Kristin Hersh set for Edinburgh Festival show
Indie rock goddess brings new memoir, spoken word and live music
This article is from 2011.
Alternative rock idol Kristin Hersh is spoiling us. She’s playing four shows in the Edinburgh festival, although she doesn’t realise it. ‘Am I? I don’t know!’ she laughs. ‘I’ll do whatever you say …’
The List is tempted to exploit this congenial offer – to book a month-long residency; to keep her in our land forever – but we do the honest thing, and remind Hersh of her scheduled dates: the UNBOUND words and music event, the EIBF panel and two Paradoxical Undressing shows as part of The Edge.
Hersh has been a singular figure in US indie rock for over 25 years. As leader of Throwing Muses, she overthrew gender stereotypes, blazed a trail for underground rock and brought The Pixies to our shores. (‘The Pixies were our opening band – we were such babies that we were all homesick. We’d sit in the van and sing old folk songs about being away from home.’) She also records as a solo artist and in power-punk trio 50 Foot Wave – not to mention her pioneering, fan-funded business model, Cash Music. ‘A lot of creativity comes out of necessity,’ she enthuses. ‘Being broke will keep you really vibrant!’
Hersh’s memoir, Paradoxical Undressing, is at the heart of her Edinburgh shows. Detailing a year in the singer-songwriter’s late teens during which she bagged a record contract, fell pregnant, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it underlines Hersh’s longstanding efforts to disentangle mental illness and art. ‘I honestly believe that a clear, healthy mind is capable of creating what we need to hear,’ she says.
‘When I was younger, I just thought, “let the songs do whatever they want”,’ she reflects of her changing relationship with her music. ‘Now I’ve come to a point where I let the song say whatever it wants – and that can be very uncomfortable – but I edit out the crap that nobody needs.’
UNBOUND, Spiegeltent, 16 Aug, 9pm, free; ‘On Surviving Mental Illness’, ScottishPower Studio Theatre, 17 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8), both events are part of the EIBF, 0845 373 5888; Cabaret Voltaire (Paradoxical Undressing), 0844 4999 990, 18 & 19 Aug, 7pm, £12.50, part of The Edge.