kim gordon and daughter coco discuss their relationship
She’s idolized the world over, but to her daughter Coco Gordon Moore — a talented young artist in her own right — Kim Gordon is mom, confidante, and best friend. These two are thick as thieves and it’s a beautiful thing.
Kim wears shirt and trousers model's own. Coco wears dress Sandy Liang, bracelets Rodarte, and rings COS.
Kim Gordon is driving through Los Angeles when our three-way call is connected. Her daughter, Coco Gordon Moore, is already on the line, speaking from her mom's house. It's immediately clear there's a problem with talking to them both at the same time — their voices are very, very similar. Thankfully there is a distinction in the way they answer questions. Coco is chattier, faster to respond. She's full of youthful nonchalance mixed with the confidence of someone who's grown up around those in the limelight, but who hasn't had it shone too brightly on her yet — though not through lack of public interest. She is the progeny of music legends after all, with her own artistic ability and the right amount of mystery surrounding her. Kim is friendly when she speaks, but has the understandable reticence of an artist who's been asked it all, and isn't particularly keen to give away too much more. Of course, she's already opened up her life on her own terms, with her widely publicized and acclaimed 2015 memoir, Girl in a Band, in which she spoke of the intense shyness and sensitivity that she's carried since she was a kid, and only masters when she's on stage.
Coco is back living with her mom temporarily after graduating from The Art Institute of Chicago last year. She is poised to move to NYC shortly, following in her mom's footsteps. "I'm very excited, but moving during the winter will be hard," she says. "I guess I'm in this post-grad not-really-knowing-what-to-do-with-my-life situation. That's why I decided to move to New York, it feels like the right choice, trying to make art there."
Our relationship changed after I was in college. Now we're more like friends. We were never friends when I was a teenager! But now we can hang out and not piss each other off.
Post-Sonic Youth, Kim embarked on a new freeform musical collaboration, Body/Head with Bill Nace, and late last year she released her very first single recorded under her own name in her 36 years in the music industry. Today, however, she's mostly working on her paintings, while watching her kid set out into the world in much the same way she did back in the early 80s. "Coco's definitely had a much more focused education," Kim muses. "I slumped around at different schools, and I went to New York later in my 20s. It's a good age to live in New York, to be young and endure the hardships. I really didn't like being in my early 20s, I actually hated it." That's something else they have in common — Coco, currently 22, isn't feeling it either. The hardships endured by Kim in the 80s, when the city was run-down and unpredictable but open to endless creative possibilities, is very different to the slick, moneyed New York landscape of today. But you get the feeling that Coco will make something of this environment that's all her own, because like her mom, making art is all she's ever considered — "It's second nature to me, it always made sense," she says. "Coco was always very good in an expressive way with materials, and a good writer," Kim continues. "I couldn't actually picture her doing anything other than making art, or writing, or something else in a creative vein." For Coco, her mom has provided both inspiration and grounding. "I, of course, look to my mom's work a lot, because a lot of her work is very conceptual," she says. "From a young age my mom was really good at critiquing my work. At the time it was hard to take, but ultimately it made me a better artist and when I went to school I already had the backbone for it."
Coco knew that her parents were a big deal from a young age. "I used to go on tour with Sonic Youth when I was a baby, and watching them on stage and watching people's reactions to my mom... I'd see people freaking out." But just like any regular teenager, she was less than comfortable thinking of her mom as more than a parent. "In high school I tried to pull away from it and not pay attention, not think of her in that way. She's my mom first and a cultural figure after," Coco says. "I didn't think of her as a feminist art icon until I reached college. I don't think I fully understood it until then." As you might imagine, having a mom who has had — and continues to have — such a deeply creative existence means a direct line to seriously good life guidance. "She's given me a lot of good advice," Coco confirms. "I would say she gives the best advice." Kim is a little taken aback by her daughter's admission — "That's nice!" she replies. So what does Kim wish she knew at her daughter's age? "I guess the whole thing about the world being so big and overwhelming. Also that I can have the art career that fits me, rather than the one I thought I should have."
Mother and daughter relationships are notoriously difficult to navigate as the inevitable pushing away of adolescence creates a burgeoning sense of self for both, and the relationship eventually grows into something different — good-different in this case. Kim and Coco have passed through that tumultuous time and made it out the other side, closer than ever. "When you're a teenager it's your job to separate from your parents," Kim says. "But then they come back to you, which is nice. Coco's pretty good at being herself, which I think is great. I admire that." Coco agrees, "I think our relationship started changing during my senior year in high school and really started changing when I was in college. Now we're more like friends. We were never friends when I was a teenager! But now we can hang out and not piss each other off."
Text Clementine de Pressigny
Photography Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Styling Leah Adicoff
Hair Brian Fisher at The Wall Group using Oribe