Kim Gordon is blazing another new trail as a touring singer
There are few creative things Kim Gordon hasn’t done over the years: She’s exhibited visual art, made videos and written the memoir “Girl in a Band.” She played for three decades in the groundbreaking band Sonic Youth and watched it fall apart. One of the only things she’s never done is play at a club under her own name.
That will change on Sunday, when she kicks off a long-delayed tour behind her debut solo album, “No Home Record,” at Paradise. The new songs depart from Sonic Youth’s sound with a heavier electronic pulse, but his cool singing/speaking voice is instantly familiar. And she performs mainly as a singer, without her usual guitar and bass.
How does she feel?
“Anxious,” she replied this week from her West Coast home. “It was good to do the Pitchfork festival (last fall). It was like, ‘Yeah, that’s fun. I forgot that I can still do it after two years. So I hope everything will be fine. »
She says she’s done her best to stay creative during the pandemic.
“For a while I was just reviewing Antonioni films. Then I started working in the art studio, making a film for a biennale in South Korea. But it was hard to understand why I wanted to doing anything, given the significance of it all; and it wasn’t something I wanted to get deeply philosophical about. I usually like to work at something, whether it’s a concert or an art exhibition. art. So it was a really interesting time to wade through.
Sonic Youth came to an abrupt end in 2013, towards the end of Gordon and guitarist Thurston Moore’s marriage. For her, it was partly a cue to branch out into other art forms.
“I don’t think any of us thought Sonic Youth could go on forever. But it was also a trauma. No more income, and do I need to get a job now?”
Few bands have since moved into Sonic Youth territory to bridge the gap between experimental songwriter music and aggressive punk.
“I hear our influence here and there, but it seems like things went better. I would say Radiohead‘s influence turned out to be bigger than Sonic Youth’s.
Gordon went in a more experimental direction later, forming the guitar/vocal duo Body/Head with Bill Nace (who would open the solo show Paradise). The idea for a solo album only came to her when she met producer Justin Raisen, whose diverse resume includes names like David Bowie, Sharon Van Etten and Lizzo.
“What he brought was structure. I felt like I could go pretty far with my lyrics, and anything I brought to him, he could turn into a song. We have a similar sensibility and I think he shares my love of trashy things, damaged digital sounds. I drew on some influence from early “no wave” music, people like Arto Lindsay and Mark E. Smith, as well as what I learned from being in Sonic Youth. There’s a certain feeling to the record of seeing things around you disintegrate.
She also moved from Northampton, where she raised her daughter, to her hometown of Los Angeles; and the sense of dislocation informs many songs. The single “Sketch Artist” is accompanied by a haunting video depicting a dark ride through downtown Los Angeles. According to Gordon, this is partly a commentary on homelessness.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m appropriating them, but when you’re in LA, you can’t help but see all these homeless people in tents and sleeping at bus stops. I was kind of trying to feel the humanity of this person. There’s so much going on in the world that it’s a matter of what you can take, and something like being homeless is normalizing.
The current tour is strictly for new material, without old Sonic Youth.
“They’re not banned, but I can’t imagine why I’d want to play a Sonic Youth song. I have no idea what guitar chords Thurston and Lee were playing and besides, I’ve been doing them for so long. of years.