The Skinny On... Kathleen Hanna

Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna(!!) takes on this month's Q&A, telling us about some vital projects she's involved in as well as which celebrity she could take in a fight

Feature by Kathleen Hanna | 11 May 2022
  • Bikini Kill @ Palladium

What’s your favourite place to visit?
Mexico City because my life was forever made better by the work of Luis Barragán and many of his projects are there. There's also so many fascinating historical sites and the best food I’ve ever eaten.

What’s your favourite colour?
Pink and red together because they vibrate.

Who was your hero growing up?
Billie Jean King because she helped pass the law that allowed girls to do sports in school which meant I finally got to run super fast and play soccer.

Whose work inspires you now?
I love the band Problem Patterns because they make weird music for right now that sounds like no one else and I am addicted.

What’s your favourite meal to cook at home?
I just put spinach, garbanzo beans and any leftover vegetables in a bowl with olive oil and lemon and mix it up. I like it because it is fast and healthy and utilises leftovers. Also I have THE BEST OLIVE OIL AT MY HOUSE.

What three people would you invite to a dinner party?
There’s no party, it’s just me and Christopher Walken.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?
I saw You Light up My Life, a movie based on the hit song by the same name starring Didi Conn when I was 11 and I started crying so hard my Mum had to take us out of the theatre. When we got to the car she asked why I was crying and I said: “Because people spent money making that."

What’s your favourite album?
I love Isaac Hayes' Live at The Sahara Tahoe because he not only leads a fully orchestrated band and sings beautifully but he tells great lead-in stories for many songs. As a feminist musician dudes have always yelled at me to “just shut up and play” when I’m telling a story; Hayes reminded me that this is actually a valuable part of a musician's performance and that I should keep doing it. He also motivated me to add more humour and get better at banter.

How have you stayed inspired since the beginning of the pandemic?
I got very depressed, barely exercised and ate shitty food during most of the pandemic. The only thing that kept me at all inspired was doing creative stuff for my T-shirt company Tees4Togo (each shirt I sell sends a girl in Togo, West Africa to school for a year). Making videos and designing new shirts and doing press for this project helped me feel like I was involved in something positive while the US was plummeting into a white supremacist, trans-hating, anti-woman vortex.

What book would you read if you had to self-isolate for the next ten days?
I would read Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit. It’s about untold histories about how people in various places got together and did things that ultimately had progressive impacts. She really makes a good case for staying commited to doing our best in a shitty world.

What are you most scared of?
Being eaten by an alligator because what if I was swimming and all of a sudden these fucking eyes popped outta nowhere and then I am being rolled really fast and I almost pass out and then my head is in its mouth and…

Which celebrity could you take in a fight?
I'm a lover not a fighter, but I could probably take Danny DeVito down.

If you could be reincarnated as an animal which animal would it be?
Whatever bird that lives the longest and can fly.

Our issue this month focuses on workers' rights. Do you think festivals are doing enough in terms of promoting diversity and gender balance on their lineups? If not, what should they be doing to get girls and more people from minority backgrounds to the front?
Many festivals are doing way better from what I can see, but most are still very lopsided. I’m not an expert in this stuff but it seems like having more LGBTQ, BIPOC people as the curators would be a great first step.

After many cancellations, your extensive run of tour dates with Bikini Kill is finally set to commence at the end of April, with a date in Glasgow this June. What else does 2022 have in store?
Me and Kathi Wilcox just played on this stellar benefit record Bikini Kill’s new guitar player Erica Dawn Lyle put together during COVID. It has Kelley Deal, Kim Gordon, Brontez Purnell and a bunch of other amazing artists on it and is actually, dare I say it, a really really good record. It's coming out on 7 June. It's only going to be available as a download on Bandcamp so all proceeds go directly to NEFOC, an indigenous and POC-led grassroots group that helps POC/Indigenous farmers acquire land and administer it as collectively owned land trusts. They also lobby corporate landholders to simply give land back to Indigenous tribes.

Bikini Kill play O2 Academy, Glasgow, 12 Jun