Kim Gordon: KCRW Guest DJ set

Hosted by

Cool as Kim Gordon (and Novena Carmel and Anne Litt). Photo by Vice Cooler.

Can you think of a more fitting way to celebrate International Women’s Day than a lengthy, music-centric chat with alt/indie/noise-rock pioneer and founding member of Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon? Yeah, we couldn’t either so that’s exactly what we have on deck for March 8, 2024. 

In conversation with KCRW Music Director and DJ Anne Litt (and with Novena manning the decks and adding insights), Gordon is filling us in on all the inspo behind her new LP The Collective (out TODAY via Matador Records). This includes a recent re-read of Octavia Butler’s 1993 speculative fiction novel Parable of the Sower which takes place in the imagined future of… 2024. She describes parallels from the novel which line up unnervingly with our 2024 reality, and how this informed her improvisatory songwriting for The Collective. She also notes that this was a “beats first” project, shaped in many ways by her producer Justin Raisen. And while the sound is very much in line with the hardest-hitting trap stylings of modern hip-hop, it still fits within a noise rock tradition which has always existed.

Hear Gordon and Litt delight in making each other say “pussy” repeatedly while setting up “It’s Dark Inside” as a glimpse into what the new record has to offer. Plus, Gordon reflects on her “kind of first solo record,” — Olive's Horn (Syr 5) — a collaboration she released in the year 2000 with Japanese No Wave artist Ikue Mori and DJ Olive (giving us a throughline to her current beat-heavy production). And she gives us the extremely cool backstory of Body/Head, her "eccentric music" experimental electric guitar duo with Bill Nace.

Want even more Kim Gordon in your life? Catch her live at the Regent Theater on March 27. And keep scrolling for more of what she has to say about each of her song selects. 

Kim Gordon – “It’s Dark Inside”

Half [of this song] I'd written lyrics for, but then when I was doing the vocals I just started improvising and stuff just came out. I was thinking about it lately and I remembered that during the pandemic I read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, a feminist science fiction writer. She wrote this book in the ‘90s that was supposed to take place in LA, in 2024. I kind of forgot that this is the year. It’s bleak, but also I couldn't stop reading it. And, you know, these people take drugs, set themselves on fire, and just go around shooting people randomly. And so I felt like some [kind of] dystopian kind of correlation to what's going [now] … [so while improvising the song] I just kind of got lost in it. The music is so weird in this song, but fun, so I just kind of went with it.

Kim Gordon, DJ Olive, & Ikue Mori – “Stuck on Gum”

This is a record I did with Ikue Mori, which is someone who used to be in a No Wave band called DNA, which was one of my favorite bands. And then she went on to do more like laptop percussion stuff. And she's great, I played with her a lot on improv stuff. So it was her and this guy, DJ Olive. And then Jim O'Rourke produced it. 

People have asked me [about the new record], ‘why beats?’ I’ve just always liked hip-hop. I kind of feel like I relate to it as a singer, because I don't have a real natural singing voice. I'm more inspired by rhythm, space, and intonation.

Body/Head – “Tripping”

[Body/Head collaborator Bill Nace and I] moved to Northampton, Western Mass around the same time. He was working at the local art movie place, and he was playing gigs around the valley there.  It had a kind of small, but pretty cool experimental music scene. And Thurston [Moore], I think, started playing with him doing duos, I think … We just became friends, you know, it's a very small kind of scene. [And Body/Head] is a guitar duo, improv based. Actually, I like to think of what we do as eccentric music.





Anna Chang