Firsties and Faves: Girl Talking with Kim Gordon at the Burger-a-Go-Go
We talked to the art-rock legend about astrology, Plath, and period cramps.
Photo by Alice Baxley
When I met Kim Gordon at the Burger-a-Go-Go, she was wearing a Rodarte jersey and no pants. The long-time Sonic Youth bassist had just performed a mesmerizing art-punk set as Glitterbust, Gordon's new guitars-only two-piece with Alex Knost of Tomorrows Tulips. Named after a song by the experimental noise band Royal Trux, Glitterbust is a scholarly throwback to the pioneering avant-rock scene in which Gordon played a crucial role from the scene's birth in the early 80s to Sonic Youth's mainstream acclaim in the 90s when the bassist became music and fashion's unconventional It Girl with an icy blue stare, husky voice, and impenetrable stage presence. While sipping a drink backstage this weekend in Santa Ana, one leg up against the wall, she's obviously still the Koolest Thing.
Given last year's tell-all memoir Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon has been through her fair share of tough shit. But of course, she wears it well. Even her glitter sneakers look like she's kicked the shit out of a diamond. For years after the break-up of Sonic Youth and her divorce from Thurston Moore, the 80s novelty of being the girl in a male-dominated band for so long seemed to follow Gordon into adulthood, despite multiple side projects and a career in visual art. Interestingly enough, embracing her role as the "girl in a band" is what's allowed her to step out of it. She's still a girl in a band, but it's her band now. I watched her onstage, transfixed as she played the amp with her guitar like it was a wand controlling the feedback. The fact is, Kim Gordon has always been an artist first and a musician second, and as she screamed into the mic from inside a cloud of smoke, all I can think is Thurston who?
As someone known for her esoteric references that are and will always be way too cool for the rest of us, I expected that I wouldn't know any of her answers as I quizzed the no-wave rocker about a few of her firsties and faves. Like, even her favorite chick flick threw me for a loop and I was pretty sure I'd seen all of them. This weekend, we caught up to the perennial badass about bell bottoms, girl crushes, and the zodiac for this special edition of Firsties and Faves.
Glitterbust at the Burger-a-go-go. Photo by Alice Baxley.
First song you learned to play?
Kim Gordon: I think probably some song I made up with Sonic Youth.
First fashion statement?
When I was 12, I was living in Hong Kong. It was an English colony then so there was this one really cool mod store on the island, so I got these red corduroy bell bottoms and these other ones in pink that laced up.
Bell Hooks or Beyoncé?
I actually don't know much Bell Hooks, so...
Waitressing at the House of Pies in West LA.
Favorite girl in a band?
Favorite chick flick?
Courtney Love or Kat Bjelland?
I won't go near that one, but I would say Kathleen Hanna.
Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton?
Oh, Sylvia Plath.
Favorite period remedy?
Advil and magnesium.
Zodiac or Tarot?
First girl crush?
Hayley Mills from The Parent Trap.
LA or NY?
I have to say LA because I just moved here.
First time you realized boys suck?
Sometime in junior high.
I don't have a tattoo.
Favorite riot grrrl band?