In light of the recent resuscitation via Twitter of Solange Knowles’s feud with Jon Caramanica, and just to point out that white male critics did not invent coverage of R&B, here, in honor of Throwback Thursday, is my interview with her in Interview magazine, circa 2003. Now if only I could find my even earlier Interview interview with her big sis Beyonce, back when she was in Destiny’s Child.
Tag Archives: beyonce
I’ve always thought of Kathleen Hanna as a philosopher, not just a rad punk artist. She proves it once again in this interview for NPR, where she talks about the perils of outsider elitism and her admiration for Beyonce: “Whenever you’re trying to be the opposite of something, you’re just reinforcing it. We’ve got to be something totally different.”
The occasion for the interview is the release of the Bikini Kill demo tape on Sept. 22 for the first time in multiple formats. I remember getting that tape when I was music editor at the SF Weekly. I can admit now that I didn’t appreciate it that much at the time; I thought they were retreading Mecca Normal and X-Ray Spex, admittedly two of my favorite bands. (That year I named Mecca Normal singer Jean Smith my Person of the Year.) It took seeing them live at Gilman Street Project to realize the true force of Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox, and Billy Boredom. My intern, Sia Michel, was much smarter – I think she might have nabbed that tape. She’s now the editor of the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times — told you she’s smarter than me.
I’m so glad this music is coming back out and a new generation can appreciate it. I’ll be starting my First Year Seminar (Revolution Girl Style: Punk Feminism, Then and Now) next week as I always do: Playing Bikini Kill’s call to action: “We’re Bikini Kill, and we want Revolution Girl Style Now!” Then I’ll go see Kathleen and her new band, The Julie Ruin, at Burger a Go Go.
Three days after Rolling Stone yanked the rug out from under the feet of its own source in a controversial, and deeply problematic, story about rape culture at the University of Virginia, my Riot Grrrl First Year Seminar met for our grand hurrah, a Ladyfest of student presentations. These young women, and one man, amazed me with the intense intimacy of the poems, songs, and critical karaokes they sang, spoke, and shouted in sometimes cracked, sometimes exultant voices. Along with the two Beyonce tributes, some of these bright students on the cusp of independent adulthood shared harrowing stories of family tragedies, battles with illness, and abusive boyfriends. Two of the 17 women spoke about having been sexually assaulted in the past year.
Rolling Stone has long had a female problem. As I discovered more than 20 years ago when I first started writing about women music critics, the magazine has a track record of shutting out female writers. Woman musicians, most notably Joni Mitchell, have repeatedly spoken out about the magazine’s misogyny. The fact that Jann Wenner’s men’s club doesn’t get feminist issues was clear from the hyperbolic, almost pornographic lede of “A Rape on Campus.” But I hoped that maybe this was a turning point for the magazine that, admittedly, I read avidly as a teen, that helped make me want to write revealing portraits of rock stars and smart reviews.
I couldn’t possibly have predicted how completely Stone would botch the job.
The tragedy of the Rolling Stone fiasco is that because of one magazine’s ineptitude, women with real stories like this might not get heard. I heard them the other night, and I honor those who are willing to speak up. It’s more important now than ever.
If you weren’t one of the lucky people who squeezed into the Los Angeles Central Library January 9 for Queens of Noise: Music, Feminism and Punk: Then and Now, you can now see for yourself just how funny and passionate my copanelists Exene Cervenka and Allison Wolfe were. The Aloud series has posted the video on Vimeo. We discuss Pussy Riot, Rock Camp for Girls, Riot Grrrl, Beyonce, the Runaways, and a lot more. If you want a piece of feminist punk history, Exene is selling off many of her earthly possessions at a sale that starts today.
Why do we keep reinventing the wheel? How come every generation of women musicians has to address all over again the confrontation between expression and exploitation, as if a hundred women haven’t gone before them? These were some of the questions raised last night at Queens of Noise: Music, Feminism, and Punk: Then and Now, the Aloud event at the Los Angeles Central Library that I hosted with amazing extra-special guests Exene Cervenka and Allison Wolfe.
Apologies to those who were not able to get in to “the feminist meeting,” as one would-be attendee described the event (according to a colleague). The podcast will be posted next week — and goddess, I hope it goes viral. Of course I’m biased, but, led by an Exene on fire, we addressed crucial issues of the value of and need for women to make themselves heard, not just seen. Riot Grrrl, Rock Camp for Girls, Pussy Riot, the Runaways, X, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Kathleen Hanna, Bratmobile, mentoring, self-esteem, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, books, history, documentation, activism, etc. — these were just some of the issues and topics we addressed in a wide-ranging, cross-generational conversation. The audience asked sharp questions. And Exene sang a song. It was an EPIC night.
Am I the only one who thinks that whole Kanye/Taylor/Beyonce VMAs stunt was staged? I kept expecting Ashton Kutcher to walk out. It all ended too perfectly, with both ladies in their red cocktail dresses. I know Kanye can be an idiot, but even he knows some bounds. Why was Taylor waiting backstage when Beyonce called for her? It’s like the Eminem/Insult Dog brouhaha last year.
I don’t think the Green Day stage takeover was planned though. The bouncers looked annoyed. Loved it if it wasn’t.
Fave performances: Beyonce, Pink, Muse. Yours?