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Le Tigre was an American punk/electro-pop/New Wave band, formed by Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill) and Johanna Fateman in 1998. It also featured Sadie Benning from 1998 until 2001, and JD Samson for the rest of the group's run. They were known for their highly political lyrics, dealing with issues of feminism and community.
Initially envisioned as a live back up band for Hanna's solo project Julie Ruin, Le Tigre mixed the politics and feminism of riot grrrl with fun electronic samples and lo-fi beats. Other members included Johanna Fateman and JD Samson. JD joined Le Tigre as a full member when co-founder Sadie Benning left the band before the Feminist Sweepstakes album was recorded. JD had previously worked with the band as a roadie and the operator of Benning's slide show during live performances in support of their first record. The self-proclaimed "underground electro-feminist performance artists" combined visuals, music and dance in their performances. JD is a big gay-rights activist, and the excerpts in New Kicks are from an actual protest that JD recorded herself. Kathleen is a speaker against sexual abuse.
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 the honorees are: Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, Aretha Franklin, Vaginal Davis, Yayoi Kusama, John Cassavetes, Sleater-Kinney, Billy Tipton, James Baldwin, and Jean Genet. 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.
The first two recordings by the band were released on the independent label Mr. Lady Records, run by Kaia Wilson of The Butchies and artist Tammy Rae Carland. Feminist Sweepstakes (2001) came out on Chicks on Speed's record label. The album This Island (2004) was Le Tigre's first on a major label (Universal/Strummer). 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.
Le Tigre self-titled 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.
Le Tigre licensed two of their songs for use in advertisements by Canadian telephone provider Telus and Australian jewelery chain Goldmark. A sample from "Deceptacon" (Deceptacon is French for Decepticon)plays in the background of a 2006 television commercial for Nivea cosmetics. Le Tigre's "TKO" is featured in the 2006 movie Accepted.
In the second half of 2006, Le Tigre went on hiatus.In 2006, Le Tigre contributed to Yoko Ono's Yes, I'm A Witch album by remixing "Sisters O Sisters". The band decided to take an extended break starting early 2007.
Thousands of baseball fans in New England, USA are familiar with at least a bit of Le Tigre's sound. The Boston Red Sox radio broadcast often uses a sample of "Deceptacon", the first song on Le Tigre's debut album, as filler when returning from commercial break. The song was also featured in the Girl Skateboard Company's film Yeah Right! (playing during Rick McCrank's skateboarding segment), the freestyle ski film Teddybear Crisis, and Robot Food's Snowboard film Afterbang, thus elevating it to cult status among skateboarders, freestyle skiers, snowboarders, and the like.