kim gordon, the brash and enigmatic female member of sonic youth was born in southern california in 1953. her father, a professor of sociology and education, taught at ucla; her mother, a tailor, worked out of the home. in 1980, after graduating from the otis college of art and design, gordon moved to new york. she arrived in gotham at a time when it seemed that the punk movement had enjoyed its fifteen minutes in the spotlight and warhol had disproven his own hypothesis by extending his into its second decade. gordon first put her art degree to use by creating installation pieces and writing for artforum magazine. her experimentation with physical art was soon sidetracked by her interest in music. in 1981, with then-boyfriend thurston moore and lee renaldo, gordon formed a band, influenced by the drone-rock culture that emerged from the ruins of punk rock. born from this union was sonic youth"sonic" from the sonic rendezvous band and "youth" from big youth.
while gordon may have began her musical career with only rudimentary bass-playing skills her determination and innovation quickly established her as a force with which to be reckoned. while gordon claims that her winding up playing bass is the result of the climate of punk music at the time, she, no doubt, could have picked up any instrument and wound up where she is today. immediately, sonic youth began producing music that has been described, by some, as "perfect noise". tuning their instruments to acheive sounds never before produced as or considered music, gordon and her bandmates began to make a name for themselves on the underground scene. lyrically, gordon has become a voice of feminism without becoming subsumed by the movement. while dealing with issues such as rape, anorexia, sexual harassment and supermodels, she has been able to maintain a certain reserve. her austere persona paints a picture of gordon more as a warrior than a survivor. unlike artists such as tori amos and courtney love, whose railings against the patriarchy seem violently personal, gordon seem almost above the issues about which she sings; it's almost as if her strength has completely shielded her from the pain she witnesses in the women around her. perhaps the best example of this is the song "tunic (song for karen), from the 1990 album goo. "i feel like i'm disappearing/getting smaller every day/but when i open my mouth to sing/i'm bigger in every way," she sang, almost channeling the spirit of karen carpeneter as she struggled to balance her desire to pursue her career as a drummer and her success as the front-woman of the 1970s pop duo, the carpenters.
gordon graciously rejects the title of godmother of the riot grrrl. while supportive of the washington-born female punk movement that has fostered groups such as bikini kill and L7, gordon feels the title is mistakenly applied to her. all modesty aside, however, there is no denying that, regardless of the degree of influence that gordon had on these grrrls, she clearly embodies the spirit of the movement. not only has gordon created a sucessful career as a musician, she has released a line of clothing called x-girl and started a family with husband thurston moore and daughter coco. never forgetting her roots, gordon has continued her study of the alchemy of performance and pop culture. she followed up her musical exploration of madonna's success with the film 1991: the year punk broke, a parody of madonna's truth or dare. gordon has also appeared, with sonic youth, in the animated television series, the simpsons. other musical endeavors include producing hole's first album, pretty on the inside, briefly forming the sometimes-bands harry crews, with lydia lunch, and free kitten, and co-directing a music video by the breeders. having mastered the bass, gordon has began studying the lead guitar, which she plays on washing machine and a thousand leaves.