Kathleen Hanna

Kathleen Hanna

As the frontwoman for Bikini Kill and one of the founders of the riot grrrl zine, Kathleen Hanna was one of the linchpins of the Riot Grrrl movement that came out of the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s. She was born in Portland, Oregon, She moved to Olympia, Washington in the '80s, to become a student at Evergreen State College. After a short-lived band called Viva Knievel, Hanna formed Bikini Kill in 1990 with Billy Karren (guitar), Kathi Wilcox (bass), and Tobi Vail (drums). The band self-released the album Revolution Girl Style Now on cassette in 1991. The band's fiercely DIY, feminist approach to punk helped became part of a regional scene dubbed Riot Grrrl, which was also the name of the zine that Hanna started around the same time with members of kindred spirits Bratmobile. In 1992 the Kill Rock Stars label released Bikini Kill's self-titled EP, produced by Fugazi's Ian Mackaye. The following year saw the release of the band's first full album for KRS, Pussy Whipped. By this point, the Riot Grrrl scene was gaining enough widespread notoriety that Bikini Kill was able to get one of their inspirations, Joan Jett, to produce the "Rebel Girl" single. After becoming enormously influential in their own right, Bikini Girl split up following the 1996 album Reject All American. Hanna subsequently moved to New York and co-founded Le Tigre in 1998 with Sadie Benning and Johanna Fateman. Incorporating as much of an activist sociopolitical sensibility as Bikini Kill, they combined punk influences with electronics and dance beats. Their 1999 debut album put them at the forefront of the electroclash movement. They released two more albums, 2001's Feminist Sweepstakes and 2004's Feminist Island, before splitting. Hanna started The Julie Ruin in 2010, and the band released its debut album, Run Fast, in 2013. After a long hiatus during which she struggled with a serious case of Lyme disease, Hanna reemerged for the band's second album, 2016's Hit Reset.