A decade ago, Kathleen Hanna's Bikini Kill heralded the days of rage that led to Riot Grrrl, one of the few 90s movements that felt like punk actually happened. Now, Hanna's new trio Le Tigre (and side projects ranging from plunderphonic IDM to conceptual art stunts) are spearheading a rapidly spreading network of feminist flavoured electropunk while defining new parameters for politicised noise in their search for an electronique feminine. Words: Joy Press. This article originally appeared in The Wire 215 (January 2002).
Sitting in a minimalist cafe in downtown Manhattan, Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna - with her perky ponytail, black sweatshirt, and bandaged thumb, which she injured while playing basketball - blends in with the nearby students tapping on laptops. She and bandmate JD Samson are dissecting Le Tigre's performance on a local cable TV show. Samson moans about the terrible sound, but Hanna exudes positivity. "Think about it as a punk thing. If you watch it again as a punk performance," she insists, "it won't seem so bad."
Hanna made her name as the singer in Bikini Kill, and with Le
Tigre she's bringing Riot Grrrl to electronica: feminist-flavoured
electropunk that aims to blast away the pretensions and
anal-retentions of the new Prog rock. Face it: much of the
electronica scene right now is caught in a feedback loop of 'glitch
for glitch's sake' - hermetic, formalist, depoliticised, riddled
with esoteric jargon, and almost entirely male. Hanna still holds
tight to the punk ethics and aesthetics that propelled her through
eight years (1991-98) as lead singer with Bikini Kill: DIY rules,
energy is better than expertise, ideas count for more than ability.
Just as Bikini Kill inspired hundreds of girls to grab guitars and
drumsticks, Le Tigre incite young women to boot up sequencers and
samplers. Bikini Kill's records were raw and bratty, Hanna doling
out disses like some Girl Guide fronting a 60s garage punk outfit.
But the group's almost doctrinaire rejection of competence meant
they never progressed much, aesthetically. When I express my
skepticism about the Riot Grrrl ritual of swapping instruments
between members onstage, Hanna grins sheepishly. "It's like
dilettantism or something, right? And it feeds into that whole
thing of women not being able to finish anything..." She laughs,
then continues, "Like, oh, the process is so important, who cares
about the product? But I always thought of it more as entertaining
for the audience. A lot of rock music has become about being a
craftsperson and I'm not that interested in exploring the craft of
guitar. If a woman wants to do that, she should do it, and
sometimes I wish I were that kind of personality who can practise
something and keep at it."
Le Tigre are less a conventional group, says Hanna, than a conceptual art project (and here they resemble their Berlin based friends Chicks On Speed, whose self-titled record label released Le Tigre's Feminist Sweepstakes LP in Europe at the end of 2001). After the disintegration of Bikini Kill, Hanna joined forces with zine writer Johanna Fateman and underground film maker Sadie Benning (subsequently replaced by activist/choreographer Samson) for a multidisciplinary ensemble. Non-musicians have often played a potent role in pop music - think Yoko Ono, Brian Eno, Malcolm McLaren - as conceptualists who push the more conventionally minded, craft conscious members of their groups to breakthroughs they would not have achieved otherwise. But what happens when a group is made up entirely of conceptualists? Some people might dismiss Le Tigre as Bikini Kill Mk II - just an efficient message delivery service for disseminating feminist ideas that otherwise have scant currency within pop culture. But at their most ambitious, Le Tigre suggest a new kind of electronic music that isn't just made by women or about female-specific topics: it actually sounds female.
"Bikini Kill is more than just a band or zine or idea, it's part of a revolution. The revolution is about going to the playground with your best girlfriends. You are hanging upside down on the bars and all the blood is rushing to your head. It's a euphoric feeling. The boys can see our underwear and we just don't care. I'm so sure that lots of girls are also in a revolution and we want to find them"- Kathleen Hanna, in Bikini Kill: A Color And Activity Book zine Ever since her earliest days on the music scene, Kathleen Hanna has wielded words like a lethal weapon. In zines and in her lyrics for Bikini Kill, she's created some of the most potent feminist slogans of the last 20 years: not just "Revolution Grrrl style now!" but the simple (and, as The Spice Girls proved, easily poached) call for 'Grrrl Power'. The manifesto form is very punk rock - its call-to-arms quality, purity of purpose, and raw power, all correspond perfectly to three chord furore. When critics retrospect on the Riot Grrrl movement now, they invariably namedrop Bikini Kill anthems like "Suck My Left One" or "Rebel Girl", with its famous lyric "In her kiss, I taste the revolution". Love her or loathe her, Hanna almost singlehandedly galvanised a worldwide network of disaffected young women.
The manic energy Hanna radiates sets her apart as the kind of person who makes things happen, rather than one who follows. "I always felt there was something wrong with me on the West Coast because I was way too hyper, and everybody else was like, 'Yo, slow down, peace out'. But now that I'm living in New York, everybody's super-caffeinated like I am," she says in Valley Girlish tones, her ponytail bobbing.
Hanna's home base for many years was Olympia, Washington, the centre of a scene loosely gathered around Calvin Johnson, founder of K Records, frontman of Beat Happening and evangelist for all things lo-fi. The 'Calvinist' approach, which had a UK equivalent in the mid-80s movement of 'shambling bands' such as The Pastels and Talulah Gosh, exalted amateurism and equated proficiency with slick professional product. Johnson idolised postpunk groups like The Raincoats and The Slits, whose shambolic works-in-progress retrospectively offer a roadmap for later generations of female groups, Le Tigre included.
If Riot Grrrl had a birthplace, it was at K's International Pop Underground Convention in August 1991. The opening night was devoted to 'Love Rock Revolution Girl Style Now', with a line-up of female-centric acts including Bratmobile, Heavens To Betsy, and Hanna's early project Suture. In the months following, 'Riot Grrrl chapters' began to form across America, dedicated to raising consciousness, promoting Grrrl groups, and highlighting sexism in the independent rock scene. Images of young feminists in cutesy clothes, oversized specs and bright slashes of red lipstick sent reporters and average guys on the street into paroxysms of laughter or nervousness. A full-blown media frenzy ensued, with Hanna singled out as the confrontational but cute face of Riot Grrrl. One often reprinted photo captures her performing onstage with shirt pulled up, the word "Slut" daubed on her stomach in red lipstick.
Buoyed by her Poly Styrene-style roar, Hanna's lyrics fused anguish and defiance as she connected the larger horrors of American society (child abuse, sexual harassment) with the mini indignities of the punk scene (violent moshpits, condescending assholes). In "Don't Need You," Hanna taunts: "Don't need you to tell us we're good/Don't need you to tell us we suck/Don't need your protection/Don't need your dick to fuck." But Bikini Kill's indie puritanism stranded them in a state of enforced immaturity, with all the angst, infighting, and identity politics that comes with adolescence. When the media swooped in on the movement, it was like Babylon had come calling. I remember one teenager at an early Riot Grrrl meeting comparing it to a stranger breaking into her bedroom and reading her diary. In true 'Calvinist' spirit, Bikini Kill instituted a media lockdown, attempting to preserve their purity by diving further underground. With or without their cooperation, magazines wrote stories, copycat groups emerged, and The Spice Girls reduced the Olympians' revolutionary ambitions to sassy soundbites.
When asked why they didn't try to use the attention for their own ends, Hanna looks pained. "How would we have done it? In Bikini Kill it was a matter of survival for me, just making it to the next day. The whole idea of thinking of a huge plan that involved the media..." She wrinkles her nose disdainfully. "That was a force I really didn't want to deal with." In the end, the whole juggernaut just messed with her head. "Our second fanzine was called Girl Power and I remember wondering: 'Did the Spice Girls get that from us or was that just a coincidence?' On the first tour, I started seeing the same outfits I was wearing onstage turn up in clothing catalogues. I was thinking: 'Am I an egomaniac that I think this is happening? Have they been following us around, or was it just cultural osmosis?' It does make you nuts. Anti-feminism sold as feminism is so super-creepy!" Unlike X Ray Spex's Poly Styrene, whose horror at punk's commodification drove her to the verge of breakdown, Hanna's survival instincts kicked in, and today she puts an impossibly positive spin on the bastardisation of Riot Grrrl. "I saw friends who had kids, their little seven and eight year old girls were dancing to Spice Girls at parties. I thought, If that gives them a powerful message and they turn that into something smart, maybe feminism won't seem so weird to them when they're 13."
Although Bikini Kill continued touring and released several
records in the mid-90s (Pussy Whipped, Reject All American), the
initial exhilaration was gone, and they officially broke up in
1998. Musically, their legacy doesn't hold up all that well to
retrospective scrutiny: the sometimes didactic lyrics, the simple
punk rock grind. But as an inspirational force, Bikini Kill's
impact has been immense. Hanna recalls the time her friend's father
found a reference to her in a New York Times article about the
acclaimed post-Riot Grrrl group Sleater-Kinney. "There was a
picture of me and a picture of Bob Dylan and we were listed as
[Sleater-Kinney singer] Corin Tucker's influences. I thought, 'Oh
my God, I'm becoming an influence. Does that mean I'm a dinosaur?"
Beyond the hundreds of Grrrl groups that formed in their wake,
Bikini Kill's sway spread to more unlikely quarters, such as the
agit-breakbeats of Atari Teenage Riot. Alec Empire's mob even
persuaded Hanna to appear as a guest vocalist on "No Success" a
track on their 1999 60 Second Wipe Out LP. Most recently, she had a
cameo appearance on the Playgroup record, Trevor Jackson's early
80s new wave/post-disco project (see The Wire 214).
In the waning days of Bikini Kill, Hanna started messing around with a junkshop sampler and drum machine. The songs from that period, released at the end of 1998 under the alter ego Julie Ruin on the Kill Rock Stars label, offer a fleeting glimpse of Hanna sitting in her closet (where the tracks were recorded) trying to shed the rock routines she'd absorbed in Bikini Kill and teach herself a new language. Rickety and often primitive sounding, Julie Ruin largely revolves around samples (who else would think to combine Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is" with a rant about violence against women?) and repetition (in "Crochet," an attack on women-in-rock hype, she chants "You killed the thing/You make me want to CROCHET!"). Less programmatic than Bikini Kill but flimsier than Le Tigre, the Julie Ruin album catches Hanna in that most vulnerable artistic state: the transitional moment. "I was writing in this dogmatic straightforward way for a long while," Hanna admits. "With Julie Ruin, I realised I didn't have to spell stuff out in the way I'd been continually doing it - I wanted to experiment with different ways to communicate that weren't as direct. Because I started out as a writer, I actually thought of it in terms of fiction versus nonfiction. And I felt I needed to start writing fiction again. In Bikini Kill I would write essays and take lines out of them and put them into songs, but some songs weren't as successful because they shouldn't have been songs. They are two different mediums and that's been an interesting process, figuring out that this idea should be an essay, this should be a short story, and this should be a song."
The press release for the Ruin record posed the question, "What would L'Ecriture Feminine sound like as music?" This was a reference to French feminist Helene Cixous's notion that women should "write from their bodies", find a way to express feminine creativity in less linear, more fluid language. Today, Hanna seems more ambivalent about the idea. On the one hand, it's tantalising because it offers a model for female creativity, but it also traps women in essentialist cliches (femininity as amorphous, oceanic, indeterminate, opposed to structure or clarity). "When I went to college, that [French post-structuralist feminist] stuff was really big. Right when I was figuring out I had a voice I was told I had to speak in tongues. 'Your scream creates a whole new world of language'," Hanna mocks in pompous tones. "That's what people would say to me! I felt I was being encouraged to develop this non-intellectual, more emotional stereotype of female identity." Using an alter ego was a way to distance herself from these expectations that Hanna felt had calcified around her, to test out a more experimental identity. "Julie Ruin was more confident than I am," she told Punk Planet. "She was able to say, 'I'm a fucking artist and people can't treat me this way anymore'." And her dalliance with l'ecriture feminine lasted just long enough to prime Hanna's mind for more openended musical possibilities - "to fuck with pop structure and pop pleasure by contaminating it with political content and simplistic uses of Techno apparatus," as Johanna Fateman later explained Le Tigre's mission to an online fanzine.
Johanna Fateman first met Hanna at an early Bikini Kill gig, where she handed a copy of her punk zine Snarla to the singer. They ended up living in a communal house some years later, forming a shortlived "surf band" called The Troublemakers. While Hanna was working on the Julie Ruin project, she and Fateman discussed their mutual dismay at what had happened to their little underground. "The initial experience of girls promoting shows for other girls and creating a network for bands to tour and for zines to change hands - that was really exciting," recalls Fateman now. "Beyond that, it got pretty fucked up. It became this kind of basic training/consciousness raising thing. It didn't feel like art, it felt like some kind of counselling." As for the aesthetic impact, Fateman believes that when Riot Grrrl went overground, "Different girls across the country with really disparate ideas and aesthetics suddenly felt they had to fit into what the media wanted from them, and their work really changed. What was a loose network of different people became much more homogenous because of it." (She admits that Snarla succumbed to the same syndrome, subtly mutating from a broad, sardonic punkzine to a Grrrl zine narrowly focused on identity politics.)
Although Hanna had just begun to experiment outside punk rock with the Julie Ruin record, Fateman had already abandoned the world of guitars when she left the West Coast to go to art school in New York seven years ago. "When you're disillusioned, you become kind of reactionary. I sold all my punk records. I even started buying new clothes - you know, to separate myself from the old scene," she says now, wearing a black and white polkadot shirt that betrays no particular cultural affiliation. When she arrived in New York, she started checking out the local Deep House scene, clubs like Shelter and Body & Soul. "Coming from a kind of postmodernist cultural studies background, [those House parties] blew my mind: the visceral sound system sensory environment, the meaningful diversity of the crowds, plus the House vocal motifs of love and freedom - it made me question to what end my post-Riot Grrrl peers were spending so much time deconstructing humanism and universal values, if it ultimately just made any notion of community impermissable and/or unenjoyable." The third original member of Le Tigre - video artist Sadie Benning, celebrated for her experimental films made with a Pixelvision camera - first hooked up with Kathleen Hanna when Bikini Kill supplied the soundtrack for Benning's short 1992 film Girl Power, shot when she was just 19. Benning also directed a video for the Julie Ruin song "Aerobicide", and she offered to contribute visuals for the 1999 tour around that album. In the end, though, Benning bought herself a sampler and started making music with Hanna and Fateman. "We only ever ended up doing two Julie Ruin songs live," Hanna says, "because we made up all these new ones."
After the Julie Ruin tour, Hanna moved to Manhattan. There, she
and Fateman wrote the songs that later comprised the Le Tigre
debut, sending them to Benning in Chicago, who tinkered with
turntables and added extra sonic layers - particularly the weird
noises and soundtrackish effects. Ultimately, Fateman sighs,
Benning "couldn't take the time to make it work" and returned to
her fulltime career as cult queer film maker after the first album.
Hanna puts a cheerier spin on the split: "Sadie has a pretty
intense relationship with visuals in her head, and she needed to be
able to do that." Benning's friend JD Samson was an integral
component of the Le Tigre live performances from early on, working
on the group's accompanying slideshow. Now she became a fully
fledged member of the trio. Sweet and unexpectedly earnest, Samson
brings an off-kilter quality to Le Tigre. Clad in the kind of
unobtrusive light blue button-up shirt a businessman might wear,
she and her peach-fuzz mustache disrupt the group's Grrrlish
glamour. (One British magazine recently assumed she was a guy,
which makes her fellow group members squirm, but which she
apparently took in her stride.) Raised in Ohio and in her early
twenties, Samson says her cultural identity was stoked by the early
90s 'queercore' movement of gay and lesbian punk outfits. "I came
out in high school and the only music I cared about then was music
made by queer people. Riot Grrrl was happening, but I had no idea
that was going on. My experience of that period was different from
Johanna's and Kathleen's - I never even heard Bikini Kill. I
listened to Tribe 8 and Pansy Division, that's all I knew about."
Everyone in Le Tigre pursues side projects, and Samson's is Dykes Can Dance - she terms it an "intervention" against Mayor Giuliani's crackdown on dancing in Manhattan bars that don't have a cabaret licence, particularly lesbian bars. "We just walk in and start doing this crazy dancing. People don't really get it," she says, chuckling. "I guess they think we're weird, but I hope word will get around about what we're doing and then they'll get into it." Beyond making a stand against the city's increasing cultural restrictiveness, Sampson hopes it will make dykes more comfortable inhabiting public space. She's also bringing these techniques to Le Tigre, choreographing dances for the trio to perform on stage. It's hard to figure out whether the idea is embarrassing, adorably loopy, or spot-on, but the other members seem committed to the idea regardless. Says Fateman, "I'm not into watching someone standing onstage with a laptop. I respect that as a way to make music, but that's not a live show. That's why we dance - you have to do something to stay in the area of performance." Hanna says that dancing and making dance music are two sides of the same coin. "I love the visceral part of music, that it can take you over and you can trust it. Women have to steel themselves against so much, men constantly commenting on us, or against violence. It's feeling you have to leave your body because you can't take the pain all the time. I want to make music that, when women listen to it, they can be inside themselves again. To make dance music is even better, because then they can be dancing with other women feeling inside of themselves. The content and technique can come together in dance music. In European countries there isn't as much of a separation, we don't get asked 'which is more important, message or music?' And what that question doesn't acknowledge is that all music is political - and a lot of it is very conservative. It's usually only progressively political people who are pigeonholed for making political music, but everyone else is just supporting the status quo."
That opposition - message versus music - makes for unsettling tensions in Le Tigre's music. With Bikini Kill, there was always a feeling that the message trumped all: the lyrics, the DIY mode of production and distribution, and the task of inspiring confidence in other girls, all took priority over making a singular, lasting contribution to music history. But Le Tigre clearly want the sound and the soundbite to be equally potent this time around. Several of their most provocative tracks are instrumental. In particular, "They Want To Make A Symphony Out Of The Sound Of Women Swallowing Their Own Tongues" (off last year's From The Desk Of Mr Lady EP) offers a startling evocation of female inarticulacy, as samples of young feminists, directionless and stuttering, run headlong into a pounding barrage of synthetic beats. The more recent "Dyke March 2001" floats between didacticism and dancefloor, using proto-Jungle breakbeats to cushion samples culled from a tense standoff between police and march organisers.
Le Tigre's self-titled 1999 debut, released by North Carolina's Mr Lady Records & Video, shunned sloganeering in favour of quirky cultural observation - check out the girlish voices of "What's Yr Take On Cassavetes" impishly debating "genius? misogynist?", or the shriek of female alienation in "The The Empty" ("I went to yr concert and I didn't feel anything") set against dirty guitarnoise and percussion that feels like being bitchslapped by 1000 chopsticks. Joy suffuses "Eau D'Bedroom Dancing", a watercolour wisp of a song evoking the undiluted confidence and pleasure that one feels nowhere but in one's own inner sanctum: "There's no fear when I'm in my room/It's so clear and I know just what I want to do." The ultimate Le Tigre track remains "Deceptacon", a perfect concoction of danceable new wave electropop that fuses Joy Division bassline, effervescent synth, trademark Hanna vocals deriding trad rock machismo, and irresistibly hummable chorus "who took the bomp from the bompalompalomp?/who took the ram from the ramalama dingdong?" On the new Feminist Sweepstakes, that intoxication has faded into awkward bittersweetness, as befits a women's movement that's lost its momentum. Fateman's high voice floats over the erratic threnody of "Much Finer", struggling against apathy: "Do you want to stay in bed all day? Do you remember feeling any other way?" while "Shred A" strands Hanna in Casio hell, pummelling her with synthetic loops as she laments: "It's all so precious and you throw it away." Several songs suffer from an overreliance on pointed lyrics: "FYR" (short for 50 Years of Ridicule) is a CV of reasons why we still need feminism, and the electrofunk of "Fake French" nearly topples under the weight of the group's heavyhanded attacks on academic jargon. "During the first record, I was so depressed," Hanna says by way of explanation. "It was me and Jo getting together and saying, 'What are we going to do? All this work that happened in the 90s is being erased and all the infighting has gotten out of control, no one wants to make work because they're so worried about someone criticising it'." So, counterintuitive as it may sound, they set out to create music overflowing with reasons to be positive. This time around, "We're much happier and so we were able to explore some of the sad things this time." Fateman also points out that "with the first album we felt a little scared to go too far with the lyrics. But people seemed so excited about the explicit feminist content on the first record that we felt fine about going overboard with it this time!"
All three group members generate ideas and lyrics - Samson says
they each make wishlists of records they'd like to sample and
issues they want to address - but Fateman is the woman who throws
down the beats. Before Le Tigre, Fateman - seemingly the most
intellectually grounded of the three - was mostly known for her
zines, such as My Need To Speak On The Subject Of Jackson Pollock,
a "semi-facetious" screed aimed at an ossified art world. But in
the context of Le Tigre, Fateman quickly became the de facto
"technical person", the muso, even though the group's equipment
tends to be primitive and cheap. With a knowledge and passion for
electronica and HipHop, she cites influences like Company Flow,
Wu-Tang and OutKast, as well as two-step Garage. In fact, New
York's pioneering two-step DJ, a woman named Reid Speed, is
collaborating with Fateman on a remix album of Le Tigre tracks due
out early next year. "I'm inspired by the pop sensibility and use
of vocals [within two-step]," says Fateman. "I like that the vocals
are not always so cut-up or decontextualised and in that way
resemble old fashioned extended dance versions of songs... I guess
I am obsessed with figuring out how much lyrical content or
explicit political meaning a dance track can withstand, so I'm
always listening with an ear for that."
Fateman is currently constructing a Website, explicitly intended to guide women into the forbidding zone of geek gear. As Hanna points out indignantly, "A lot of guys will try to mystify it and make it seem really hard. You feel like you have to do your research before you even go to the store to buy a sampler. I'm not into mastering the technology - there are moments when the tech masters me and it's totally hilarious. I'm really into making a mistake on the sampler and then building on that." It's somewhat surprising to hear her venerate Dr Dre (a man charged with pushing a female journalist down a flight of stairs) as "my current role model", but she exclaims, "I love the way he makes beats sound. I'm going to keep at it until I can do that. I'm not saying it doesn't take a while to do it well, but it's just a matter of time."
"That's easy for her to say!" Fateman laughs, all those hours of wrangling with sequencers and samplers reflected in her eyes. "It's easier to make home listening stuff than to make people dance, but that's not what I want to do." She expresses some frustration that critics still treat Le Tigre as guitar rock rather than electronic music (nearly all guitars on their records are sampled), but as a group they still haven't advanced far enough along that continuum. Swim With The Dolphins, Fateman's solo project, offers a glimpse of her potential. The name was inspired by a book called Swim With The Dolphins: How Women Can Succeed In Corporate America On Their Own Terms, a feminist assimilationist business manual that Fateman suggests is "a half-ironic metaphor for my project, which is about testing the radical potential of electronic/dance music production for feminist art practice. While Le Tigre works with the performative conventions of rock music (mostly) and some punk-style strategies for political agitation, SWD I hope will be more about 'faceless' track production." In 1999 she passed around 100 copies of some SWD tracks, one of which ended up in the hands of Kid606, who put the track "yr guitar" on his recent Tigerbeat6 Inc compilation. A screech of feedback from Riot Grrrl outfit Heavens To Betsy melts into a womblike cradle of bells and pulsing erratic beats, punctuated by Karen Carpenter's reverent voice. With its references to Riot Grrrl and Superstar (Todd Haynes's cinematic ode to Carpenter), "yr guitar" is meant as a "tribute to the makeshift/minimal/punk art-making that had inspired me up to that point". Fateman will be releasing SWD material early next year on her own label New Party Records, which she says will be much more dance orientated: "Aside from any aesthetic mission I might have, this project will have to be at least partially about making a social context for dance music to have feminist meaning; or to start with, a social context for women to make dance tracks."
In the end, this is what really separates Le Tigre from most of their rock and electronica counterparts: their idea of community is not some subgenre clique, but the broader world of women and women's art. They record on female-run labels - Mr Lady in the US and Chicks On Speed's label in Europe - and they have played female festivals that run the gamut of women's music, from the very old guard folkie-feminist Michigan Womyn's Festival to Ladyfest, the post-Grrrl response to Lilith Fair. Le Tigre take feminism seriously, and if anyone can make this kind of earnestness seem cool in a pop culture milieu that equates being hip with being dispassionate, it's Kathleen Hanna. She talks about seeking out older feminist mentors, and nearly all of her side projects are with women, such as current collaborations with feminist choreographer Karen Sherman and art critic Laura Cottingham. Cottingham gets namedropped in "Hot Topic", a kind of 'Banarama meets Germaine Greer' ditty on the debut album. A long list of visionary female musicians, writers and painters, it has to be the catchiest ode to female art ever recorded - and it was inspired, says Hanna, by Cottingham's video documentary about feminist art in the 70s, Not For Sale.
"A few years ago I came to New York for a panel discussion about Not For Sale and there were all these great women artists in the room, and one of them said, 'Young women don't care about what we're doing.' I was too nervous to stand up and say anything but I felt like I'd found my place in the world. It was the first time I understood that feeling guys talk about, like the first time they saw The Who or something. The feminist panel discussion was my Who! And I wanted to make a song for girls who feel the same way."