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Baker's Dozen

Musical Memoir: Kathleen Hanna's Favourite Albums
Milene Larsson , August 10th, 2016 09:12

Following the release of The Julie Ruin's new album, Hit Reset, last month, the musician, activist and founding member of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre talks Milene Larsson through 13 favourite records that changed her life


Isaac Hayes – Live At The Sahara Tahoe
This album is a big one for me. My friend Michael Diamond from the Beastie Boys introduced me to it. He visited me in Portland and I took him to this record store that was $1 per record and it was just bins and bins of records. He said, "Oh my god, you should totally get this, it's a great record", so I got it. In it, Isaac Hayes is leading an orchestra and he's also at the piano and he's talking in between songs telling funny stories. So it's almost a cabaret performance. I didn't know what that was when I got the record. Well, I kind of did, as my uncle was a drag queen. But it was the fact that he would tell stories that would lead into a song. I had done that in Bikini Kill but people were just like, "Shut up and just sing your song!" and I was like, "No! What if I specifically made it a part of the show and had things I was going to talk about?" His stories would turn from tragic to funny. It really validated what I was doing but he was doing it better. I thought, instead of trying not to do it so I don't get shit I should just do it better. Keep doing it and doing it even better and make it more part of the show instead of less.

The other huge thing was, "Why don't I get to work with an orchestra? Why don't I get to work with really talented people and be like, 'No, let's change it to the key of B' like, 'This key would be better for my voice' and have people who really know what they're doing?" I'm in that band now – not an orchestra, but I'm working with musicians where I'm like, "Hey, can we do this song for my sweet spot vocally?" I'm not the leader in the way that Isaac Hayes was on that album. That record really made me question why I didn't think of myself as someone able to work with people who can talk about things being sharp or flat.