WHO IS LE TIGRE?
Le Tigre is Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, and JD Samson.

HOW 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 other’s 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.

HOW 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 too).

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!

WHY 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.

WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU: THE MUSIC OR THE POLITICS?
This question 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.


HOW DID YOU START PLAYING MUSIC?
Jo:
When 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 later.

JD:
When 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!

WHY 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 Tigre.

HOW CAN I GET A MESSAGE TO LE TIGRE?
You can email us at info@letigreworld.com

Or mail us a letter at:
Le Tigre
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.

HOW 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.


WHEN 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.

DO 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.

WHAT 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.

WHO 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.

HOW 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.

HOW CAN I SET UP A SHOW FOR YOU?
Please contact our booking agent if you are interested in promoting a show for Le Tigre.


Please understand 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.

WILL 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 organization.

CAN I INTERVIEW YOU?
Please contact 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!

WHAT IS FEMINISM?
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:

Sisterhood 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 Butler

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 Louise Lamphere

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

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU PLAY?
When pulled 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?

HELP, 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.

HELP, 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.

HELP I WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AND FEEL TOTALLY ALONE!
Kathleen writes about this in the Keep On Living section of this site, click here to read it.

TELL 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!

HOW 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.