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(Soundbite of song)

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) Rebel girl. Rebel girl. Rebel girl, you are the queen of my world.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

That's Kathleen Hanna. She used to be the singer with a punk band called Bikini Kill. It was part of the feminist riot grrl movement in music and culture. If you don't know the riot grrl movement, sometimes the band would ask the men in the audience to stand in back. Now Ms. Hanna is singing different tunes in a pop group called Le Tigre. As part of the NPR series Musicians in Their Own Words, she talks about her musical beginnings.

Ms. KATHLEEN HANNA: My friend, Heidi, who--some guy had, like, followed her home. She'd carried a matchbook in her hand, like, thinking that was gonna be her weapon. And I thought it was so sad the thought of her with this little matchbook, sneaking through the alley, trying to make it to her apartment while this guy was following her, and my main thing was that I really wanted to sing about all of the things I'd held back my whole life. I wanted to finally sing about, like, sexual violence.

(Soundbite of "Liar")

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) Betty's got the back of her dress all ripped out. Mama's got her face muffled. Twist and shout. You're a liar.

I was living in Olympia among so many nouveau hippies who were, like, `Energy goes both ways, man. Women can oppress men, too.' Or, you know, I was always hearing that reverse sexism argument. And that frustration, I think, came out in that song, having Toby scream over it.

(Soundbite of "Liar")

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) All we are...

TOBY: (Screams)

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) ...saying is...

TOBY: (Screams)

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) ...give peace a chance.

(Soundbite of knocking sound)

Unidentified Woman: Is the lady of the house at home?

Ms. HANNA: When I was still in Bikini Kill, and we were kind of winding down as a band, I wanted to learn about sampling, so I got a sampler and it's sort of the `what happened when the girl from Bikini Kill got a sampler.'

(Soundbite of song)

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) ...(Unintelligible).

Ms. HANNA: All I wanted to do was learn how to listen to my own voice.

(Soundbite of song)

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) ...(Unintelligible).

Ms. HANNA: Play around with all these effects I felt like I couldn't play around with before, and just languish in it.

(Soundbite of song)

BIKINI KILL: (Singing) Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Ms. HANNA: What's really funny about sampling is, like, originally I had wanted to use it in a much more kind of obviously political way. I had thought `This is great. I can take some sexist song and I can play witch laughter over it.' But in the end a lot of those experiments, they didn't sound good. They were more like audio art, and I don't sit around in my apartment and listen to audio art, 'cause it's boring and the stuff I like listening to is pop music.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HANNA: So now I'm in a band with Johanna Fateman and J.D. Samson. It's called Le Tigre. And it's really different from being in a punk band.

(Soundbite of song)

LE TIGRE: (Singing) I've got, I've got, I've got, I've got, I've got, I've got...

Ms. HANNA: We have, like, computers and keyboards, and there's this really great freedom of standing there, and I could play guitar into the computer for three hours and then we sit there and edit it together.

(Soundbite of song)

LE TIGRE: (Singing) ...(Unintelligible).

Ms. HANNA: When we work together, it's, like, starts with show and tell. Everybody usually brings in like drum beats and samples and stuff that they're just attracted to. And then people are, like, `Oh, I really love that.' `That's the beginning of a song. And that's the beginning of a song. I have an idea. I want that one.'

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. HANNA: And sometimes we get stuck and I'm, like, `I sang on this, but I feel like the beat's not right,' and so I'll give it to Jo or J.D. and I'll go home and make a new beat.

(Soundbite of "On the Verge")

LE TIGRE: (Singing) Play it so safe to stay on top. Shake it, imitate it, but it still sounds old.

Ms. HANNA: We kind of wanted to write something that was like our version of that song "We're An American Band."

(Soundbite of "On the Verge")

LE TIGRE: (Singing) Backstage, everybody wants a piece of J.D. Kathleen's on the phone and I got to go get paid. See, promoter's making small talk. He says we knocked his socks off. Cinna-mint, Internet, Cinnamon and Butter-buns!

Ms. HANNA: Even though it's, like, fraggy and like we're this great band and we're on tour or whatever, to me it seems like political or whatever in the sense that we're saying that we have the right to assert ourselves as that, to act like `Oh, of course we're gonna write a song about being a feminist band on tour. Doesn't everybody really want to know?'

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: Kathleen Hanna, from the NPR series Musicians in Their Own Words, produced by David Schulman and NPR's Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr. And there's more on Kathleen Hanna and this series at our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of song)

LE TIGRE: (Singing) She got ...(unintelligible) drag you down. That girl, she holds her head up so high...

CHADWICK: This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. More just ahead.

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