Few women define the heights of, then transcend all that Women’s History Month espouses as Kim Gordon.
Arriving on the heels of her first-ever solo album, ‘No Home Record’, Gordon – the epitome of bad a** cool and post-punk vivaciousness – also plays Theater of the Living Arts, March 16, as part of her first ever solo tour.
Having co-founded the art-noise damaged Sonic Youth at the top of the 1980’s would have been enough for any historian, women’s history and beyond (now broken up, the Youth have a new album of rarities out later in March with the release of ‘In/Out/In’). However, since that quartet’s untimely demise in 2011 with Gordon and co-founder Thurston Moore separating after 27 years of marriage, Kim has gone onto a wealth of projects in music, fashion, art, books and film that show off her sense of invention and independence to be its own forceful dynamic.
“If I get stuck on one thing, I’ll work on another thing,” Gordon told GQ magazine about her restless spirit and moving between mediums. “I always like to write, even though I also procrastinate about it. It just depends… Like, maybe I’ll just sit and play my guitar or something. Deadlines help. And then I’m like, okay, I have to focus on this.”
Along with having returned to the visual art world she started in during her entrée into New York City in the 80s with exhibitions of her work in London (2013’s ‘The Show Is Over,’ at Gagosian Gallery) and NYC (‘Design Office with Kim Gordon–Since 1980’), Gordon has done everything from act (HBO’s ‘Girls’, IFC’s ‘Portlandia’, both in 2014, Gus Van Sant’s ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’ in 2018) to pen her raw memoirs, with the New York Times Bestseller, ‘Girl in a Band.’
“I didn’t want to make it about the breakup of my marriage, Gordon told GQ about her ‘Girl in a Band’ autobiography. “It’s part of the story. I wanted it to be interesting. But I kind of feel like I said all I’m going to say about my marriage or whatever in 2015.”
Books, art and film aside, it has been post-punk music where Gordon’s talents have shone loudest and boldest: in duet setting with drummer Ikue Mori from DNA, then her famed “noise guitar project” Body/Head with drummer Bill Nace, as well as her role within the experimental musical group Glitterbust with guitarist Alex Knost.
Of her improvisational music with Nace within Body/Head, Gordon told The Fader that theirs was a pairing based on the power of the current. “Electric guitar and electricity is very visceral… it’s affected by movement in the body, so I guess that’s kind of a starting point—feeling a turbulence in the body.”
For all that noise under banners other than her own, Gordon did not commit to making solo music with her name above the title until ‘No Home Record’. Once there, however, Gordon unleashed a brittle, but bold and truly hungry textural work filled with synthesizer programming and heavy percussion to go with her bolts of guitar, bass and yelping vocals.
On the subject of why she waited nearly 10 years after Sonic Youth broke up to create a solo work with her name across the top, Gordon calls its eventual creation a matter of chance and happenstance.
To GQ, Gordon said, “It just happened. I met Justin (Raisen, the album’s producer and co-composer] a couple of years ago. I was staying in an Airbnb. I guess it was after I finished my book, I hadn’t moved into my house yet. Anyway, he asked me to sing on this other project, and he took leftover stuff and made a loop out of it with a cool drum beat, sort of trashy and punky sounding. That became “Murdered Out.” He was like, if you ever want to do a solo record or whatever, we should do more. It just kind of happened gradually.”
Rather than sound gradual and incremental, ‘No Home Record’ comes at the listener – as does Kim Gordon – all at once. Like a punch in the gut or someone yelling critically in your face.
“The most interesting art to me is always kind of a critique of the culture,” Gordon told The Guardian.
Nothing is more interesting, visceral or cool than Kim Gordon.