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Old 09.24.2006, 02:08 PM   #1
nomowish
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POP MATTERS interview with Kim Gordon
http://www.popmatters.com/music/inte...h-060612.shtml

...when asked about how audience members were responding to new material from the band's album Rather Ripped, she gives a hint at the moat she's dug and the reasons she needs it, when she says, "I try not to think too much about what the audience is thinking and what they think I should do." Why not? "I'd be self-conscious if I did. Anyone becomes mannered if you think too much about what other people think."

...Rather Ripped... closes with "Or", a long, lovely instrumental right up until the end, when Moore intones a series of questions, the final one "Which comes first/The music or the words."

At first I take this to be a jab at journalists (how many times have I asked that question or some variant?), but Gordon says no. "I think it has more to do with being on tour and meeting friends ... You see someone you know, and they say 'Oh, how long's the tour? Where are you going next?'" she says. Of the words/music dichotomy, she ventures, "I thought it was meant to be philosophical."


Gordon says that she was concerned, during the writing and recording process, about the band's new configuration. Rather Ripped is the first Sonic Youth album since NYC Ghosts & Flowers not to include Jim O'Rourke on bass. Gordon started out playing bass in Sonic Youth, but began playing more and more guitar in the 1990s. Now, without an extra bass player, she worried about returning to her old role in the band.

"It's really hard for me to sing and play bass," she says. "Unless you're singing something that's kind of in rhythm with the bass, the melodies, it's just difficult." Gordon also has chronic tendonitis, which makes sustained bass playing painful. "I just think that playing bass, like punk rock bass with a pick, wasn't meant to be done for 25 years," she says, laughing. "Susan Stenger [of Band of Susans] who also plays a lot of repetitive bass stuff, repetitive motion, with a pick. She has the same thing. I think it's very pick-induced."
"I have a really hard time writing my own lyrics for this record, because one, I had to write so many and also I was kind of perplexed by the idea of how I was going to sing and play ... because at that time, we hadn't really thought about asking someone else," she said. (The band has since persuaded Mark Ibold of Pavement and Gordon's side-project Free Kitten to join as touring bassist.) "So I was kind of paralyzed in a certain way."

As a result, many of the songs on Rather Ripped, including those that Gordon sings ("Jams Run Free", "Turquoise Boy") were actually written by Moore. The two of them have worked together in this way in the past, and it's a process that Gordon says she really enjoys. "I like sometimes singing [something] other people wrote, because it kind of gives you more confidence in a certain way. It's a lot like acting," she says. Plus, she explains that Moore has an uncanny ability to shift voices, writing for her voice or sometimes another person altogether. "I like also that he plays around with gender a lot, and that he can write from a woman's point of view or not write from a woman's point of view," she says. " I remember when we did "Plastic Sun" [for Jane magazine]. He wrote the lyrics and everyone was like, 'They sound so angry.' It was almost ironic, that he had written these angry girl lyrics."

Not that their approach to a song is always completely in sync. "For 'Turquoise Boy' Thurston had this melody and he wanted me to sing it like Robert Plant," she recalls. "And I was like, no way I can sing like that. So it ended up being kind of ... I ended up singing it lower. It's kind of a hard song for me to sing."

Lee Ranaldo contributed just one song for Rather Ripped, the menacing and gloriously distorted "Rats". Gordon says that Ranaldo brings a melodic, college-radio-ish sensibility to the band, an approach that can still be heard in the jangly guitars and soaring choruses of this song. However, the song, as it stands, bears the mark of the other SY musicians as well. "When Lee brought that in it was kind of these simple chord changes and Thurston and Steve put this sort of Gang of Four drums and bass on it," Gordon says. And her own contribution? "I get to play, actually, noise guitar on that song," she says.


So it makes sense that Gordon, somewhat detached as she talks about Sonic Youth and its new album, comes to life when she describes the edgy, extra-curricular projects she has recently been involved in. For a recent South London art show called "Her Noise", Gordon and her friend Jutta Koether created an installation that encouraged other people to make music. "I asked my friend Jutta Koether, who is an artist and who has also done music stuff, to paint this big tent, kind of Moroccan shaped tent that I'd had made. We put glitter and black gesso on it, and inside we had set up instruments and I made a song that was just my voice. The idea was that people could play along with it and make a CD, kind of a reverse karaoke," she says.

She is also putting the finishing touches on Perfect Partner, a film she made with Tony Oursler and Phil Morrison, whose script is entirely based on automobile ads. Actor Michael Pitt stars in this skewed road movie, which has been performed live in England and Europe several times. Gordon is re-editing the film, she says to fix the pacing, and preparing for a showing in Monclair, New Jersey. Like many of her other projects, the film incorporates music in an unusual and multi-disciplinary way. "A band plays in the middle between the two screens," she says. "They're doing improv, based on different cues from the movie."
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Old 09.24.2006, 06:02 PM   #2
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Thanks, nomowish. When Kim is being interviewed with the rest of the band, or just with Thurston, she sometimes lets others do the talking. That's a real shame, because when she's on her own she always gives a good interview. I always enjoy reading what she has to say.
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