“I am keeping a journal, similar to what Taylor Swift does,” Kim Gordon discusses her thoughts on TikTok, being a mother, and her intimate new album.

“I am keeping a journal, similar to what Taylor Swift does,” Kim Gordon discusses her thoughts on TikTok, being a mother, and her intimate new album.


The Daft Hunks, a pair of YouTube personalities in their twenties, do not provide traditional music reviews. Instead, they share their reactions to songs in real time. In one of their most popular videos, they listen to Olivia Rodrigo and Lana Del Rey. In their latest video, they watch and react to Kim Gordon’s new single. One of the Hunks comments on Gordon’s age, noting that she is 70 years old and still creating music. The other Hunk agrees, saying it is impressive.

They begin playing Gordon’s new single, Bye Bye, its dread-inducing hip-hop beats scraping against each other as Gordon intones a scribbled to-do list. “Buy a suitcase, pants to the cleaner,” Gordon raps threateningly. “Call the vet, call the groomer.”

The Hunk members are feeling distressed. One of them screams “No way!” and raises his fists in the air as if he were in a hip-hop music video. He exclaims, “It’s exactly like Playboi Carti!” referring to the similarity of the song to something the 27-year-old trap rapper might produce.

Other individuals also share this sentiment, such as Anthony Fantano, the most prominent music critic on YouTube, who states, “Kim Gordon is creating trap anthems about packing for a trip that are more intense than you can imagine.” On TikTok, young people are recording themselves packing according to Gordon’s recommendations, which include items like sleeping pills, sneakers, and boots, delivered in a melancholic tone. Despite being in the music industry for over 40 years, Gordon has gained popularity with her viral track.

She is unconcerned about the dark direction of her music, which started with her 2019 solo album No Home Record but is now solidified on her latest release, The Collective. The album is filled with spoken word notes and emotionally-charged industrial beats. When asked about the intensity and dissonance of her music, she reflects on how it reflects real life. She didn’t set out to make an abrasive record, but rather one that is authentic.

Can you explain the inspiration behind her lyrics, which are in a clipped and present tense style and scattered throughout the album like a collage rather than forming a cohesive story? Were they taken from personal diaries? “Well, I do journal, kind of like Taylor Swift,” she admits with a smirk. “But my writing isn’t about sad topics. Well, maybe a little sadness. There’s just something so impactful about that type of writing. It’s something you can create in the moment.”

We meet somewhat awkwardly at the Karma art bookstore in Manhattan’s East Village (there are no chairs so we sit alongside each other in the front window display). It’s a location selected because Gordon is publishing a book with them next month, a compilation of her late brother Keller’s notebooks. He was also journalling, in a way, Gordon points out. Keller was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after leaving college and spent much of his life needing professional care. He died last year.

According to Gordon, he was an expert in Shakespeare and classical literature and also wrote sonnets. He had notebooks containing his poetry, although they are difficult to read, they are still aesthetically pleasing with their intricate writing style. Some words that can be deciphered include “Adonis”, “Venus”, and Greek references. This was a tribute to the person as he was never able to fully reach his potential. The intention was to create something that honored him.

Gordon is trying to shift the focus away from her private life, specifically the parts of her book Girl in a Band where she exposes the dishonesty, demands, and insincere commitments that caused her marriage to her Sonic Youth bandmate Thurston Moore to fall apart. Despite celebrating her brother, Gordon is not interested in discussing this aspect of her personal history.

“I am feeling a bit annoyed by the article in the London Times that was recently published about me, as the subtitle focused on infidelity. It appears that the writer was solely interested in finding negative information. However, that topic is completely irrelevant and outdated for me.”

Due to this particular article, Gordon, who identifies as an introvert, tends to be more quiet when discussions revolve around herself. However, she speaks with a strong passion when discussing her job, as well as concerns about Trump’s views on climate change (“The most alarming aspect of a second term is his stance on climate”) and the reactions to the conflict in Gaza (“It has caused a divide in New York; the left has never been so divided”). She also shared her preferred podcasts, including Breaking Points, a news program that features debates between individuals from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum.

Gordon as part of Sonic Youth in 1993 View image in fullscreen

I inquire about her experience in New York, a city that she has become a significant part of. After completing her studies at an art school in Los Angeles, Gordon relocated to Manhattan in 1980. Initially, she engaged in DIY art projects in her friends’ apartments before becoming fascinated with the downtown No Wave music scene. She eventually met Moore and Lee Ranaldo and together formed Sonic Youth. It was in New York where the band produced Daydream Nation, a groundbreaking punk rock album that Pitchfork hailed as the greatest of the 1980s for its unique blend of noise and songwriting. It was also in New York where she received a letter and a Hello Kitty hair clip from Courtney Love, desperately asking Gordon to produce Hole’s debut album. Today, there are guided walking tours in New York that showcase the places where Sonic Youth lived, rehearsed, and performed, cementing the band’s association with a specific idea of the city.

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She expresses her fondness for returning to this place, as it maintains its vibrant atmosphere. It gives the illusion of productivity, even when one isn’t actively accomplishing tasks. However, she acknowledges that there have been significant changes since she first arrived. Back then, the city had recently declared bankruptcy and the outlook was quite grim. Nowadays, the downtown area resembles a large commercial center, with a more corporate feel.

After getting divorced, Gordon considered relocating to New York from Massachusetts where she lived with Moore and their daughter. However, she was not keen on dealing with the high cost of living and fast-paced lifestyle. Instead, she decided to return to Los Angeles, where she spent most of her childhood. This was a difficult choice for her. In her memoir, Gordon describes California as a place where people are drawn to escape their fears and desires. The theme of feeling stuck on the outside of a potential apocalypse on the west coast is prevalent throughout The Collective. In one song, Psychedelic Orgasm, she depicts an acid trip where she wanders the city and collects potatoes for $20 each.

Gordon in her home in LA.

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She claims that in the past, individuals relocated to the western part of the country as a form of escapism. However, this trend is now being commercialized with the rise of marijuana shops and the increased use of drugs and psychedelics. Perhaps California has become synonymous with the ideal escape, as it represents moving towards the horizon.

Is it a source of relief for her? How does it feel to return to your hometown as an unmarried individual in your sixties? She becomes tense. “It’s strange. I feel comfortable in my home, but I haven’t quite figured out the art scene there. It feels like a small impact in a larger scheme.” Has the move not brought about any changes for her? “I don’t want to say I’m ‘grateful.’ But I suppose I do feel a bit grateful. However, I also feel down about the war in Gaza. There are certain things I choose not to dwell on, like how it will affect my daughter’s future.”

In 1994, Gordon’s daughter, Coco, was born during the peak of Sonic Youth’s popularity and her own fashion label, X-girl, was highly coveted by It Girls. At the time, there were very few women in bands and even fewer who were mothers in the public eye. Gordon struggled with balancing motherhood and her career. She did not feel cool or attractive and noticed that many pregnant women seemed to disappear. Despite this, she continued to breastfeed and perform on tour. She even traveled to Japan for an X-girl fashion shoot when Coco was only six months old, which was extremely tiring. Gordon reflects on how difficult it was to talk about managing motherhood and being an artist. While there were positive aspects, it was challenging to convey the true difficulty of the situation.

I am curious about the experience of having Kim Gordon as a mother, being part of a small group of effortlessly cool women – Chloë Sevigny, Sofia Coppola, Kim Deal – who are long-time friends and collaborators with Gordon. Does she see herself as a “cool” mom? “Ha! I don’t think those words necessarily go together. But I do think being a mom is cool.” She shares that the only time she truly impressed her daughter was when she and her ex-husband, Thurston Moore, were invited to be on an episode of Gilmore Girls and they brought her along. “We used to watch that show all the time and they would mention us!”

Kim Gordon photographed at her home in LA

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Gordon feels a calm sense of happiness when discussing her daughter, who is featured in the Bye Bye music video. I inquire if the hard work of raising a child eventually leads to a strong adult relationship. Gordon explains that their relationship grew closer when her daughter went to college, but was also affected by a breakup. Despite occasional annoyance, her daughter remains her favorite person in the world.

She explains that the sense of being disconnected, which is a recurring theme in her album and something she struggles with in her new life in California, is most intense when she is separated from Coco. “I remember Yoko Ono telling me: ‘I never quite got used to the part where they leave. As a parent, you want your child to venture out into the world, but it’s also challenging. I never fully adjusted to that.'” Gordon nods in understanding, adding: “It’s tough when you don’t have anyone to rely on as an adult. It makes me feel like I have less of a place to call home.”

Gordon’s lunch partner arrives at the bookshop and our meeting is coming to an end. It seems like some artists could talk about themselves endlessly, but for Gordon, an hour is sufficient. I quickly inquire about the love she’s receiving from her young fans online, particularly the vloggers who are passionate about her trap music. Would she consider joining her friends the Breeders in supporting Olivia Rodrigo on her upcoming arena tour? And what if Taylor Swift called her and offered her an opening spot?

“I am uncertain because I do not believe her followers would appreciate it. It needs to be somewhat fitting. Even when Sonic Youth performed with Neil Young, it was challenging to see hippies in the audience giving us the middle finger. Additionally, I am unable to describe what her music sounds like, but I recently flew with a group of her fans en route to Utah and they were all sporting merchandise. That aspect I quite enjoy. I believe I would simply opt for a sweatshirt.”

On March 8th, The Collective will be released.

Source: theguardian.com