30 Over 30: Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon may be one of the most influential feminist pop icons of our era. A visual artist, fashion designer, and music producer, as well as vocalist, guitarist, and bass player for Sonic Youth, she inspired and helped launch the careers of a generation of artists, including Spike Jonze, Gerhard Richter, Chloë Sevigny, and Kurt Cobain. She released her first album two months prior to her 30th birthday; her first commercial success, Goo, was released in 1990 when she was 37.

Part of what I admire about Kim Gordon is not only her ability to juggle being a mama (to a musician in her own right, no less) with being a rock star, but also her refusal to be confined to a singular form of expression or way of being. As Kathleen Hanna and Sofia Coppola explain:

Her pursuit of additional creative outlets helped others think more broadly about what it could mean to be in a rock band. ‘Kim inspired me because she tried all the things that interested her,’ Coppola says. ‘She just did what she was into.’ Hanna agrees. ‘I loved so many kinds of art besides music, and it sometimes made me feel torn, but Kim seemed very comfortable doing whatever she felt like at the time.’

Or, as she explains herself, in her recently published memoir, Girl in a Band (reviewed here in the New York Times, by none other than Questlove):

In the late sixties Alan Watts and other thinkers were introducing America to ideas from Eastern philosophy and Buddhism. The idea of banishing the ego was in play, in contrast to Western thought, which was all about the three-act Hollywood structure of beginning, middle, end. I was much more interested in the nontraditional narrative flow, the kind embodied by French New Wave cinema. That, combined with taking acid and smoking pot, set me off in a new direction of thinking. From that point on, I would never feel sure, or comfortable, about making conclusions or bold, definite statements about anything. Questioning things fit in with “becoming,” which in turn brought me closer to living in the present and farther away from the idea that you’re done, ready, formed, or cooked at some preset age like your early twenties. Maybe that’s why the HBO series Girls resonates with so many people. It shows that stage in life when older people assume that just because you’ve graduated college you know who you are, or what you’re doing, and in fact most people don’t. (pg. 58-59)

Thank you, Kim Gordon!

To read about more women making critical contributions – even after age 30 – follow @shespoised on twitter, or like She’s Poised on Facebook (and select Get Notifications from the drop down menu).

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