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On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a pair of women who came up together during one of the most exciting musical eras ever, and who’ve got the stories to prove it: Gina Birch and Vivien Goldman.
Birch started the Raincoats with friends from a London art college in 1977, stepping right into the burgeoning punk scene with records that were notoriously challenging in a scene not known for being particularly welcoming to women to begin with. The Raincoats were never poppy enough to flirt with the mainstream, but thanks to Kurt Cobain, the band had a bit of a resurrection in the mid-1990s. At Cobain’s behest, Nirvana’s American label re-released the Raincoats catalog, complete with liner notes by Cobain, and the band subsequently made its first album in over a decade. They were even set to tour with Nirvana in Europe, but Cobain’s death scuppered that plan. But Birch didn’t slow down; she set out on a filmmaking career while still pursuing music; she even made music videos for the likes of New Order and The Libertines. Later this year, Birch’s paintings will accompany a hardbound volume of Sharon Van Etten’s lyrics. Just recently, Jack White’s Third Man Records came calling, and it reignited Birch’s musical endeavors: This week marks the release of her first proper solo album, called I Play My Bass Loud. Check out the title track right here.
Vivien Goldman is known more as a writer than as a musician, but she’s done both of those things and much, much more. She worked in PR for Bob Marley and the Wailers way back when—and she lives part of the time in Jamaica nowadays, which is where she Zoomed in from. At the height of the punk boom, she released an influential single called “Launderette” before transitioning more into writer and journalist mode: She was the editor of influential UK music paper Sounds and co-wrote the Massive Attack song “Sly.” She was also roommates with Chrissie Hynde and, more important to this conversation, Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records, which is how she got to know Gina Birch. These days, Goldman has been teaching about the history of punk at NYU, and she dove back into music last year, releasing an album called Next is Now. I’ve only scratched the surface, too: Check out viviengoldman.com for a more complete picture.
In this conversation, Birch and Goldman chat about the old days and the newer days, how roles and respect for women have changed over the decades, and about the famous musician and producer, Youth, who encouraged them both—and produced both of their new records. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Gina Birch and Vivien Goldman for this fantastic chat. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all we’ve got on offer at Talkhouse.com. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!
(Photo Credit: right, Alexesie Pinnock; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)