Kim Gordon would shrug off being called an icon. Which only makes her cooler. But if you have even a cursory knowledge of everything Gordon’s done through her career, you know it’s true. She’s a lead singer of Sonic Youth, the influential 90s rock band founded with her ex, Thurston Moore. She founded multiple side bands like Free Kitten and Body/Head, and created her own lo-fi rock solo music. She once had a fashion line, she’s dabbled in photography, acting, producing — it’s a lot.
A memoir makes sense for someone with that résumé. But Gordon had to be convinced: “I’m always a little leery of turning art without context into a coffee-table book,” she said of No Icon, her visual memoir. But once she decided to go for it, she enjoyed the nostalgia. “It was fun to go back and, at first, scary,” she said. “I’ve seen many bad pictures of myself over the years, but if enough time goes by, you’re detached from it, and maybe see what worked.”
Gordon took the Cut through some of her photos from the book, and shared the stories behind them.
On Her Love of Taylor Kitsch
My friend got me a signed picture of Taylor Kitsch for my birthday. I guess I’m drawn to that sort of inaccessible bad boy. He’s just hot, you know? I liked how he didn’t talk that much, but when he talked there was so much suspense about what was going to come out of his mouth. That was hilarious.
The thing that cracked me up about Friday Night Lights is the opening scene — the female gaze on Tim Riggins’s body. My favorite scene, though, is when he goes to see Landry’s band because Landry’s tutoring him. He shows up and there are, like, five people there. That was just so realistic of your first gig.
Posing in a Toronto Photobooth
My friend and my ex-boyfriend got me this Australian shepherd as a puppy. I’m not really a dog person, but my friend who got me this dog made me into one. When I went to school in Toronto, I took him with me. I’ve never seen another one like him — he’s this blue color, all over.
He lived until he was 18. Then I had another one, who we put down in 2016 — after Trump was elected. He couldn’t take it. Now I have a puppy, who is very handsome.
Hosting a Guerilla Fashion Show with Sofia Coppola
We went to Japan for a long weekend — we’re exhausted, even if we don’t look it. We went to put together an impromptu X-Girl [the 90s label created by Gordon and stylist Daisy Von Furth] fashion show that was going to happen right before a Beastie Boys show, because they were associated with X-Large, which was our parent company. Sofia and I had to find models on the street.
I also had a 5-month-old baby with me. My partner, Daisy, didn’t want to go to Japan because she doesn’t travel well, so I had a nanny with us — an older Japanese woman, who didn’t speak any English. We had to go out to Kawasaki for the fashion show, so we were there all day throwing clothes on these models and doing press. It really was exhausting. I’m always surprised how good we look in this picture. The red lipstick is really working for us.
On the Ocean Blues
I used to go out to this private beach when I was growing up called Latigo, over the hill from Malibu beach. I spent a lot of time there when I was young. Then, as a teenager, we’d go out there and take acid. At the time, I was reading like books like Siddhartha and Alan Watts. I would sit there looking at the ocean, thinking about the river he [Watts in his work] talked about, and I guess I was meditating — or trying to.
Taking acid is supposed to be so enlightening, but then you come down and are like, Am I enlightened? I feel my best when I’m doing something that is bigger than myself, that I can just get lost in. This beach is still a really special place for me. I still drive by it and think about the old days.