My review of Joan Semmel’s solo exhibition at Alexander Gray Associates is up on artforum.com. Semmel emerged as a figurative painter associated with the 1970’s women’s art movement. She is best known for her iconic ”looking down” series and (unofficially named) “fuck paintings.” Visit the artist’s site for more images of her work.
The first time I was in a recording studio was in 1989 when my band Viva Knievel recorded 4 songs in Minneapolis while we were on tour. It was almost the 90’ s, and, being ahead of the curve, we were all freaked out about being documented, plus digital cameras didn’t exist, so I would’ve never thought to photograph the recording process back then.
Why would you? There was no Facebook or Tumblr or band websites back then. Maybe you’d want to document being in the studio for personal reasons, so you could remember, but it seemed like such a pain to me. Buying the film, bringing the camera into the studio, dealing with grouchy hungover bandmates who didn’t feel like having their pictures taken.
Also I was 19 and totally freaked out about being in the studio. It was horrifying when the engineer would solo my voice and force everyone to listen to me shrieking acapella. It’s still hillarious to me remembering that in the 90’s I routinely demanded to not have anyone put reverb or “any other shit” on my voice because I felt it was the equivalent of airbrushing and I wanted to sound like a real girl, not a girl dipped in honey. It’s funny because I was so nervous back then about what people would think of my lyrics and how weird my voice sounded that I can’t believe I refused any attempt at making myself sound more appealing. I just had to let it be painful.
So on Saturday I was walking to the studio to record with my new band, after not having recorded for like 6 years and I was thinking of everything that’s changed. I use reverb now. I’m not as obsessed with “realness” anymore and I am way more excited about recording than I am nervous. I was walking to the studio on cloud nine actually. I wasn’t worried about not sounding good or impressing everyone with my vocals. I was more excited to do my best to inspire the band while they were recording their parts, and just really happy about our songs.
I was also thinking about this thing my Mom told me once about how everyone thinks you are staring at their pimple when really they are worried about their own pimple AKA we are all insecure and once you realize that it, is so much easier to stop caring and just move on, into the moment.
So I brought my camera to the session and didn’t really know what to do with it. I didn’t wanna kill the vibe by taking pictures of Kenny and Carmine and Sara and Kathi while they were playing so I took some self portraits of me fake singing and waiting around, which is a lot of what happens in the studio.
Nowadays everyone in bands records everything. Here we are eating sandwiches, putting new strings on our guitars, holding a koala up in Sydney. I’ve written tour diaries and posted snapshots myself a zillion times now but still it’s hard for me to get used to.
I think I’m gonna try and take more pictures though and stop being so weird about it. I am so excited about our record and I know someday I’ll be happy if I took a couple pictures of the whole thing. Who knows I may even put some of them on Tumblr!!!
My friend Kerrilyn Pamer is the creator and curator of Castor & Pollux, the beautiful shop we are lucky to have as our neighbor just one door down from Seagull Salon. She featured me on her blogLoving.
The first run of the Le Tigre EP “From the Desk of Mr Lady” featured Cathy exasperated on the phone, with a sentence that I wrote in her speech bubble. We got a cease and desist letter for it, so she’s gone from most of the EPs in circulation. But sometimes at early Le Tigre shows I would read the text aloud from a slide projected behind us. I do it in “Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour.”
Who Took the Bomp? LE TIGRE on Tour will be released by Oscilloscope Laboratories on June 7th, 2011 and you can pre-order it now. We love the drawings by Anna Higgie and the essay by Matt Wolf. Check our blog for more Le Tigre news and screenings.