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All Songs +1: Kathleen Hanna And The Return Of Bikini Kill

Bikini Kill perform at one of their first live shows, in 1990.
Bikini Kill perform at one of their first live shows, in 1990.

Bikini Kill, the feminist punk band at the forefront of the '90s riot grrrl movement, are about to reissue something few people have heard. The group's very first demo, Revolution Girl Style Now, is coming out not only in its original cassette format, but also on CD, vinyl, and digital formats.

For this week's +1 podcast, Bob Boilen and Katie Presley talk to Bikini Kill founder Kathleen Hanna. Since Binki Kill disbanded in 1997, the singer and guitarist has gone on to front the bands Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin. Bob and Katie talk to Kathleen about the legacy of Olympia, Washington's Bikini Kill, what it's like for Kathleen to listen to the band's early demos and revisit the riot grrrl era. They also talk about her recovery from a major illness and what the future holds. Read highlights below, and listen to the full interview in the audio link above.

Revolution Girl Style Now comes out Sept. 22 on Bikini Kill Records.

Interview Highlights

On the legacy of Bikini Kill and riot grrrl

I'm seeing so many younger girls who are just getting into Bikini Kill for the first time, and it's really resonating with them ... You'd think it's so old the ideas wouldn't be relevant to them anymore, but, sadly, sexism is just as relevant as it ever was ... I think when they come to the music a lot of times they're like, "Wait a minute! Someone else feels this way? I thought I was the only person!"

I look at the influence Bikini Kill, and all the other feminist musicians have had on culture and I see Beyonce putting out songs like "If I Was A Boy" and ["Run The World (Girls)"], and I'm like, "This is great!" I'm not like, "This is only for us!" That's the part of punk I don't like. You know, it can become another set of rules. When you try to be the opposite of something, you're only reinforcing it.

On "girl power"

Our second fan zine (in 1991) was called Girl Power. People don't usually attribute that to Bikini Kill, but that is pretty much where it came from. And then it became a Spice Girls thing... and the US women's soccer team being called "Girl Power..." I remember when I was younger feeling like I'm getting ripped off ... Now I think, "Wow, how cool to have been a part of something that seeped into mainstream culture."

On making music now

In Bikini Kill, I wanted to to challenge people to participate in the scene who weren't typically being welcomed, and trying to create a welcoming environment for people who weren't typically welcome. Now I feel like a lot of that work has been done, and I can write about whatever I want to write about. Some of it still has to do with oppression in the universe and oppression in my life. I really feel like I've earned just being a person in a band.

Yeah, I'm a feminist musician, but I'm a musician. I've been doing this for 25 years and I kinda know what I'm doing ... I'm just letting myself have a good time and enjoy being in a band with my friends ... My goal isn't everything is for the audience.

On her health and the future

I feel great. I'm in what they call remission from late-stage Lyme Disease ... Almost right before going onstage it's really hard not to bawl my eyes out ... Having been someone who never got sick a lot and then got very, very ill, it definitely gave me an appreciation I didn't have before, and made me really know, "This is what I wanna do. This is what I was born to do."

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