Toronto
2 min

Dancing at the revolution

Twenty-first century Emma Goldmans

FANS OF FANS. Connecting to their audience keeps JD Samson, Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman of Le Tigre honest and energized. Credit: Julie Grandegger/Lisa Max

Having just finished up a six-week stint in Europe, Le Tigre is already back on the road with a three-week, 11-show North American whirlwind tour: “It’s the summer vacation tour!” laughs band member and zinester extraordinaire Johanna Fateman. The trio, which includes legendary riot grrrl punk queen Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill and Julie Ruin fame) and Dykes Can Dance founder JD Samson, will make a one-night pit stop at Toronto’s Opera House on Sun, Aug 25.



Promoting both October 2001’s release of Feminist Sweepstakes and February 2002’s release of Le Tigre: Remix, the upcoming show promises to rival last year’s multimedia disco-punk fest. “We’ve moved from slides to video. We learned how to use Final Cut Pro and we bought a video projector,” says Fateman. “We’ve definitely got some new surprises in store.”



It’s Le Tigre’s ongoing commitment to metamorphoses that spawned their six-song Remix release. Initially imagined as a remixed compilation of various riot grrrl tracks, Le Tigre: Remix features a bevy of underground spin queens (including Fateman herself, under her solo project alias, Swim With The Dolphins), and offers up a raving techno soundscape that fuses Le Tigre’s political pop punk disco with drum ‘n’ bass beats per minute. It’s all part of a larger project: catalytic fuel for the feminist dance revolution.



“We have this idea that dancing is sort of absent from riot grrrl and post-riot grrrl culture – everything is all very rock-oriented. And we feel like, ‘Wow, what would it be like to have this public space, an event where people dance with each other instead of simply watching someone else perform? What kind of release would that be?’



“Riot Grrrl: The Remixes is a fantasy project that we’d still love to do. Practically it just wasn’t happening, so we figured we’d get the ball rolling and get people to start thinking about crossing genres.”



And that’s how Le Tigre maintains stamina, with an eye perpetually bent towards the evolution of revolution. “We do get tired,” says Fateman. “It’s really difficult to stay energized and committed to being in a feminist community, because that can be so painful, difficult and tedious at moments. A way out of those feelings is to keep moving forward artistically, instead of getting bogged down with the same creative processes. We’re interested in bringing together new processes and always getting inspired differently, through literature or cinema, for example.”



The most poignant source of their inspiration, however, is their fan base. Le Tigre’s dedication to “preaching to the converted” makes space for pleasure within politics, generating a feminist hedonism like no other. “For the ladies and the fags yeah/ We’re the bad with the rollerskate jams,” sings the band on its tour theme. Says Fateman: “If you write a song, you address someone: yourself, a friend. And it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything weird or transgressive. But then within the context of our larger culture, no one is making music for feminists and queers. We’re just doing what feels right for us.”



As media coverage flourishes and their iconic cult superstardom threatens to burst its seams, Le Tigre’s commitment to their fans remains their priority. “I think that the important question is how to maintain a sense of accessibility and reality – how to not be this distant pop star,” says Fateman. “We try to answer all of our mail and always be really approachable. To keep ourselves sane, we don’t emphasize us being performers. We’re more interested in nurturing a culture that’s participatory, where the audience isn’t this set of static consumers.



“We want to be a part of a vibrant culture that makes art and discourse in really interesting ways. We want to be a part of something, not the something itself.”



Le Tigre plays the Opera House (735 Queen St E) on Sun, Aug 25, with DJ Miss Barbrafisch and Mary Timony opening; doors at 8pm. Tix are $15 for this all ages event; call (416) 466-0313.