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The provocative agent

TéléMoustique, May 1998. Article by Etienne Tordoir. Translated and transcripted by Vincent Kirsch.


Pure New-Yorker avant-garde product, Sonic Youth is on Geffen but still continues to do a lot of solo experiences and experimental stuff. Their discography is a real labyrinth, with pitfalls, but also lots of pleasant winks. So these last months, Sonic Youth offered themselves a recreation on thier label, SYR. Three maxi's with titles in French, Dutch and Espernto allowed us to discover some preparation of tracks of A Thousand Leaves (Slaapkamers Met Slagroom foreshadows The Ineffable Me, a song in which Kim Gordon's omnipresent voice has fun, nearing falseness, echoing tortured guitars of Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore). From poppy Sunday to tortuous Hits Of Sunshine, A Thousand Leaves bets during 75 minutes to intrigue the great public, continuing to play on precarious equilibrium.

When we have to talk about Sonic Youth, we don't know where to begin the exploration of its galaxy. Is it also so confused in your mind?

Kim : Maybe we're just the negative, the opposite of rock. To find an entryway to our universe, A Thousand Leaves can be OK. As its title says, it groups elements you can find all along our career.

Steve : For me I would have as hard as you have to isolate a precise moment to define Sonic Youth. It's precisely this constant revival which is our motor. Moreover, as we are three singers, the possibilities are almost infinite. Without considering ourselves as jazz musicians - we don't have their technique - we are sometimes similar to them. I don't think you can define the work of Miles Davis or John Coltrane with only a few words.

In the past, jazzmen recorded all their concerts. Are you also interested in instant creations testimony?

Kim: As we posess our own studio [in Hoboken, New York], we have more time to fiese a song's structure or improvise. Sometimes we thought it was too bad nobody could hear those tracks. So we decided to let a recorder work to keep some important moments. We sometimes felt like we reach a top, but also to be unable to get it again. Those outlines allow also to know where we come from and to keep the essential.

The first title, Contre Le Sexisme, and then Female Mechanic Now On Duty give a femistic coloration to the album.

Kim: Everything comes from a dissatisfaction. When I heard Bitch of Meredith Brooks for the first time, I've been chocked. Whe she sings "I'm a lover, a sister, a mother, a bitch, an angel, etc.", she reduces once again women to the same clichés. She forgets the mathematician, the science women and even the female truck drivers. As I talked about it with Thurston (her husband and father of their 4-years-old-daughter Coco) and remembering the scenario of a Godard film, I wanted to write a song on the theme "Do modern women have the right to cry?" I can't bear that media, especially female magazines, pretend to define women within a few words. We are as complex and changing as men!
 

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