It's tempting to call Kathleen Hanna, face of the Riot Grrl movement, an icon for “a certain generation,” but it's really not true. An informal survey of teenage girls suggests that, amongst a certain crowd, the process of discovering Bikini Kill and the rest of Hanna's oeuvre — blasting her music in headphones in your room late at night, using her lyrics as lighter fluid for a growing sense of what's unequal in the world, of where the cards are stacked and why — that's timeless.
For me, it was 1997's Julie Ruin, a determinedly lo-fi, sample-heavy solo record she put out between Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, that stayed on repeat. A third-wave feminist manifesto disguised as an introspective indie-pop record, its Wikipedia page rightly and hilariously notes that the album “touches upon feminism, crocheting, aerobics, and resisting police abuse.” Most of the 14 tracks sound, somehow charmingly, like they were recorded through a sock.
Nine years after we last heard from Le Tigre — a time period in which Hanna married Adam Horowitz of the Beastie Boys, became the subject of a documentary, curated an entire Riot Grrl collection at NYU's library, and fought a serious battle with Lyme disease, among other things — the singer is putting out new music under the name “The Julie Ruin.” Run Fast is a full-band album, with Bikini Kill's Kathi Wilcox, Kenny Mellman, Carmine Covelli, and Sara Landeau rounding out the sound, while Hanna's unmistakable verve cuts through as strong as ever. Ahead of their show at Slim's this Tuesday, Sept. 17, she answered some questions from the road.