Kim Gordon might not be playing with Sonic Youth, but she has been busy lately. She is currently working on a memoir, just returned playing a music festival in London, and continues to work in the arts both as curator and artist. Gordon was the center of attention at a Brooklyn-based show titled Issue Project Room, which caught the attention of The Wall Street Journal, among others. She has also teamed up with fellow Northampton, Mass., resident Bill Nace in a new musical collaboration, Body/Head, who released their album in September, and who will perform Saturday at MASS MoCA.
“I guess it’s nice that people care about what I’m doing,” Gordon said in a telephone interview. “It’s been great to get so much appreciation or recognition, I certainly can’t complain.”
Gordon explains that the Body/Head collaboration with Nace came as a surprise to her, especially since she has been enjoying every aspect of their work together.
“I really wasn’t actually thinking about making music, I was thinking more of concentrating on the art practice, which I’ve been doing over the last 30 years as well, more in the last 10 years,” she says. “But I just started playing with Bill and I really liked it, it’s fun to play and I enjoy playing with him. It’s very free.”
Gordon has been working on art since she graduated from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.
“I don’t have any shows coming up right now. I just got done with a venture at a gallery called White Columns,” Gordon says. That show, titled Design Office, was a retrospective of visual art work she has created since 1980.
Gordon says she enjoys living near Northampton, especially since it gave her a break from New York City and a good childhood home for her daughter Coco (who is away from home studying at the Art Institute of Chicago).
“I have a lot of good friends here,” she says. “It’s kind of interesting to live outside of New York, having lived there so long being in the center—it’s interesting to live somewhere where you’re not in the center. It was a good place for our daughter to be raised. Now I’m not sure where I’m going to live. I don’t actually have to be here all the time.”
Throughout her career, Gordon has helped numerous musicians get their start. Most notably, Sonic Youth played a part in signing Nirvana to DGC in the early 1990s. Gordon says she now spends her time becoming acquainted with older, less-known acts.
“I’ve been just discovering stuff like experimental singer Catherine Ribeiro. I was just listening to Merry Clayton’s record, Gimme Shelter, who was one of the backup singers for the Rolling Stones. I also like PJ Harvey.”
Gordon does have some words of advice to young musicians, although she notes that things are different now than when Sonic Youth first recorded their mini-LP back in 1981.
“If I was starting out playing music now, I wouldn’t really know what to do. You do it because you love it. There are some people I guess who achieve success because they are just incredibly driven and they go after it and they are more interested in being famous than anything else. Then there are other people that like to actually make music. It’s more about their music than it is about entertainment. Everybody loves an audience, but to what degree do you want an audience? My only advice really is to be careful what you wish for.”
Gordon says that the Body/Head performance at MASS MoCA will be a unique experience.
“It’s not going to sound like the record because the record is improvised also. It’s shaped but there’s not like there are songs we wrote that we are now going to replicate. It is a completely naked experience, more like episodes than songs, more cinematic.”
Body/Head will perform Saturday (Dec. 14) at 8 PM at MASS MoCA (87 Marshall St., North Adams, Mass.). Tickets are $25. For more info, call (413) 662-2111.