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Never before seen photos of Sleater-Kinney


 
The turn-of-the-‘90s rock underground underwent an intense and desperately overdue conversation about the paucity of women on that scene, and the not-so-hot treatment of those who were there. Despite the inarguably crucial contributions of Siouxsie, Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Exene Cervenka, the Slits, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon, and on and on and on, that scene was still largely the tribal domain of amped-up dudebros and snobby, kissless record collector boys, so women in bands got catcalled, and women who dared to brave the mosh pits were typically “rewarded” by being groped or worse.

Of course, the obvious rejoinder to the complaint that there weren’t enough women on the scene was “so start a band.” And holy shit, did young women ever do so in droves. The early ‘90s saw an explosion in female-led, female-dominated, and entirely female bands, most notably in the Riot Grrrl movement, which grafted then-nascent third wave feminism and queer theory onto punk’s who-needs-virtuosity ethos, resulting in some of the era’s most politically charged and musically potent rock. That outburst had a bland mainstream counterpart in the whole Lilith Fair trip, but Joan Osborne and her fake-ass nose ring never delivered anything like the visceral and cerebral thrills of Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and the Riot Grrrl band that found the widest audience, Sleater-Kinney.
 

 
Sleater-Kinney was formed in Olympia, WA by Corin Tucker of the ur-Riot Grrrl band Heavens to Betsey, and Excuse 17 guitarist Carrie Brownstein, now surely much better known for IFC’s hipster-poking sketch comedy series Portlandia. Their first three albums made them critical darlings, but 1997’s Dig Me Out is an undisputed classic, and was their first with drummer Janet Weiss, of the excellent and still active band Quasi. Four more albums followed, all of high quality—for what it’s worth, I’m most partial to One Beat—and in 2001, no less a monster of crit than Greil Marcus called S-K “America’s best rock band” in Time Magazine. Sleater-Kinney went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2006. Two and a half years ago, Brownstein told DIY Mag that Sleater-Kinney would play together again, but that again was two and a half years ago. In the meantime, the band’s members have played in Wild Flag and the Corin Tucker Band.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sleater-Kinney’s formation, Sub-Pop is releasing a posh, limited box set called Start Together, containing all seven Sleater-Kinney LPs on colored vinyl (they’ll also be available separately on CD and plain old unspectacular non-showoffy puritanical black vinyl). Unfortunately there’s no rarities disc, but the set will come with a hardcover book containing scads of never before seen photos culled from the band members’ personal archives. Dangerous Minds was given a few of them to share with you.
 

 

 

 

 
Here’s something not enough people have seen—it’s Sleater-Kinney’s segment in Justin Mitchell’s 2001 documentary on D.I.Y. bands Songs For Cassavetes. The footage was shot in the Dig Me Out era, and includes live performances of the songs “Words & Guitar” and “Stay Where You Are,” plus some terrific interview footage.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Incredible unpublished 1995 interview with Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna
06.11.2014
09:42 am

Topics:
Feminism
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Riot Grrrl
Zines
Kathleen Hanna

kathleen h singing
 
I stumbled across a box of old correspondence recently and found a few forgotten letters from Kathleen Hanna, singer for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin, from almost two decades ago. I vaguely remember sending her an embarrassing number of interview questions for a fly-by-night zine and, to my shock, she responded. She typed a lot of her answers on an honest-to-God typewriter. Unfortunately the zine stopped being produced and this interview didn’t see the light of day…until now.

Kathleen’s support for aspiring young female writers and musicians cannot be overstated. She was the riot grrrl movement’s big sister, muse, and fairy godmother. Bikini Kill wasn’t exactly raking in a ton of money, but she still bought zines from riot grrrls all over the world.

Not only that, she was amazing at introducing girls and building a support network. She asked me to suss out a nearby midwestern college town’s LGBT community for a dyke friend of hers who was moving there to teach at a small conservative university with no out faculty members or LGBT student organizations whatsoever. How could I say “No” to the amazing Kathleen? I was pregnant, prostrate with endless, debilitating morning sickness, unable to look at a computer screen without throwing up, but you bet your ass I still called around, researched, and compiled twenty pages of notes for her to pass along to her professor friend.
 
kathleen zine
 

Q: What was the best show you’ve ever played? What was the worst? And why?

Kathleen Hanna: BEST SHOWS ARE ALWAYS IN MINOT because the kids are spazzy and don’t care about cool….also some of our first shows in Olympia meant a lot to me just because we met w/so much opposition and our friends supported us…...oh yeah, our show in Richmond about a year ½ ago where my sister sang rebel girl & demirep with us and when the bass amp broke she did an acapella medley of songs we used to sing a long to (like on the family record player) and it just about broke my heart. My sister is actually an amazing singer and performer, Imean, I always knew she could sing, cuz we learned together by mimicing records, but I didn’t know what a performer she was till that nite.

Q: What was the stupidest remark any music store clerk has ever made to you?

KH: Okay, both these come from the same guy. 1. I was asking if I could sell my fanzine/writing thing and he said he wouldn’t sell it cuz it didn’t have anything to do with music and I should come back after I write something about my groupie experiences or something. 2. After living in the same town for like 7 years and being in tons of bands, putting on shows, putting out writing, etc….the same guy comes up to me when I’m reading a comic book in his store (incidentally he sold the comic book even thouggh IT had nothing [to] do with music) and starts telling me what a great guy the dude who made the comic is and he used to be in this local band blah blah blah, what he didn’t know is I wrote the comic I was looking at and went out with the dude (asshole) he was talking about for like two years. Duh.

Q: Do you think that there are more or fewer young women these days who fall into the “I’m not a feminist, but…” category than there were five years ago? Why?

KH: I really don’t know, I can’t answer that one.
 
bikinikill
 

Q: What are your thoughts on the following feminist theorists and writers:

a) Andrea Dworkin

KH:  saw her give a lecture. Went up and told her I felt erased by everything she said because I “am a feminist AND a sex worker”. She totally condescended to me and told me i’d pay for what I’d done for the rest of my life. She also lied and said that COYOTE, an organization by and for women who work as prostitutes was not happeneing at all anymore and trashed its founder, Margo St.James, and acted like there were No organizations by and for sex workers in existence (which is and was a total fucking lie) She also believes (or at least she did at this lecture a few years back) that feminists should work with law enforcement agencies which is just fucking stewpid…..and was in support of a bill/legislation (it passed) in WA state that made it so all sex workers (dancers/models/and other legal sex work situations and women who’d been arrested for prostitution) have to register with the police and pay a $75 dollar liscensing fee(obviously this is for legal sex professions) and get fingerprinted.  THIS IS TOTALLY FUCKED UP AND CLASSIST and bogus because it makes it so poor women have to come up with the same 75 dollars as middle class/rich ones would PLUS if you are in a jam because of domestic violence, or whatever and you need a job that pays cash quick, like dancing, say but they make you pay this fee…I mean, who can afford it. I could go on and on. My main problem is that she thinks she can speak for all of us (sex workers and women in general) and she can’t. She’s also totally mean. BUT some of her writing is interesting even though shes full of shit.

b) Germaine Greer

KH: I know about her but am not really familiar with her work.

c) Susan Faludi

KH: I liked backlash, it was sorta like pulp novel reading for feminist theory heads and seemed good, just in general, but I already knew sexism existed.

d) Mary Daly

KH: Shes like an ecofeminist and that shit scares me. I’m sure I’ll read her someday but I really hate the idea that women are more nurturing/close to the earth than men or something…...I think its stewpid and strategically flawed.

e) Naomi Wolf

KH: I read The Beauty Myth, and while it was interesting on some levels, like the idea of beauty being “the third shift” for women, I hated how she kept playing white women against Men and Women of Color, like how she’d be all like (this is not a direct quote) “No employer would expect an African American to do blah blah blah, so why do they expect women to do blah blah blah…” I mean, that shits just stewpid cuz Naomi Wolf doesn’t know jack about whatever any individual African American male OR female has to deal with in terms of employment, and also she would act like all women are white over and over and over and, well, it just so annoying and dumb that I stopped reading it, so whatever.

f) bell hooks

KH: I think bell hooks is one of the most important and creative scholars around. I’ve read almost all her stuff and cant wait till she puts out some fiction ( maybe she has and I don’t know?) Anyways, yeah, I could go on and on. I like studying her writing style because it seems really fluid and effortless even though she is explaining very difficult/complex ideas that are operating on several different levels, usually in a way that both academics and non-academics can understand.
 
kathleenint
 
Q: What do you think of the anti-feminist writers such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Paglia?

KH: I haven’t read them because I don’t feel like it. I have heard stories though and it makes me think that, you know, while some of their ideas maybe interesting, MEN tend to tokenize any woman who says anything that sounds at all, even remotely anti-feminist, and then this whole duality thing starts happening where no one really pays attention to their work anymore. Men just use Them to make women who disagree with them feel like shit…….and then certain feminists dismiss them altogether as male identified. Actually, I think that whole phenomenon is probably more interesting then some of these ladies ideas, but I don’t know, like I said I haven’t read them. I’d like to see more writing by feminists about Tokenization, specifically how it functions in different feminist contexts.

Q: What is your opinion of misogynist FEMALE musicians who insist on bashing other women and not supporting them?

KH: Courtney is boring. I am not interested in her.

Q: What is your favorite piece of musical equipment?

KH: My mouth.

Q: Last two books read?

KH: BE MY BABY by Ronnie Spector. Baudellair Live, Interviews with Baud. edited by Mike Gane

More delightfully outspoken opinions from Hanna, including what rock star might be a candidate for getting “beaten senseless with a brick” after the jump…..

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Fascinating document of a 1996 Portland Riot Grrrl convention, with a very young Miranda July


Little girl interacting with a piece from Miranda July’s outdoor exhibit, Eleven Heavy Things
 
Despite an early interest in both feminism and punk rock, Riot Grrrl never really appealed to me. I was in elementary school in the mid-90s—during the height of the Riot Grrrl zeitgeist—and while the aesthetic and mission statement certainly captured my snarling little heart, music was always my primary interest, and I just never found a Riot Grrrl band that really blew me away. My young ears suffered no dearth of chanteuses, of course. I just got my girl power from Joan Jett, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, and those goddesses of mid-90s top 40 radio,TLC.

Still, I owe a debt to those women, and I can’t deny the legacy, especially when I come across great artifacts like this DIY documentary from a 1996 Riot Grrrl convention in Portland, Oregon. Organized by a smiling mohawked young woman named Geneva, the event was intended to foster a women’s community, make friends, and, she coyly admits, “I also needed a girlfriend.” (Let’s be honest, the prospect of romance has always been half the appeal of a good show.)

Though it boasts the production values of a decomposing home movie, the documentary is artfully edited, recording a wide array of performances, workshops, and interactions. It’s far more than a dredge of amateur bands, and the music line-up is surprisingly diverse—a two-girl group with an upright bass and a cello really stand out. The workshops were not only instructive, they encouraged women to create “out loud.” During a writing class, the teacher self-effacingly admits to a passion for the work of noted misogynist Charles Bukowski—there was clearly little to no pressure to maintain a “feminist cultural purity.” During a “basics” course on starting a band, a woman demonstrates all the instruments and identifies their parts. She even gives some sound advice on how not to get ripped off by music shops who might try and overcharge a woman. There’s poetry and avant garde performance and the introduction of the now legendary Free to Fight, the ambitious double LP concept album themed on violence against women. The record included a 75 page illustrated booklet with poetry, stories and advice—socialist feminist writer bell hooks even contributed.

I think the most impressive part of the event is how much fun everyone is having. Bands joke and banter onstage, making politically incorrect jokes about sexual orientation and gender. There’s self-defense demonstrations where nervous giggles from the audience grow into raucous laughter. The mood feels decidedly warm and easy-going throughout, with none of the humorless gravity one might associate with such serious subjects.

Those familiar with the Riot Grrrl scene might recognize a few of the musicians, but for me, the real Easter Egg is a very young Miranda July, doing a strange short performance piece, and using some of her own interview structure to contribute to the documentary. To be honest, not a lot of July’s work resonates with me—I think on some level I also avoid connecting with it, feeling foolish at the prospect of enjoying something so “dear.” For me, distorted guitars and screaming “fuck you” into a microphone has always been the accessible part of the Riot Grrrl arsenal.

But once in a while I see a Miranda July piece like the sculpture above and I’m floored by such honest vulnerability. And I remember there’s a less bombastic dimension to the Riot Grrrl legacy—something brave, but subtle. And I’m so grateful it happened.

And if that’s too dear for you, well… fuck you.
 

 
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Dirty Girls’: 13-year-old riot grrrls don’t give a shit what you think of them, 1996
03.08.2013
10:35 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism
Heroes
Punk

Tags:
feminism
Riot Grrrl
Zines


 
Fascinating amateur documentary about some spirited and independent-thinking 13-year-old riot grrls who publish their own ‘zine. They’re the outcasts of the school and they just don’t give a shit.

When you meet their classmates, it’s easy to understand why…

Everyone in the schoolyard held strong opinions about these so-called “dirty girls,” and meanwhile the “dirty girls” themselves aimed to get their message across by distributing their zine across campus.

This was posted on YouTube just a few days ago and hasn’t had too many views yet. I wonder if these girls—well, they’ll be nearing their thirties now—have seen it?

If I was one of these self-possessed young women, I think I’d watch this today—it’s International Women’s Day, of course—with great pride. I wonder what became of them?

Shot in 1996 by Michael Lucid, when he himself was a high school student, and finished in 2000.
 

 
Via World of Wonder

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Riots Not Diets: exclusive video premiere from London’s Covergirl


 
Covergirl are part of a new wave of politically-minded, queer/gay/femme/whatever-core bands that are popping up all over the UK (and the world, in fact) and sowing the seeds of a new, healthy, d.i.y. underground scene.

Covergirl take their musical cues in part from post-punk and post-disco, mixing up raw guitars and wailing synths with insistent, driving rhythms. Their outlook comes from Riot Grrrl, punk 7"s and zine-culture, but by way of the no-budget-yet-glamorous catwalking of RuPaul and the queens of Paris Is Burning. Their name, in fact, comes from a RuPaul song, but don’t let that fool you. The band has more in common with the ripped-up-punk-drag of RuPaul 25 years ago than it does with today’s polished TV host. 

I was lucky enough to catch Covergirl live in London a few months ago (when they bizarrely asked Joyce D’Vision to open for them) and can report back that they are blinding. Now Dangerous Minds is lucky enough to get a world exclusive from the band, the premiere of their new video “Ice Father Nation”. On top of which, I sent Covergirl’s co-leader Andrew Milk some questions to get his head around for our readers:

Describe Covergirl to me in a dozen words or less:

A post-punk-party band. Serious about having fun.

What was the inspiration to form the band and when did you start?

I think we started in 2010, I guess spurred on by our other bands having recently broken up or being on hiatus at the time and wanting to do something new.

Can you tell me a bit more about Tuff Enuff, the label this is coming out on?

‘Tuff Enuff Records’ has appeared out of the Riots Not Diets collective in Brighton. Our friend Toby runs it and puts on awesome gigs/film screenings and more! ‘Ice Father Nation’ is taken from their first ever release, “Why Diet When You Can Riot”, a compilation 12”. I’m sure they have plans to release more. their website says ‘descended from Irrk’  - which is a legendary, but little known queer/feminist record label some amazing people ran in the early/mid-Noughties. Serious pedigree!

Who else is featured on the release?

Halo Halo, Ste McCabe, Skinny Girl Diet - so many amazing bands, you can check them all out on the bandcamp page.

I’ve heard a lot about Power Lunches, the venue featured in the video - can you tell me more about it?

It’s an independent venue in East London, run by a pal of ours. She’s a musician and wanted a space that worked as an affordable practice room/gig venue where you could get great and healthy food instead of the usual things you’d eat as a cash strapped musician (crisps and a Tesco sandwich.) A pretty specific dream, but what’s the point of putting the hard slog in if it’s not for something you’d really want for yourself? it’s a cafe/bar upstairs and an ‘intimate’ sweat box of a venue downstairs. Lots of bands and promoters have got behind it which is great. it’s our home away from home.

And how is the East London scene in general at the moment? How are the Olympics going down there?

The Olympics are weirdly not affecting us that much, it does feel a little quiet but i think that always happens this time of year, people stay out, drinking in parks, not putting on or going to gigs. Also i think the same amount of people left London as have come in… So if you’re not in the vicinity of the Olympic Village or whatever, it’s pretty empty. The weirdest thing is being able to see this nuclear glow covering Stratford from the balcony of my flat.

Thanks, Andrew!

Andrew also runs the rather fine Milk Records, who have released music by Woolf, Trash Kit, Ultimate Thrush and the mighty Divorce. You can check Milk Records here, but in the meantime, here’s the video for Covergirl’s “Ice Father Nation”:
 

 
You can connect with Covergirl on Facebook here. You can listen to, and pre-order (if it’s not sold out) the Why Diet When You Can Riot LP at the Riots Not Diets bandcamp page.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Don’t Need You - The Herstory of Riot Grrrl documentary


 
As an introduction to a brief but important music movement, or even just a simple nostalgia piece for people who were around at the time, Kerri Koch’s 2006 documentary Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl makes for interesting and compelling viewing.

For a brief while in the early 90s it seemed Riot Grrrl was everywhere. It was a breath of fresh air in the male-dominated grunge landscape, though some of those grunge bands did their best to promote it and more pro-feminist ideals (the ghost of Kurt looms into view in a flowing, floral-print dress). But Riot Grrrl was met mostly with derision in the mainstream media, what with its core values of fanzines and localised press, not to mention of course feminism, self-expression and the forcing through of female self-determination in a male-oriented world.

Looking back now It’s hard to believe how much of an uproar some female musicians simply being angry could cause, but then as has been mentioned numerous times no-one wants to see women being angry (supposedly). Pretty soon Riot Grrrl was reduced to a simple concept of being merely “angry girls”, and made easy to dismiss. UK Riot Grrrl contingent Huggy Bear famously got ejected from the studios of tacky yoof program The Word (on which they had just performed) for heckling the presenters about their Barbie doll-imitating porn star guests. This got the band into the national media, but also sealed their fate as mere rabble-rousers while ignoring their efforts to create alternative spaces and dialogs. But still, Riot Grrrl was oppositional, it was dramatic, and it was fucking exciting. 

Just as quickly as it bubbled up however, Riot Grrrl seemed to fizzle out. I guess my perception of this was skewed hugely by the mainstream UK music press, which was my only port of access to alternative music and culture in those pre-internet days. It was a mutual love/hate thing (more hate/hate I guess) with the performers and the scene itself withdrawing from the mainstream attention and the negative associations it brought. In a very interesting read called Riot Grrrl - the collected interviews on Collpase Board, Everett True (the editor of Melody Maker at the time, and the person chiefly responsible for breaking the scene in the UK music media) explains his own role and that of the press:

Riot Grrrl was basically about female empowerment – females doing stuff on their own terms, separate from men, making up their own rules and systems and cultures. Sure, men were welcome, but they had to understand that for once they weren’t going to be automatically given first place. (One of the reasons my own role in the gestation of Riot Grrrl as a popular cultural movement became so confused was that after a certain period of time I began to listen to those around me – female musicians, activists, artists, human beings – who felt that having such a high-profile male associated with a fledgling female movement was absolutely counter-productive. This is almost the first time I’ve spoken to anyone since then.)

Don’t Need You - The Herstory of Riot Grrrl is important because it lets the creators of the movement speak for themselves. The editing may be rough in places, and the story may jump around in chronology a wee bit, but you get to hear first hand from the original Riot Grrrls themselves what informed their third-wave feminist views and what inspired them to start their own scene. Featured interviewees include Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Alison Wolfe of Bratmobile, Corin Tucker of Heavens To Betsy / Sleatter-Kinney and Fugazi’s Ian McKaye:
 


 
That’s part one - part two and part three are after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Cornershop return with ‘Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove Of’ ft Bubbley Kaur
04.01.2011
09:01 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Riot Grrrl
Britpop
Asian
Bubbley Kaur
Cornershop

image
 
Cornershop are back, with a new album Cornershop and The Double O Groove Of, and a strangely hypnotic video of young men getting their hair cut for the track “Supercomputed”. The album has been 6 years in the making, with funds being cobbled together via the website Pledgemusic (even though the band self-released the album Judy Sucks On A Lemon in 2009).

Cornershop and The Double O Groove Of
is a collaboration with the Preston-based Punjabi singer Bubbley Kaur, who takes the lead vocal on most tracks, and has never made an appearance on record before (bar the 2004 Cornershop single “Topknot/Natch”). This seems quite incredible as she is a great find. And according to music biz legend, it never would have happened were it nor for the interjections of a friendly London cab driver. Cor blimey guvnor!

Cornershop ft Bubbley Kaur - “Supercomputed”
 

 
Cornershop ft Bubbley Kaur - “Topknot”
 

 
Cornershop ft Bubbley Kaur - “Don’t Shake It”
 

 

It’s hard to fathom that his band have been around for twenty years now. I first remember hearing about them back in 1992, when they were then associated with the British arm of the Riot Grrrl movement, and openly took on Morrissey for the sentiment of tracks like “Bengali In Platforms”. It thrilled me that a bunch of young Asian men would adopt as their name the most hackneyed stereotype of Asian people then going. While their Riot Grrrl contemporaries faded away, Cornershop have stayed the course, finding commercial success later in the decade and critical acclaim with their dance side-project Clinton - even though they have been lumped i with various scenes over the years they have risen above it all. I have recently begun to compile a top ten list of great British guitar bands from the 1990s that excludes Britpop acts - Cornershop are definitely on that list.

Cornershop and The Double ‘O’ Sound Of is available to buy from Amazon. More info on Cornershop at their official website.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment