I or anyone I knew had only had paintings on the covers). Although they seemed to be a mostly female band, I don’t think that thought really explicitly occurred to me back then: They just made this jangly, repetitive-but-catchy music with weird, often miserable lyrics sung for the most part “unprofessionally” (and as a punk that “unprofessional” bit really made it sound authentic to me). But something about it rung true to my ears and to my small circle of friends as well. We’d sit in dark rooms smoking hashish, listening to The Raincoats and just…abide, though not Cali-style: This was New York City style, complete with cold crummy weather and/or pouring rain.

Little did I know, then, that others were also huddled in dark places around the country, and around the world, listening to The Raincoats as if their music was a tiny little fire with which we’d warm our hands. Never having been a Nirvana fan (though I do appreciate their unique sound), I didn’t know that Kurt Cobain had helped to get their albums reissued on CD and had written this about them:

“..I don’t really know anything about The Raincoats except that they recorded some music that has affected me so much that, whenever I hear it I’m reminded of a particular time in my life when I was (shall we say) extremely unhappy, lonely, and bored. If it weren’t for the luxury of putting that scratchy copy of The Raincoats’ first record, I would have had very few moments of peace. I suppose I could have researched a bit of history about the band but I feel it’s more important to delineated the way I feel and how they sound. When I listen to The Raincoats I feel as if I’m a stowaway in an attic, violating and in the dark. Rather than listening to them I feel like I’m listening in on them. We’re together in the same old house and I have to be completely still or they will hear me spying from above and, if I get caught - everything will be ruined because it’s their thing.”

Meanwhile, Kim Gordon had this to say about The Raincoats:

It was The Raincoats I related to most. They seemed like ordinary people playing extraordinary music. Music that was natural that made room for cohesion of personalities. They had enough confidence to be vulnerable and to be themselves without having to take on the mantle of male rock/punk rock aggression…or the typical female as sex symbol avec irony or sensationalism.

Listening to The Raincoats I didn’t get the sense that I was listening in to a message from women to other women. They were just singing bluntly and honestly about their lives (which had patches of light but plenty of patches of rain too), and we listeners scattered in our dark places related to that. Though probably their best-known song is “Shouting Out Loud,” my favorite tune of theirs was always “I Saw a Hill” from Moving. Listen through to the finale and tell me this doesn’t kick your ass and point straight and unwaveringly at that hidden woman that you keep (be ye male or female) deep down inside and that until this moment you were absolutely sure no one could possibly identify:
 

 
The Raincoats’ stellar cover of “Lola” by The Kinks:
 

 
Below, seldom-seen footage of The Raincoats performing “Go Away” and “No Side to Fall In” in 1982.
 

Posted by Em
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07.12.2013
04:11 pm
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Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988


 
Here’s an interesting interview with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, shot on a roof in downtown Manhattan in 1988. This footage is completely raw and unedited, with cuts and sound interruptions intact. As such, it takes Kim a couple of minutes to get into the swing of things, but she talks about life as a woman in a rock’n’roll band, art, sex, playing bass, her projects Harry Crews (with Lydia Lunch) and Ciccone Youth, and she reads extracts from a book called So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star. The interview is about 20 minutes long and is split into two parts.
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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05.02.2013
02:42 pm
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Kool Thing: Kim Gordon on her divorce from Thurston Moore and breast cancer
04.23.2013
01:45 pm
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Vintage shot of Kim Gordon via Suicide Watch

There’s a fascinating must-read short profile of Kim Gordon in this month’s Elle by Lizzy Goodman. In it, the Sonic Youth co-founder discusses being single again at the still Sonically Youthful age of 59, divvying up those pop culture treasures she and Thurston Moore must’ve amassed over the years and her breast cancer treatment:

“We have all these books, records, and art and are getting it all assessed; that’s what is taking so long,” she says after ordering a glass of rosé. But both have moved on. Among her suitors are a restaurateur, an architect, and an actor. “It’s just weird,” Gordon says of navigating new romance. “I can’t tell what’s normal.” And Moore has regularly been seen with the same woman, fueling the rumor that his affair helped doom their marriage. “We seemed to have a normal relationship inside of a crazy world,” Gordon says of her marriage. “And in fact, it ended in a kind of normal way—midlife crisis, starstruck woman.”

Some years ago, a woman Gordon declines to name became a part of the Sonic Youth world, first as the girlfriend of an erstwhile band member and later as a partner on a literary project with Moore. Eventually, Gordon discovered a text message and confronted him about having an affair. They went to counseling, but he kept seeing the other woman. “We never got to the point where we could just get rid of her so I could decide what I wanted to do,” Gordon says. “Thurston was carrying on this whole double life with her. He was really like a lost soul.” Moore moved out. Gordon stayed home and listened to a lot of hip-hop. “Rap music is really good when you’re traumatized,” she says.

The first few months were rough. “It did feel like every day was different,” she recalls. “It’s a huge, drastic change.” But slowly things improved. She adjusted to the framework of semisingle parenthood. (Coco, their only child, is now a freshman at a Chicago art school.) Gordon kept their colonial filled with friends—a musician, a poet, and Moore’s adult niece, with whom Gordon has remained very close. “Sometimes I cook dinner and just invite whomever,” she says of her improvised family life. “Everyone helps out a bit with the dogs. It’s a big house. It’s nice to have people around.” Things were stabilizing. Then Gordon was found to have a noninvasive form of breast cancer called DCIS. “I’m fine; it’s literally the best you can have,” she says of her diagnosis, which required a lumpectomy. “I didn’t do radiation or anything, but I was like, Okay, what else is going to happen to me?”

Read more at Elle.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.23.2013
01:45 pm
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Happy Birthday Kim Gordon

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Today is Kim Gordon’s birthday - founder member of Sonic Youth and Free Kitten, producer, actress, designer, director, all round one of the coolest people in rock’n'roll. Here’s a few clips in celebration -  any excuse to post about Kim or Sonic Youth on DM is worth it.

Kim Gordon reads the Riot Grrrl Manifesto
 

 
Kim Gordon talks to Style.com about her label X-Girl, shopping in New York and working with Chloe Sevigny.
 

 
More Kim Gordon after the jump…

Previously on DM:
Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988
More late 80s Sonic youth interviews
‘1991: The Year Punk Broke” Classic alt-rock documentary

READ ON
Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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04.28.2011
04:36 pm
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