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Le Tigre performing in 2004
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
|Years active||1998–2011, 2016|
|Past members||Sadie Benning|
Le Tigre ( //) is an American electronic rock band from the United States, formed by Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill) and Johanna Fateman in 1998 in New York City. It also featured Sadie Benning from 1998 until 2001 and JD Samson for the rest of the group's run. Le Tigre is known for its left-wing sociopolitical lyrics, dealing with issues of feminism and the LGBT community.
Initially envisioned as a live backup band for Hanna's solo project Julie Ruin, Le Tigre mixed the politics and feminism of riot grrrl with electronic samples and lo-fi beats. Other members included Fateman and Samson. Samson joined Le Tigre as a full member when co-founder Benning left the band before touring the first album and Samson filled in for her on the tour and eventually joined the band full-time. Samson had previously worked with the band as a roadie and the operator of the band's slide show during the few live performances the band did in support of their first record before Benning's departure. The self-proclaimed "underground electro-feminist performance artists" combined visuals, music and dance in their performances. Samson is a gay rights activist, and the excerpts in "New Kicks" are from an actual protest that Samson recorded herself. Hanna is a public speaker, artist, and now plays with the band The Julie Ruin. Fateman is an accomplished writer and painter.
The song "Hot Topic" on Le Tigre's self-titled debut pays tribute to dozens of visual artists, musicians, writers, feminists and others who have inspired them. Among those mentioned are: Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, Aretha Franklin, Vaginal Davis, Yayoi Kusama, Angela Davis, Sleater-Kinney, The Slits, Gretchen Phillips, Billy Tipton, Mab Segrest, Leslie Feinberg, Faith Ringgold, Eileen Myles, Juliana Luecking, Laura Cottingham, James Baldwin, Marlon Riggs, David Wojnarowicz, Justin Bond and Hanna's close friend, Tammy Rae Carland. In a similar fashion the song "FYR" off the album Feminist Sweepstakes is a tribute to the chapter and ideals put forth in Shulamith Firestone's Fifty Years of Ridicule in her 1970 feminist work The Dialectic of Sex. Their debut album contains a sample of an essay written by Mark Rothko in response to a negative review in 1942 where he debuted the style he would become famous for.
The first three recordings by the band (two albums and an EP) were released in the U.S. on the independent record label Mr. Lady Records, run by Kaia Wilson of The Butchies and her girlfriend, artist Tammy Rae Carland. In Germany, the second album, Feminist Sweepstakes (2001), came out on Chicks on Speed's record label. These recordings were also issued by independent labels in other countries. The album This Island (2004) was Le Tigre's first on a major label (Universal Records). Ric Ocasek of the Cars produced one track, "Tell You Now." Even after signing with Universal, Le Tigre continued to work with independent labels. In 2005 they released This Island Remixes with Chicks on Speed.
In the second half of 2006, the band decided to take an extended break starting early 2007.
Since then Hanna has participated in The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and taught an art class at New York University. Samson toured as keyboard player with Peaches and made many DJ appearances, while Fateman has kept busy with a hairdressing salon in New York City's Greenwich Village. In 2008 Samson and Fateman formed a new project, MEN, to do a DJ tour and record. After doing some remix work, Fateman took time off to have a baby, and Samson recruited the members of her side band Hirsute to perform live under that name. With input from Fateman and Emily Roysdon an album has been recorded but is, as yet, unreleased. The band has toured Europe and is currently touring North America.
In September 2016, the band announced they were reuniting just for a “special song” to be released in October 2016.
In popular culture
Le Tigre collaborated with Chicks on Speed on the song "Wordy Rappinghood" from their album 99 Cents in 2003 along with other female musicians such as Miss Kittin, Kevin Blechdom, ADULT.'s Nicola Kuperus, and Tina Weymouth of the Tom Tom Club. "Wordy Rappinghood" became a moderate dance hit in Europe, peaking at number five on the Belgian Dance Chart, and at number sixty-six on the UK Singles Chart.
In 2014, Hitt Records released the Roxy Beach 2 LP featuring the song "Savage Tan," described as a possible answer song to Le Tigre's "Hot Topic.
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