Kim Gordon Biography

Bassist, Songwriter, Singer (1953–)
Kim Gordon is the bass player for the band Sonic Youth as well as an artist and clothing designer.


Along with future husband Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon formed influential experimental rock band Sonic Youth in 1981. Gordon also started a clothing line, X-Girl, in 1991 and another, Mirror/Dash, some years later. With Sonic Youth still making records, Gordon continues to explore many different types of creative endeavors, whether it's art or music or fashion.

Early Life

Born on April 28, 1953, in Rochester, New York, Kim Gordon, perhaps best known for her band Sonic Youth, has broad range of talents, ranging from art to music to clothing design. She grew up in Los Angeles as the daughter of a professor and a seamstress.

At first, Gordon pursued her passion for art. She graduated from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. It was through an art project that she first developed an interest in music. Gordon participated in a piece of performance art that involved an all-girl band. Around this time, she met musician Thurston Moore. The two, along with Lee Ranaldo, formed the band Sonic Youth in 1981.

The band's early recordings were experimental, more art made of noise than conventional music. One critic said their work "mainly consisted of feedback and ringing harmonics." In addition to exploring new ways to make music, Gordon became a contributor to Artforum as well. She also continued to make her own art.

In 1984, Gordon and Moore married, and their band soon began to enjoy some critical success. Sonic Youth received strong reviews for such albums as Bad Moon Rising (1985) and Daydream Nation (1988) and developed its own following. In 1990, the group released Goo, their major label debut. The album actually made the charts as did their next efforts, 1992's Dirty and 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star—their most commercially successful recording to date.

Other Career Ventures

Outside of her work with Sonic Youth, Gordon started her own musical side project called Free Kitten, with Julie Cafritz in 1992. The pair was joined by drummer Yoshimi the following year. Around that same time, Gordon launched the clothing line X-Girl with Daisy von Furth.

In 1994, Gordon also saw changes in her personal life with the birth of her daughter, Coco. She didn't let motherhood slow her down much, though. She and the rest of the band participated in the alternative rock tour Lollapalooza the following year. While Sonic Youth enjoyed a wider popularity in the mid-to-late 1990s, they never abandoned their avant-garde roots or interest in experimental music. They formed the SYR record label around this time to release their own unusual efforts.

With her cool, edgy look, Gordon served as a model for designer Marc Jacobs in 1998. She also helped others obtain some of her unique style with the clothing line Mirror/Dash, named for her and her husband's nicknames. "There's a need for clothes for cool moms," Gordon told The New York Times. The line debuted in 2008.

The following year, Sonic Youth released their 16th album, The Eternal. Gordon attracted some notice around this time for her artwork as well. In 2010, she had a book of her paintings published under the title Performing/Guzzling. Gordon created abstract impressions of audiences on rice paper, sharing her perspective as a musician onstage with the viewer. "I've always been interested in the relationship between performer and audience," she told WWD.

Gordon continues to explore many different types of creative endeavors these days, whether it's art or music or fashion. She and her husband run the independent music label Ecstatic Peace, and she has partnered with Sportmax for a fall 2011 clothing line. Gordon lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

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