Kathleen Hanna

Kathleen Hanna

Infobox musical artist
Name = Kathleen Hanna

Img_capt = Kathleen Hanna with Bikini Kill: January 17, 1996
Img_size = 207
Landscape =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name =
Alias = Julie Ruin
Born = Birth date and age|1968|11|12|df=y
Portland, Oregon, United States
Died =
Origin =
Instrument = Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, sampler, drums, drum machine
Genre = Riot grrrl, electronica, punk rock
Occupation = Musician, Activist, Writer
Years_active = 1990–present
Label =
Associated_acts = Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julie Ruin
Notable_instruments =

Kathleen Hanna (born 12 November 1968) is an American musician, activist, and zine writer. In the 1990s she was the lead singer of Bikini Kill and feminist electro-punk band Le Tigre. In 1998, Hanna released a solo album under the name Julie Ruin. Hanna has contributed a great deal to the revival of feminism and is considered one of the leading icons of the '90s riot grrrl movement. She has collaborated with a wide variety of musicians, appearing on records with numerous artists, such as Atari Teenage Riot, Joan Jett, the Rickets, Green Day, Internal/External and Mike Watt.

Life and career


Born in Portland, Oregon, Hanna moved with her family to Calverton, Maryland in 1971. More moves ensued, as Hanna's father changed occupations. Hanna's parents got a divorce while she was in high school.Hanna first became interested in feminism around the age of nine, after her mother took her to a rally in Washington D.C. where feminist icon Gloria Steinem spoke. Though it would be several years until she would become the outspoken feminist she is today, the event clearly left an impression. In a 2000 interview with "BUST" magazine, Hanna recalled:In the 2006 documentary, "Don't Need You: the Herstory of Riot Grrrl", Hanna elaborates on the effect feminism had on her in childhood, recalling that her interest grew when her mother checked out a copy of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" from the library. Yet Hanna and her mother's involvement in the women's rights movement had to be done quietly in the years before her parents' divorce, due to her father's disapproval. ["Don't Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl", 2006, Kerri Koch]


Hanna attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in the late 1980s. During this time she began working as a burlesque dancer to support herself while studying photography. Working with fellow Evergreen student and photographer Aaron Baush-Greene, Hanna set up a photo exhibit featuring the pair's photography, which dealt with, respectively, sexism and AIDS. However, the school administrators took the photos down before they got the chance to be viewed, an act of censorship that prompted what Hanna refers to as her "first foray into activism"–the creation of an independent feminist art gallery called "Reko Muse" with friends Heidi Arbogast and Tammy Rae Carland. The three women then formed a band called "Amy Carter", which put on shows before the art exhibitions. [ [http://www.letigreworld.com/sweepstakes/html_site/fact/khfacts.html kathleen's herstory ] ]
Hanna also began doing spoken word performances that addressed sexism and violence against women, issues with which she became concerned after volunteering for a domestic violence organization over the next two years. Eventually she abandoned spoken word in favor of music, being inspired by one of her favorite writers, countercultural icon Kathy Acker. Hanna recalled, "Acker asked me why writing was important to me, and I said, 'Because I felt like I'd never been listened to and I had a lot to say,' and she said, 'Then why are you doing spoken word—no one goes to spoken word shows! You should get in a band.'" [ [http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030113/frey Kathleen Hanna's Fire ] ]
Hanna later started another band called Viva Knievel that toured the United States for two months before disbanding. Upon returning to Olympia, Hanna began collaborating with fellow Evergreen student and punk zinester Tobi Vail after seeing a performance of The Go Team, (a band made up of Vail, Billy Karren, and Calvin Johnson) and recognizing Vail as the mastermind behind the fanzine "Jigsaw", which Hanna greatly admired and loved.

Bikini Kill

Hanna and Tobi Vail's first collaboration was a zine called "Revolution Girl Style Now". This led to a later zine titled "Bikini Kill", a response to sexism in the punk rock scene, written with fellow Evergreen student and friend Kathi Wilcox. The three women decided to form a band to personify their ideals and recruited Vail’s bandmate Karren as the fourth member, naming the band after their zine.

Bikini Kill soon became part of the seminal Olympia, Washington music scene of the early 1990’s, which was characterized by political awareness, a strong artistic do-it-yourself ethic, and an emphasis on local collaboration and support.

The band's first release for the Kill Rock Stars label was a self-titled EP produced by Ian MacKaye of Fugazi. Bikini Kill then toured the UK, recording a split LP with UK band Huggy Bear. This tour was filmed and the band was interviewed by Lucy Thane for her documentary, "It Changed My Life: Bikini Kill In The UK." Upon returning to the U.S., the band began working with Joan Jett, who produced their single, "New Radio/Rebel Girl". After the release of this record, Hanna began co-writing some songs with Joan for her new album.

At the same time Hanna produced several solo pieces for the Kill Rock Stars "Wordcore" series of recordings, including the 7" single "Rockstar" and the song "I Wish I Was Him" (a Ben Lee cover about alternative rock heartthrob Evan Dando) on the KRS compilation "Rock Stars Kill". She was also in the band called Suture with Sharon Cheslow and Dug E. Bird.

The first two Bikini Kill EPs were released on CD as the appropriately titled "The C.D. Version of the First Two Records" in 1993.Buckley, Peter. (November 20 2003) "The Rough Guide to Rock", 3rd ed. revised. Rough Guides. ISBN=1843531054. pp 93–94.] The band released two more full-length albums, "Pussy Whipped" in 1994 and "Reject All American" in 1996, and in 1998, Kill Rock Stars released "Bikini Kill: The Singles", a collection of the group's seven inch and compilation tracks. Bikini Kill broke up on friendly terms around April 1998.

Influence on Riot Grrrl

In 1991, the band spent a summer in Washington, D.C., where Hanna began collaborating with Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman from the band Bratmobile on the zine [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=Riot_grrrl_%28zine%29 "riot grrrl"] , which became a call to action for increased feminist activity and female involvement in the punk rock scene. In a 2000 interview with "Index Magazine", Hanna relates:

Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and zines like "Jigsaw" and "Girl Germs" helped define the movement that came to be called Riot Grrrl.

Between bands

Post-Bikini Kill, Hanna moved to Durham, North Carolina, home of Mr. Lady records, which was run by her close friend Tammy Rae Carland. Hanna began a series of projects, the first of which was "The Fakes", in which she enlisted the help of Rachel Carns of The Need. The resulting CD, "Real Fiction" was released on Chainsaw Records.

Her next project, Julie Ruin was a sampler-driven lo-fi electronic project recorded in the closet of Hanna's Olympia apartment using only a sampler, a drum machine and an 8-track recorder. It was released on the Kill Rock Stars label. Hanna has done some spoken word under the name "Kathleen Hanna" as well.

Le Tigre

In Portland, Oregon, Hanna began working with friend and zine editor Johanna Fateman on a live show for Julie Ruin. The collaboration resulted in the two briefly forming a band called "The Troublemakers", named after a G.B. Jones film, which ended when Fateman relocated to New York City to attend art school.

However, Hanna soon joined Fateman on the East Coast, and with the addition of filmmaker Sadie Benning, they started another band called Le Tigre (French for "The Tiger"). This band continued to pursue a more electronic style of music similar to the sampler-driven sound Hanna had begun to explore with "Julie Ruin". The band recorded for the Mr. Lady Records label, its first recording being the self-titled "Le Tigre", which included the singles "Hot Topic" and "Deceptacon." After the first record, Sadie Benning left the band to be replaced by JD Samson for the follow-up CD "Feminist Sweepstakes". When Mr. Lady Records closed down, the group switched labels to Universal Records for the 2004 release of "This Island". Le Tigre toured the United States in 2005 and again in 2006, with a small tour of Europe afterwards. They also released two remixed albums before announcing an extended hiatus in January 2007.


Le Tigre is currently on hiatus. According to the Le Tigre website, during her time off from the band Hanna has been volunteering as a band coach for "The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls". She will also be teaching an art class at NYU's grad school in the Fall 2007 semester. [ [http://www.letigreworld.com/sweepstakes/html_newspop/newsflash.html news ] ]


Hanna is married to Adam Horovitz of the hip hop group the Beastie Boys. The two have been together since 1997, marrying in 2006.

Hanna has stated that she is bisexual. [http://www.angelfire.com/mn/newpuritanreview/Archives/BikiniKill.html ]

In interviews, Hanna has openly discussed having an abortion when she was younger, saying, "It was one of the first things I did on my own; I worked at McDonald's, raised the money and did it. I'm really, really passionate about pro-choice, because I wouldn't be here talking to you right now if I'd had a kid at 15." Hanna has expressed her belief that talking about her abortion will encourage other women to openly discuss the topic, lessening social stigmas and creating further political momentum for the pro-choice movement. [http://dir.salon.com/story/mwt/feature/2004/09/20/t_shirts/index.html?pn=2 Salon.com Article]

Hanna has at least three tattoos: writing around her ankle, a star on her inner right calf, and a large black heart on her right upper-arm. The latter covers up a tattoo she had during the early years of Bikini Kill, a heart with a banner that read "Daddy." This tattoo may have been ironic, as Hanna has stated in interviews she does not have much contact with her father.

She cites "Times Square", "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains", "Over the Edge", "Poison", "Born in Flames" and "The Boys in the Band" as some of her favorite movies.Le Tigre official site - our favorite things section]

She cites Margaret Cho, Mary Patten, and Yoko Ono as some of her favorite performers.

Hanna is an atheist. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/19990429161215/http://www.sfbg.com/AandE/32/49/julie.html SFBG Arts and Entertainment: September 9, 1998: Woman vs. rock ] ]

She has collaborated with Juliana Lueking, Atari Teenage Riot, Comet Gain, Joan Jett, The Rickets, Green Day, Metal Church, Mike Watt, Helter Skillet, Internal/External, Yoko Ono, and she appeared as a dancer in Sonic Youth's "Bull in the Heather" music video.

Hanna has appeared in documentaries such as "Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker?" and "Don't Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl", the latter of which is titled after a Bikini Kill song. [www.ackerfilm.com/interviewpartners.html] She also appeared in friend Julia Lueking's series of interviews entitled "People are a Trip". [ [http://youtube.com/watch?v=NFWOzzIIApA&feature=related YouTube - People are a Trip, Example #2 ] ]


* "Art revolves around creating something that isn’t there." – "Under the Radar", Issue 7 [ [http://undertheradarmag.com/bonus_protest.html Under the Radar - Bonus Protest Issue Quotes ] ]

* "You learn that the only way to get rock-star power as a girl is to be a groupie and bare your breasts and get chosen for the night. We learn that the only way to get anywhere is through men. And it's a lie." – "Ms." Magazine, 2000 [ [http://www.msmagazine.com/aug00/shesays.html Ms. Magazine Online ] ]

* "I always thought Bikini Kill had a good sense of humor, too. I think the stereotype about feminists having no sense of humor played into that whole mythology that we weren't a fun band and we weren't fun people and our music didn't have a lot of humor in it. If you go back and listen to it, I'm doing all these characters and I'm being sarcastic and mocking different forms of masculinity that are obnoxious. I don't know. It seems like a laugh riot to me." – 'Feminist, Fun, and Feisty' by Gina Vivinetto, Times Pop Music Critic, 2004 [http://medlem.spray.se/aboutkathleen/in7.html]

* "If your best friend gets it, that's all that matters." [http://medlem.spray.se/aboutkathleen/quotes.html]

* "The whole idea [of riot grrrl] was that women and girls could define what it meant and that there are a million different ways to be feminist or womanist or to be pro-woman or anti-misogyny and that it's not one person can decide that. We didn't want to be a corporation with a mission statement. I think that was an interesting strategy. People are still defining it for themselves." – "Le Tigre Says", Womanrock Magazine, 2003

* "Don't freak out cuz the jigsaw is laying on the floor and it's not all the way done and has been laying there for 4 whole hours now, resist the freak out. You will get to it..it's all part of the process." – "Jigsaw Fanzine", #4 [http://medlem.spray.se/aboutkathleen/jigsaw.html]

* "I don't need to convince men that feminism is important, that just isn't a goal of mine. I can't even have that conversation, of whether or not it's important, because if someone asks me that they're my mortal enemy and I don't want to have a conversation with them until they grow-up." – "Glasgow Women's Library", 2000 [Quotation from 2000 interview with Glasgow Women's Library]

* "Thirteen-year-old girls don't write me letters that end up in the trashcan -- I fucking read 'em, you know what I mean?...That's when the music or the writing works: when they feel inspired by something I did, or my band did, or a friend of mine did, and then they do something and I feel totally inspired back. It's not just like I create this product and they consume it." – "GRRRL TALK: Kathleen Hanna Resurfaces as Julie Ruin", September 1998 [ [http://weeklywire.com/ww/09-28-98/boston_music_2.html Music: Grrrl Talk (The Boston Phoenix . 09-28-98) ] ]

* "I love the part of music, that it can take you over and you can trust it…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 together, with other women feeling inside of themselves." – "Verve", 2001 [ [http://www.drivingvotes.org/blogs/coleen/archives/000235.shtml Coleen's Blog - Rabble-rousing for Regime Change ] ]

In popular culture

*She was mentioned in an episode of "The L Word". A group of friends are playing celebrity at a dinner party, when the character Shane selects her name. Most of the lesbians seem to know it's her from the description, "Le Tigre, and Julie Ruin, Bikini Kill", yet the straight people at the party have no clue who she is. This results in the character of Alice joking, "Oh, she just pretty much started the whole riot grrrl music scene, but hey...", which leaves one straight man asking, "What's the riot grrrl music scene?" This is an allusion to Hanna's cult-following within the Gay community. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ejhZZ4oGO0 "The L Word" clip] ]

*The Pinhead Gunpowder song "Kathleen" was written about her.

*During Beavis and Butthead's review of the music video for "Bull in the Heather" by Sonic Youth, in which Hanna is featured, they believe she's a five-year-old girl who cannot dance.

*Hanna is also the topic of conversation in the Nofx song, "Kill Rock Stars"

*Hanna inspired the name for Nirvana's 1991 breakthrough single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when she spraypainted "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on Kurt Cobain's wall. [ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smells_like_teen_spirit#Origins_and_recording "Smells Like Teen Spirit"] ]


Bikini Kill


*"Revolution Girl Style Now!" self-released cassette (1991)
*"Bikini Kill (EP)" on Kill Rock Stars (1991)
*"Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah" split LP with Huggy Bear on Catcall Records in the UK, Kill Rock Stars in the US (1993)
*"The C.D. Version of the First Two Records", compilation (1993)
*"Pussy Whipped" on Kill Rock Stars (1994)
*"Reject All American" on Kill Rock Stars (1996)


*"New Radio/Rebel Girl" 7" single on Kill Rock Stars (1993)
*"The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation" Single on Kill Rock Stars (1994)
*"I Like Fucking/I Hate Danger" 7" single on Kill Rock Stars (1995)


*"Kill Rock Stars" on Kill Rock Stars LP/CD (1991)
*"Throw: The YoYo Studio Compilation" on YoYo Records (1991)
*"Daddy's Lil' Girl" on Give Me Back LP, Ebullition Records (1991)
*"Suck My Left One" on There's A Dyke In The Pit, Outpunk Records (1992)
*"Bikini Kill: The Singles" (1998)
*"Sinner", Joan Jett, contributes to the songs "Five", "Watersign", "Baby Blue" and "Tube Talkin" (2007)

Julie Ruin

*"Julie Ruin" on Kill Rock Stars (1997)

Le Tigre

Full-Length Albums

*"Le Tigre" on Mr. Lady (1999)
*"Feminist Sweepstakes" on Mr. Lady (2001)
*"This Island" on Universal (2004)

ingles and EPs

*Hot Topic (1999)
*From the Desk of Mr. Lady EP (2001)
*Remix (2003)
*Standing In The Way Of Control 12" split EP with The Gossip on Kill Rock Stars
*This Island Remixes Volume 1 EP, Chicks On Speed Records
*This Island Remixes Volume 2EP, Chicks On Speed Records


*"Real Fiction", The Fakes, Kill Rock Stars
* "Inside Out", Internal External, K Records
*"Featuring...", Internal External, K Records
*"Rock Star / Mean (wordcore v. 1)" as Kathleen Hanna and Slim Moon, Kill Rock Stars [ [http://www.salon.com/audio/2000/10/05/hanna/ Salon.com Audio | Kathleen Hanna ] ]
*"Rock Stars Kill", includes Hanna's "I Wish I Was Him", Various Artists, Kill Rock Stars
*"Ball Hog or Tug Boat?" LP/CD "Heatbeat"-Mike Watt
*"Decomposition 00", Suture, Kill Rock Stars, 1991
*"Suture!", Suture, Kill Rock Stars, 1992
*"Home Alive, The Art Of Self Defense", Epic, 1996, includes "Go Home", written and performed with Joan Jett and Evil Stig
*"Realistes", Comet Gain, Hanna featured on the track "Ripped-Up Suit"
*"Play Pretty For Baby", The Nation of Ulysses, includes backing vocals by Hanna
*"American Idiot", Green Day, the song "Letterbomb" begins with vocals by Hanna as Whatsername
*Viva Knieval 7" single, Ultrasound Records, 1990
*"60 second wipe out" Atari Teenage Riot Hanna featured on lead vocals on the song 'No Success' 1999
*"Playgroup" Playgroup Hanna featured on lead vocals on the song 'Bring it on' 2001
*"Wordy Rappinghood" Chicks on Speed features Hanna on vocals 2003
*"Kiss on the lips" from the album 'Naked' from Joan Jett is a duet with Hanna 2004
*"Hey Hey My My Yo Yo" Junior Senior Hanna featured on the song 'Dance, Chance, Romance' 2007



* [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=Bikini_Kill "Bikini Kill"] #1, #2
* [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=Jigsaw "Jigsaw"] #5, #5.5
* [http://zinewiki.com/index.php?title=April_Fools_Day "April Fools Day"]
*"My life with Evan Dando: Popstar"
*"The Kathleen Hanna newsletter"
*"Le Tigre zine/tour program"


External links

* [http://www.indexmagazine.com/interviews/kathleen_hanna.shtml Laurie Weeks interviews Kathleen Hanna]
* [http://www.salon.com/audio/2000/10/05/hanna/ Salon.com audio "RockStar" mp3]
* [http://www.letigreworld.com/sweepstakes/html_site/fact/khfacts.html Kathleen's Herstory from the Le Tigre site]
*Two interviews with Hanna on the NPR show Fresh Air: [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1111419 one from 2000] , and [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1118659 one from 2001] .
*imdb name | id=0360213 | name=Kathleen Hanna
* [http://kathleenhanna.cjb.net/ Kathleen Hanna site]
* [http://www.msmagazine.com/aug00/shesays.html Kathleen Hanna article in "Ms." Magazine]
* [http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030113/frey/2 Kathleen Interview by Hilary Frey]

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