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Artwork by Richard Prince from the Sonic Youth album, Sonic Nurse, 2004

Politics, Art, MusicIn America it’s hard to be political at all really. You know, it’s so consumerist orientated or geared toward comfort. Offering some sort of enjoyment of expression that’s geared away from mall culture, shopping culture, is the only way to be political in America. Unless you’re Fugazi, or something.

AdvertisingWe actually once did a song for Picabo Street, the downhill skier, and then she broke her leg and they didn’t use it. I’ve been interested in car ads for a while. It was kind of like ad copy, but I was listening too. Right before I came over to do this performance, they were playing this Volvo commercial and it had a Bob Dylan song in it, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, and that just blew me away, I have to say.Favourite music video
Well, I was a huge fan of this early LL Cool J video, ‘Going Back To Cali’. Then there was this Rob Base video, which was just this girl. It was super-lo-fi, and it was just this girl, insistently dancing, just like dancing to the camera—it’s kind of dark and quirky. Art versus sound-art at home
Wow. Maybe a Jack Olson. And I feel my house is a bunch of sound-art. Thurston [Moore, husband and bandmate] is always playing. In his office he has one of those old-fashioned cassette players and he’s been playing, like, noise tapes out of it. And then we have this dog named Merzbow, who, er, barks.Life-changing art
I can’t really think of anything. I was at the Dada show recently in Paris. That was pretty great but I don’t know if it was life-changing.

Life-changing music When I saw DNA play in New York that was pretty great. And The Static, Glenn Branca’s first early band, with Barbara Ess and Chrissie Hahn.i-Pod
There’s a lot of old music on it: Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, M.I.A., different stuff.

Album covers
Richard Prince had a show a couple of years ago and we really liked his paintings. Thurston and I are always really on the same wavelength—he suggested one of them for the cover of our record Sonic Nurse . I liked the way they were painted. You know, I’ve always liked those pulp paperbacks. I thought it was ambiguously misogynist—it wasn’t necessarily quite acceptable. And you know, when I called Richard he was like, ‘Oh, I was listening to [Sonic Youth album] Murray Street while I was doing those paintings.’ The Gerhard Richter cover for our album Daydream Nation was the same. I had met him and I loved those little candle paintings—talk about a piece of art I’d like in my house! They were quite small, so the scale seemed like it would really work on record cover. And the fact that the painting looks so conservative, that was sort of good in a way.Work in the Tate showWell it’s sort of Dada, although that was kind of an afterthought. It’s sort of architectural. When I first saw the space I thought it was so huge, so the idea of a tent just dealt with the space in a certain way. Jutta [Koether] and I had done a collaborative show together in Kenny Schachter’s space in New York. Vito Acconci had designed the inside and it had all this awful metal mesh. Art looked really bad on it, but it looked like an 80s-style club and we called it ‘Club In The Shadow’. We had acoustic foam squares and a video lounge right by the West Side Highway at the end of an alley, right by this Richard Myer tower and these two towers which were still under construction. People like Calvin Klein and Martha Stewart had bought apartments in them. We liked the idea of this being like a neighbourhood art club. So we had things happening twice a week and people just hung out in the alley. It was really great.

Sound-art and music crossover
I don’t think of myself as a sound artist. I think of myself really as a visual artist, a conceptual artist. You know, I am who I am, so I can do whatever I want. But I’ve definitely always had this thing of not wanting to be perceived as dilettante.Records versus galleriesSure there’s a difference. Though I think there are people, like Elisa from Magik Markers, who should be considered in the same category. I mean she’s almost a performance artist.

Kim Gordon was interviewed by Cedar Lewisohn. Her work appeared in Tate Modern’s ‘Her Noise’ exhibition in 2005