Le Tigre Play 'Feminist Sweepstakes'
Kathleen Hanna punk's feminist pin-up, the girl who danced like a bull in the heather and smelled teen spirit has a musical lineage that reads like a summation of the curve from riot grrrl rock to chick-powered electro-punk: Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre. And her latest outing, Le Tigre, has become just as influential in "underground feminist" culture as Bikini Kill were in the early '90s.
Le Tigre, who begin a 24-date U.S. tour in late February, have become so aware of this gathering community that their latest record, Feminist Sweepstakes (Mr. Lady), features veritable hand-drawn shout-outs to peers like Peaches, Electrelane, The Need, and Chicks on Speed (the latter having released Feminist Sweepstakes on their eponymous record label in Europe). Hell, there's even a nod to Missy Elliott.
"I think part of it is a way to say: no one makes art in a vacuum," Hanna said. "We're being influenced by all this stuff, and we want to acknowledge that. We heard the last Missy record and we were all like, 'Oh, I really want to make music!'; that was how it made us all feel. So, we wanted to say: here's what we were listening to when we made this record, to sort of like, y'know, thank people."
The biggest thanks are reserved for Chicks on Speed whom Hanna calls Le Tigre's "kindred spirits," noting that there's "there's a lot of begging and stealing and borrowing between the two groups" and Peaches; Feminist Sweepstakes has homages to each.
" 'Well Well Well' is totally our homage to Peaches," Hanna laughed. "And, with 'FYR,' we were like, 'Let's make a Chicks on Speed one, OK!' But it's funny, because people are like, 'Oh, it's a Chicks on Speed rip-off!' Like it's supposed to be this bad thing. And we're like, 'Yeah, we love them.'
"I feel like we've influenced them, they've influenced us, as in a lot of their early interviews they said they were really inspired by Bikini Kill and Julie Ruin," Hanna said matter-of-factly. "It's a two-way street, but what's really cool is that it should be a two-way street. It shouldn't be everybody going, 'You're ripping me off!' We all rip each other off, that's part of the fun."
The idea of "thanking people" by lovingly drawing a compact disc or a cassette with their name on it as part of their own CD cover's artwork goes back to the original concept Le Tigre came up with upon the completion of the album.
"The original idea for why we called it Feminist Sweepstakes was because we had this idea that we could have a basket of stuff that we use to make our art, which is electronic punk music," Hanna explains. "And we were thinking about how in a sweepstakes each person gives in things and each person wins back. And, as feminists, we're giving in our music and our art and our time and different things we do in the world, and other feminists all over the world are giving in their things, and every day we each are winning back from that." Anthony Carew [Monday, January 21, 2002]