IS LE TIGRE?
Le Tigre is Kathleen Hanna, Johanna
Fateman, and JD Samson.
DID YOU ALL MEET EACH OTHER?
Jo and Kathleen
met in Portland, Oregon about ten years ago at a Bikini
Kill show. Jo thought Kathleen's band was startling and great so she
gave Kathleen her zine (Snarla) after the show. Kathleen's affection for
Jo's writing was so strong that when she moved to Portland during a Bikini
Kill hiatus, she found out where Jo worked and went there to seek her
out. The two became fast friends and stayed in touch for years, finally
ending up together once again in New York. In September of 1999, (after
separately taking note of JD through mutual feminist friends) we ran into
JD while we were on our way to get our photo taken. Sadie introduced us
all, and we stopped on St. Marks for a minute and looked into each others
eyes. Maybe it was the location, maybe it was the planets, but it was
then that our collective subconscious took control and magnetized us to
each other forever. After this magical meeting on the street. The three
of us, (Kathleen, JD, and Johanna) all happened to be at the same Halloween
party in Dumbo, Brooklyn to see our mutual friend, Dasha, play records.
The night was full of all kinds of party drama which led to a creepy and
crowded elevator ride together. We finally ended up on the side of the
street watching two people dressed up as dead Princess Diana and the girl
from Sweet Valley High physically fight over cabs. This was
only the beginning of what we were yet to see together.
DID LE TIGRE START?
We started in 1998, when Kathleen moved to New York. Having just put out
her first solo record, Julie
Ruin, it seemed logical to try and translate that album into a live
show. Not wanting to perform alone, she asked Jo to help her with the
project. (Jo had just bought a sampler and was getting into home recording
Earlier that year Kathleen had gone to Chicago and made a video for the
Julie Ruin song "Aerobicide"
with her friend Sadie Benning. Sadie expressed interest in doing visuals
and/or helping with the music for the live performances Kathleen was planning.
So back in New York, Jo and Kathleen worked hard, trying to re-shape the
Julie Ruin material into a live show, but ended up writing new songs together
instead. They sent cassette tapes of what they were making to Sadie in
Chicago and she visited New York and began working with them on their
new, as-yet-unnamed project. This material ultimately became the first
Le Tigre album.
Because we wanted to have a visual component to accompany our live performance
(and couldn't afford to buy a video projector) we made a slide-show that
had to be manually triggered. Our first show was on a snowy night at a
collectively run queer art/performance space in Brooklyn called Dumba.
The line-up at that time was Kathleen, Jo, & Sadie, with JD Samson
running the slide projector. JD came on tour with the band as the slide
technician/roadie, but it was immediately apparent that she should have
a more active role in the performances. We were already talking about
having her dance and sing back-ups with us on stage when Sadie decided
she didn't want to be in Le Tigre anymore. Since a month long US tour
was already booked and Jo had quit her job to do it, we asked JD if she
would become a full-fledged member of Le Tigre. Luckily she said "yes".
JD added an undeniable flair and charisma to the live show and took to
touring and recording like a fish to water. Since then we have put out
three records and gone on 8 tours, and now we have a video projector and
two crew members to make our team complete: Dusty Lombardo, the best merch-selling
video tech around; and Killer, the sound woman everyone wants to steal!
DID YOU START LE TIGRE?
We wanted to
make a new kind of feminist pop music, something for our community to
dance to. In our scene, the notion of "community" had been so
problematized by postmodern theory and identity politics gone haywire,
that it was easier retreat to irony or purely oppositional self-definitions.
Instead we wanted to be sincere and take risks. For example, it had been
a long-standing dream of Kathleen's to write a song like
"Hot Topic," a celebration of the people who give us strength
as feminists and artists and with Le Tigre, that song finally happened.
MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU: THE MUSIC OR THE POLITICS?
drives us crazy! The music is not separate from our political ideas and
we really can't choose one or the other. We don't think that art or music
can replace political activism, but we think it can be an important part
of a culture of resistance so that social change feels possible. We want
to make great music that radical people can recognize their values in,
because that is what we ourselves crave.
DID YOU START PLAYING MUSIC?
I was a kid, my sister Abby played the violin incredibly well and I took
a stab at the piano and clarinet. I didn't stick with either, but I did
learn how to read music a little bit and now I'm able to figure out chords
and stuff when we are doing covers or trying to re-play samples. My first
pop-music performance was in a lip-synch competition in 5th grade. My
friend Ali Taylor and I did "Head Over Heels" by the GoGos and
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. . . but I didn't
play music in a band until I was in the Troublemakers with Kathleen much
I was in the 5th grade I had a band called '7 in Heaven and a Real Cool
Guy'. We played one song called, "I'm Leaving" over and over
again before school for a few weeks. Other than that I was not really
ever allowed to play music, until I started Classical Guitar lessons when
I turned 15, and played for them myself. This was one of the most important
things that had ever happened to me. I was never in a performing band
until I joined Le Tigre.
Kathleen: In 4th grade me and my best friend Maureen Gaines
tried out for the school play during recess. It was during that audition
that I realized I really loved singing and managed to score the lead.
The play was "Annie" and it was my first big break into show
biz. Unfortunately our school was so low budget AND didn't want to be
perceived as "sexist" by not offering a boy a lead part, so
they combined the play with the musical "Oliver" to disastrous
effect. I ended up being the co-lead in O.W. Phair elementary's production
of AnnieOliver, which was still pretty great. Like JD, I also tried my
hand at classical guitar, again with my buddy Maureen Gaines, but the
boys in the class were such assholes (they laughed really loud during
our twinkle twinkle little star duet) that we quickly abandoned the class.
I didn't really play music again till I was in college and you can read
that exciting story on my herstory page!
ARE YOU CALLED LE TIGRE?
"Le Tigre" was one among many conceptual bands (existing in
name only) dreamed up by Kathleen and Steve Dore in Olympia, WA circa
1994. They also came up with many brilliant song titles such as "13th
Generation Bootleg Snoopy." When we were trying to choose a band
name it resurfaced as an idea, and with Steve's blessing, we became Le
CAN I GET A MESSAGE TO LE TIGRE?
You can email us at email@example.com
mail us a letter at:
51 MacDougal Street, #227
New York, NY 10027
While we read
every single piece of mail that we get and appreciate your support, insight,
and info, it is simply impossible for us to respond to everyone who writes
us! We hope this web site will provide a lot of the information and links
to resources that many of you ask us about in your letters.
CAN I BUY LE TIGRE TOTE BAGS AND OTHER MERCH?
Visit our online
store! You can click the link on our opening page or click here.
ARE YOU COMING TO PLAY A SHOW IN MY TOWN?
We will be touring
extensively to celebrate the release of our new record this fall. All
of our tourdates will be posted immediately on our website as soon as
they are confirmed. If you sign up for our mailing
list we will email you newsletters and updates with tour information
as well. If you have a question about a specific show it is best to contact
the club directly. The club will have up-to-the minute information about
door times, set times, what other bands are playing, ticket availability,
driving directions, curfew info etc.
YOU ALL LIVE TOGETHER?
We often get
asked if the three of us live together in one apartment. The answer is,
no, we just share a mailing address.
ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ME ABOUT GETTING STARTED MAKING ELECTRONIC MUSIC?
Get your hands on a sampler, computer, keyboard, drum-machine, or whatever.
Don't get obsessed with having fancy equipment before you exhaust the
possibilities of what you already have or what you can afford or what
you can get access to. There is no right way to make music and no right
product to buy (check out our gear section
to find out what we started with). Experiments and accidents quite often
result in hot tracks. Reading manuals works for some people who can get
over the math-homework vibe, or for people who enjoy math homework. Just
fill up the bath with bubbles, grab a candy bar, a beverage, and you are
set. If you can find someone cool to give you some help that's probably
the easiest way to get started, but it's not always possible. A lot of
people who know a lot about equipment, or who pose as people who know
a lot about equipment, are condescending dicks who want you to feel stupid
and demoralized because they feel threatened by your superior style and
fresh ideas . Don't let them get you down. Ask for help from someone you
like, or post a question in the appropriate forum at
pinknoises or tape-op.
DOES WHAT IN THE BAND?
Le Tigre is not like a normal band that practices and jams to write new
songs. We all sit in our apartments late at night sampling stuff off records
and writing lists of ideas that we bring to our Le Tigre brainstorm sessions.
The structure of our collaboration varies from song to song with each
of us taking the lead on beat making, lyric writing, video editing, etc
at various times. We each play all different kinds of instruments on stage
and while we are recording in the studio. During our live performance
Jo and JD play most of the keyboard parts, JD triggers samples with drum
pads, Kathleen and Jo play most of the guitar, JD and Jo sing back-up
parts and most of the talking/yelling parts, and Kathleen sings the center-stage,
full-on Annie-style parts.
OLD ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOUR ASTROLOGICAL SIGNS?
JD is 25 and
she is a Leo.
Kathleen is 34 and a Scorpio.
Jo is 29 and Taurus.
CAN I SET UP A SHOW FOR YOU?
our booking agent if you are interested in promoting a show for Le Tigre.
that we have some specific requirements for the venues where we play (having
to do with capacity, sound system, and the ability to project video just
to name a few). It is impossible for us to play every show we are asked
to play, but we really appreciate your suggestions and love playing shows
at new places.
YOU PLAY A BENEFIT I AM ORGANIZING?
We get asked
to play a lot of benefits, as do most bands (especially feminist ones).
So please understand that we can't play them all. In general, it is not
financially possible for us to travel to play a benefit or for us to play
one on tour. The expenses associated with touring are really high, so
it's not as simple as playing a show "for free." However, what
we can often do instead, is help raise awareness around the issue you
are working for or publicize your local benefit event. We welcome activists
to set up information tables at our shows (when possible and appropriate)
and sometimes we can have you make an announcement from stage about what
you are doing (like between bands or if we break a guitar string). If
you want to do something like this you'll have to arrange it in advance
with our tour manager. You
can also request that we add a link from our website to your activist
I INTERVIEW YOU?
our publicist to set up an
interview with us.You can also visit Girlie
Action for our electronic press kit if you want to read other interviews
that we've done. We usually don't do interviews on tour because we are
just too busy, and have other times (like when we are busy in the studio)
that we just can't do them, so please don't take it personally if we are
not doing interviews when you are interested. If you give girlie action
yr info they will get back to you when we have the time and energy to
make the interview worth it!
Well, put a round of martinis in front of us and we'll tell you how we
invented feminism in 1998. Just kidding. This is one of those awful questions
to answer cuz either you sound like a kindergarten teacher or just totally
noncommittal (i.e. "there are as many different kinds of feminisms
as there are feminists"). Obviously we can't represent all feminists
or come up with a definition that can be universally applied, but yes,
of course we proudly identify as feminists. It's also safe to say that
the kind of feminism we are most interested in is the kind that not only
challenges misogyny but also stands against racism, homophobia, class-ism,
imperialism etc....here is a list of some books we like on the subject:
is Powerful Edited by Robin Morgan
Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michelle Wallace
When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in
America by Paula Giddings
In Our Time:Memoir of a Revolution by Susan Brownmiller
What are we Fighting For? Sex, Race, Class and the Future of Feminism
by Joanna Russ
A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story by Elaine Brown
This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga
Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America by Alice Echols
The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firetone
The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
Yours in Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism
and Racism by Elly Bulkin, Minnie Bruce Pratt and Barbara Smith
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
Toward A Black Feminist Criticism by Barbara Smith
How to Suppress Women's Writing by Joanna Russ
Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature by Dorothy Allison
Female Masculinity by Judith Halberstam
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Judith
Technical Difficulties: African American Notes on the State of the Union
by June Jordan
Sexy Bodies: The Strange Carnalities of Feminism by Elizabeth Grosz
and Elspeth Probyn
Woman, Culture, and Society edited by Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and
An Archive of Feelings: Trauma Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures
by Ann Cvetkovich
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century
America by Lillian Faderman
KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU PLAY?
over by the Texas highway patrol searched, and questioned individually,
each member of Le Tigre answered this question (without prior knowledge
of the other responses or hesitation) "we play feminist punk electronic
music." Apparently the questioning officer was satisfied with this
description as we were calmly instructed to throw the remains of the joint
we were carrying by the side of the road, obey the speed limit in Texas
and,in the future, keep all prescription drugs in the original bottle
with the pharmacist's label! We have yet to see our albums appropriately
filed in the FEMINIST PUNK ELECTRONIC section that is so popular at most
record stores, but we can dream can't we?
I AM FEELING SUICIDAL.
If you are feeling suicidal please call 1-800-SUICIDE immediately. We
do not want to lose you. They can connect you with the hopeline, where
there are volunteers specifically trained in LGBT issues if that is of
concern to you you.
I THINK I MIGHT BE LESBIAN/GAY/QUEER/TRANS/BI!
JD: We get a lot of letters from people interested in information about
coming out as queer. Kathleen and I put together a few words for the song,
"Keep on Living" which discusses
both coming out of the closet as a sexual abuse survivor and as queer.
Also look for the nearest glbt center to your town. I did it and it really
helped me with meeting people and talking about all of my coming out issues.
I WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AND FEEL TOTALLY ALONE!
about this in the Keep On Living section
of this site, click here to read it.
ME ABOUT RIOT GRRRL!
We are proud
that Le Tigre is often considered one trajectory of Riot Grrrl, i.e. we
are one art-damaged, deconstructive, performance-art, electronic pop off-shoot
of the grassroots punk feminist organizing and cultural production of
the nineties! This is not to say that Riot Grrrl does not exist anymore
-- we still hear of local chapters that are active -- but the members
of Le Tigre are not personally involved with Riot Grrrl now. (If you are
in a Riot Grrrl group or any feminist group and would like us to link
to yr website please email us.
What is Riot Grrrl? What happened to it? We are asked these questions
all the time and they are really difficult to answer. Many individuals,
bands, zines, artists and scenes were lumped under this term once the
"sexy new" punk feminism gained a little media attention. This
gave the false impression that there was a centralized ideology or leadership
unifying disparate constellations of feminist art and agitation. Journalistic
narratives of Riot Grrrl also tended to isolate it from both a larger
feminist history and from its own cultural moment in which a variety of
media-savvy activist groups were changing the face of social protest (for
example, ACT-UP!, Queer Nation, the Guerilla Girls, and WAC). So while
we would not presume to define Riot Grrrl we can characterize it and make
some observations that reflect our personal experiences (you can read
about Kathleen's involvement with the early Riot Grrrl meetings in DC
in her herstory section).
In the early days of Riot Grrrl, exciting and strange girl bands were
forming and touring, new feminist and queer aesthetics, vocabularies,
and activist strategies were taking root in punk scenes, and intense penpal
alliances were being forged. The founding members of Le Tigre (Kathleen,
Jo, and Sadie Benning) met via their participation in this loose underground
network of like-minded artists.
Riot Grrrl was, in part, a response to male dominated punk/hardcore scenes.
As much as it reacted to and critiqued certain masculinist values and
structures of punk rock, it was intrinsically connected to the DIY, anti-corporate,
anti-capitalist values of those underground scenes (as well as intertwined
socially and aesthetically with them). The way that punk music mocked
notions of rock 'n' roll virtuosity and traditional stardom, the bands
that were associated with early Riot Grrrl questioned the posturing and
conventions of a boy-ruled punk scene by making stripped down punk music
paired with feminist subject matter and performance strategies. Riot Grrrl
meetings were similar to the feminist consciousness-raising groups of
the 70's. Mixed in with the practical work associated with making and
distributing zines, promoting shows, organizing conventions, and doing
activism, there was much discussion of women's experiences of sexism,
sexual abuse, assault and harassment, body-image, queer identities, and
how all of these things intersect with class and race.
Riot Grrrl is/was not without its flaws, failures, inadequacies and dramas
which we shall not enumerate here. But for whatever it's worth, Riot Grrrl
as a cultural phenomenon did, and hopefully will continue to make changes
in the popular discourse surrounding "women in rock" (or whatever
you wanna call it), and has created a lasting international network of
feminist promoters, labels, writers, dj's, journalists, musicians, artists,
and fans so that a freaky band like Le Tigre could exist, make records,
tour, and stay up all night writing crazy shit for our website!
CAN I GET MY HANDS ON A COPY OF ONE OF KATHLEEN'S OR JO'S OLD ZINES?
Sorry, all of
our zines are out of print and we cannot send you any. Please do not send
us any money for zines. The money will not be returned, JD will buy a
slice of pizza or reeses pieces with it.