WATCH: Riot Grrrl Retrospectives - Triumph of Attitude
In a 1999 oral history interview with the Museum of Pop Culture, leaders of the Riot Grrrl movement, including members of the bands Emily's Sassy Lime, Bikini Kill, Kicking Giant, Chalk Circle, Suture, Skinned Teen, and more celebrate the triumph, attitude, and their non-traditional approach to music.
Tobi Vail, Bikini Kill: "I really thought that all the girls would start bands. You know, I just was like, we'll just tell them to do it and we'll help them and they'll want to do it because it'll be really fun."
Emily's Sassy Lime: "Sioux City, Iowa. These basement shows. These really cool girls were there and they came up to us. They're like, 'We want to start a band!' And then we were like, 'Why don't you start it right now?'"
Rachel Carns, Kicking Giant: "So I think that was part of it. Just sort of a nontraditional way of approaching music and not having to feel like you had to know what you were doing in order to be a band. I started out with just one drum and then I got another drum and then I got another drum. I didn't know how to tune my drums for the first three years that I played them. I just hit them. I didn't even know you could tune them."
Sharon Cheslow, Chalk Circle & Suture: "I would have guys come up to me after our shows and say, 'You're good for a girl.' And I thought, 'No, no, no. That's not right.' I should be good because I like what I'm doing. It doesn't even matter if I'm good because that's not what punk's about! It's about the ideas behind it and the passion behind it and the energy behind it."
Layla Gibbons, Skinned Teen: "Like bands just being, 'OK, let's just do a band. And it doesn't matter if we're not any good. It doesn't matter if we make mistakes. Let's just do it anyway, because otherwise we're never going to be bold enough to get on stage.' And it's important that we represent ourselves."
Nikki McClure: "I would go and I would make up these songs during the day, and then like, 'OK, Bikini Kill is playing at the Lucky 7 House, it's two blocks away.' And then I'd run up there with my ukulele and it's like, 'Kathleen! Kathleen! Can I just play this song right now?' And she says, "Sure!" So I would just like play the song and then get it out. And then I'd be done, and I would feel really good."