Riot Woman with Amy Klein

I’ve admired the work, songwriting, and guitar shredding of musician, writer, and organizer Amy Klein for years. Amy is an incredibly thoughtful, inspiring, and knowledgeable Brooklyn-based artist and and in this episode she shares powerful reflections about building a life and vision as a feminist musician and writer. 

In this conversation Amy and I cover a lot of ground, including how she discovered Riot Grrrl in the 3rd grade by stealing CDs from her older sisters room; the influence and inspiration of the book Girls to the Front and how it encouraged her to move from the online community of feminists she built thanks to a blog and tour diary to a real life community with the Permanent Wave group she founded and helped run for several years; how skills from being a performer translated into skills for being an organizer, especially as an introvert; the importance of making things happen, the power of women’s political rage in public; the value of having difficult conversations in person and the pitfalls and danger of online culture; and the lifetime process of creating art that feels authentic to you.

In this conversation Amy is really frank and vulnerable about what she’s learned as an organizer and feminist, especially about confronting racism within feminism as a white woman, so I hope that you’ll listen carefully. 

Throughout this episode, Amy and I make reference to many different books. We’re both writers and avid readers and books have shaped both of our lives. Here are the books we talk about and books relevant to our conversation topics:

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus 

Your Art Will Save Your Life by Beth Pickens

Bluets and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The works of Kathy Acker

Good and Mad by Rebecca Traistor 

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

The experiences Amy shares around organizing highlight a really important factor of building movements and creating social change: So much change actually comes from the small actions and risks we take every day, the ideas we try, and the relationships we build. These may not coalesce into social movements that get written about in the media or talking about on NPR, but they can make a tangible difference in peoples’ lives and have a lasting impact that does on for years. As such, I hope that this episode also serves as a reminder to keep going, especially in these times that are extremely tough. 

You can find Amy on Instagram at @amytiger and her music on Bandcamp, as well as via the Don Giovanni Records website.  

This episode features the song “Half Lie” by Taleen Kali. Riot Woman artwork and logo by Aurora Lady. Listen and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Eleanor Whitney