"All women are natural anarchists." Kim Gordon
Starting out as a featured player with the short-lived all-female rock band “CKM,” Kim Gordon is widely recognized as the vocalist, bassist, and guitarist of the alternative rock band “Sonic Youth,” which she co-founded with Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo in 1981. With the New York-based band, Gordon has found moderate mainstream success.
Kim also formed a short-lived hardcore band called "Harry Crews" with Sadie May and Lydia Lunch in 1989 and collaborated on “Free Kitten” with "Pussy Galore's” Julie Cafritz, "Boredoms’” Yoshimi P-We, and "Pavement’s” Mark Ibold. With the latter band, she released a handful of albums, EPs, and singles, as well as toured on 1993's Lollapalooza.
Gordon, who was one of VH1's “100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll,” has played with such experimental musicians as William Hooker, Nels Cline, Tom Surgal, Don Dietrich, Christian Marclay and Mission of Burma. She co-produced Courtney Love's band’s record “Pretty on the Inside” (1991) and co-directed The Breeders' "Cannonball" video with Spike Jonze.
A graduate of the Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, Gordon is also an established visual artist and curator. Gordon, who has modeled for Calvin Klein, also runs and designs her own fashion range in Los Angeles called “X-Girl.” Additionally, she has appeared in the films "Last Days" (2005) and "I'm Not There" (2007) and appeared in an episode of "Gilmore Girls."
This 5' 5½" lady rocker has been married to her “Sonic Youth” band member Thurston Moore since 1984 and has one daughter with him.
"I consider myself to be a sloppy feminist." Kim Gordon
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of a seamstress and high school guidance counselor, Kim Althea Gordon was born in Los Angeles, California, on April 28, 1953. When she was 3 years old, Gordon moved with her family to Rochester, New York, but they relocated to Los Angeles the following year so her father, who worked in Ferguson, Missouri, at the time, could take a job with the UCLA sociology department.
After graduating high school, Gordon attended the Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles and earned a degree in fine arts during the early '70s. She also studied at York University in Toronto.
In 1984, Gordon married "Sonic Youth" band member Thurston Moore (born on July 25, 1958). The couple welcomed their first child on July 1, 1994. Their daughter, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore, was named after French fashion designer Coco Chanel and actress Hayley Mills. They currently reside in Northampton, Massachusetts.
A graduate of the Otis College of Art & Design, Kim Gordon began playing in an experimental heavy metal art group while studying at York University in Toronto. Following graduation, she moved to New York and was featured with the short-lived all-female rock band “CKM” with Christine Hahn and Stanton Miranda. Stanton introduced Gordon to singers/guitarists Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, with whom she would later form the alternative rock band “Sonic Youth” in 1981.
Gordon recalled, "As soon as Thurston came up with the name 'Sonic Youth,' a certain sound that was more of what we wanted to do came about."
The newly-formed band was signed by composer and guitarist Glenn Branca as the first act on his record label Neutral Records. They recorded five songs in a studio in New York's Radio City Music Hall in late 1981 and the material was released as a mini LP in March 1982. After the debut LP, which was largely ignored, the band's original drummer, Richard Edson, left for a modestly successful acting career and was replaced by Bob Bert.
“Sonic Youth” embarked on its first tour, a two-week journey through the southern United States, in November 1982, to support the influential post-punk band "Swans." During this time, Bert was fired and replaced by Jim Sclavunos.
In February 1983, “Sonic Youth” released its first full length album, "Confusion Is Sex," which was reissued in 1995 on DGC. The group subsequently set up a two-week tour of Europe, but Sclavunos left after a few months. The band invited Bert to rejoin them and he agreed on the condition that he would not be fired again after the tour's completion. During this time, “Sonic Youth” released an EP called "Kill Yr Idols" in October 1983. It would later be added to the DGC reissue of their 1983 album "Confusion Is Sex."
The band made a disastrous London debut in 1984, where the band's equipment malfunctioned and Moore consequently destroyed the equipment on stage in frustration. However, they received rave notices and became so popular when they returned to New York that they played shows practically every week.
“Sonic Youth” subsequently released a live album, "Sonic Death" (1984), which contains live recordings from 1981 to 1983. Following Gordon's and Moore's marriage, the band released its second studio album, "Bad Moon Rising" (1985), through the New York independent record label Homestead Records. One single was released from the album, "Death Valley '69," which did not chart in either country. While ignored in New York, the album received critical acclaimed in the United Kingdom, where it sold 5,000 copies in six months. "Bad Moon Rising" was later chosen one of the best albums of 1985-1995 and ranked #42 by Alternative Press.
Bert subsequently left the band and was replaced by Steve Shelley. “Sonic Youth” was then signed with influential indie label SST Records in early 1986 and began recording their third studio album, “Evol,” with Martin Bisi in March that year. One single, a radio edit of "Star Power," was released from the album, with "Bubblegum" and an edited "Expressway to Yr. Skull" as B-sides. Now beginning to receive notice from the mainstream music press, "Sonic Youth" released another loose concept album, "Sister," in June 1984 that was re-released in late 1994 on DGC. The album sold 60,000 copies and received positive reviews.
In October 1988, "Sonic Youth" released their fifth studio album, "Daydream Nation," through Enigma in the United States and through Blast First in the United Kingdom. One single, "Teen Age Riot," charted on the Billboard Music Charts in the U.S. and peaked at #20 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album was hailed one of the best albums of the 1980s by such publications as Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, and Pitchfork Media. It's also regarded as a milestone of 1980s underground music.
The following year, in 1989, Gordon, drummer Sadie May and guitarist Lydia Lunch formed a short-lived hardcore wave band called “Harry Crews.” They released the album “Naked in Garden Hills,” a compilation of live recordings at clubs in London, the U.K. and Austria. The band also performed in “Sonic Youth’s” songs “She's In A Bad Mood” and “Teenage Jesus & the Jerks' Orphans.” Gordon was also one of the producers of Courtney Love's band “Hole’s” first record, “Pretty on the Inside” (1991), and co-directed “The Breeders'” "Cannonball" video with Spike Jonze.
As a member of "Sonic Youth," Gordon recorded the band's album "Goo," their first album after the band signed to major label Geffen Records. It was released on June 26, 1990, and a new version was released in 2005. Three songs from the album were released as singles: "Kool Thing," "Disappearer," and "Dirty Boots.”
On July 21, 1992, "Sonic Youth" released the album "Dirty," which was deemed Best Album of 1992 by Entertainment Weekly magazine. It spawned the singles "100%," "Youth Against Fascism," "Sugar Kane," and "Drunken Butterfly." A double-CD deluxe edition of the album was released on March 25, 2003.
After releasing an EP called "TV Shit" with Japanese vocalist Yamatsuka Eye via Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label in 1993, "Sonic Youth" released the album "Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star" on May 10, 1994, during which time Gordon became pregnant with her daughter Coco. The album sold 242,000 copies in the U.S. and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming their highest peak on the U.S. charts to date. The album includes the hit "Bull in the Heather." The song was placed at number 48 on the “50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever” by NME magazine in May 2007.
The mid 1990s saw "Sonic Youth" release the compilation album "Screaming Fields of Sonic Love" and the studio albums "Washing Machine" and "Made in USA.” The band headlined the 1995 Lollapalooza festival and was parodied on “The Simpsons” 1996 episode "Homerpalooza." As for Gordon, she collaborated on “Free Kitten” with "Pussy Galore’s” Julie Cafritz, "Boredoms’” Yoshimi P-We and "Pavement’s” Mark Ibold. They released a handful of albums, EPs, and singles and toured in 1993. Their third and latest studio album, "Inherit," was released by Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label on May 20, 2008. Meanwhile, Gordon also played with many experimental musicians, including William Hooker, Nels Cline, Tom Surgal, Don Dietrich, Christian Marclay and Mission of Burma.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, "Sonic Youth" began releasing a series of experimental and instrumental records on their own Hoboken, New Jersey-based label SYR. The album and track titles, even the liner notes and credits, were in different languages.
In 1998, the band released its twelfth album, "A Thousand Leaves," which yielded the single "Sunday" that was also featured on the soundtrack of the film "subUrbia.” Afterward, they released “SYR4,” a double album of covers of Avant-garde recordings that was subtitled "Goodbye, 20th Century."
Hitting the new millennium, "Sonic Youth" released the album "NYC Ghosts & Flowers," which produced the German released single "Nevermind (What Was It Anyway)." Two years later, the band featured their official fifth member Jim O'Rourke on the album "Murray Street" (2002). That same year, they were also featured in a compilation album by various artists titled "In the Fishtank 9," alongside "Instant Composers Pool" and "The Ex."
On June 8, 2004, "Sonic Youth" released the album "Sonic Nurse," which spun off the singles "Mariah Carey & The Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" (later released as "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream") and "Unmade Bed."
In 2006, "Sonic Youth" released the album "Rather Ripped," which charted at #64 on the U.K. Album Chart and #71 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200. It also charted at #3 in Rolling Stone's “Top 50 Albums of 2006” and included the singles "Rather Ripped Album Sampler," "Helen Lundeberg/Eyeliner," and "Incinerate." Also that year, they released the compilation album "The Destroyed Room: B-sides and Rarities," which produced one single, "Beautiful Plateau." On June 10, 2008, "Sonic Youth" released a compilation album titled "Hits Are for Squares.”
Gordon has also appeared in films and television and was seen in Gus Van Sant's “Last Days” (2005), a fictionalized biopic of one of her close friends, Kurt Cobain. She also appeared with husband Thurston Moore and their daughter Coco in the season six finale of “Gilmore Girls,” playing a cool mom troubadour who performs the song "What a Waste" from the album “Rather Ripped.” She was recently seen in the Todd Haynes directed Oscar nominated biographical film about the life of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, "I'm Not There" (2007), starring Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, and Cate Blanchett.
Gordon, who graduated from the Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, is also an established visual artist and curator. Her work has been exhibited across the U.S., Japan and Europe. She wrote for Artforum and worked for several Soho art galleries. In 1982, she helped put on an exhibition at White Columns gallery, in which Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler were among the participants. She participated in an exhibition titled “Baby Generation” at the Parco gallery in Tokyo in 1996 and an exhibition titled “Kim's Bedroom” was displayed at MU in the Netherlands and included drawings, paintings, live music and special guests. Gordon was also involved in the Her Noise exhibition in London and collaborated with Koether in 2005. Also that year, an artist's book titled “Kim Gordon Chronicles Vol. 1,” which featured photos of Gordon throughout her life, was published. The following year “Kim Gordon Chronicles Vol. 2,” which features her artwork, was released.
Gordon, who has modeled for Calvin Klein, also runs and designs her own clothing line called “X-Girl” in Los Angeles. She recently launched a limited edition fashion line called "Mirror/Dash," inspired by Françoise Hardy, in September 2008.
"I was really into Warhol and pop art and I thought the next step was to actually be working within popular culture." Kim Gordon