Kat Bjelland is the amazing vocalist and lead guitarist behind grunge/punk rock bands from the 1980s to 2000s including Pagan Babies, Katastrophy Wife and the awesome Babes in Toyland. Well-known for both bringing the kinderwhore look to fame and her incredible scream, Kat’s punk-rock attitude showed that women really could rock, making her an inspirational figure for the riot grrrl movement. We love Kat!
Dear Kat Bjelland,
Back when weak feminine stereotypes were entrenched in the popular music industry, and the grunge and punk scenes were still extremely gender prejudiced, you showed that girls can thrash guitars, scream and just generally go crazy, and proved that we’re not all innocence and light. For inspiring riot grrrl bands from Bikini Kill to Bratmobile to Sleater Kinney, for writing and performing many truly amazing songs, and for redefining women’s role in rock, we thank you!
Love, mookychick xx
Quotes about Kat Bjelland:
“Kat is not only a great musician, but also someone who, intentionally or not, has reshaped culture, allowing other women to run through the door her big voice kicked down.” – Kathleen Hanna
“Babes in Toyland gave a solid ass-thrashing to the pathetic state of pop/punk/rock, helping to define a new breed of fierce and foul-mouthed female troublemakers who took to the stage wielding guitars, bass and drums like instruments of aural assault.” – Lydia Lunch
Kat Bjelland Best Known For:
Being the guitarist and singer-songwriter for the all-female grunge band ‘Babes in Toyland’, inventing the kinderwhore look (before Courtney laid claim to it!), and her rocky relationship with Courtney Love.
Kat Bjelland Least Known For:
Being a popular student, head cheerleader and straight-A student at her high-school in Oregon.
Off the scale. Intelligent, talented and equipped with an awesome set of vocal chords, it’s no wonder that Kat was a truly inspirational figure for the riot grrrl movement. The quirky, aggressive and often intensely personal nature of her lyrics make her songs really emotion-packed, original, and far more meaningful than many empty-souled rock songs. She’s had a great influence on many in the music industry, and not just in the punk scene. Many artists cite Kat as an inspirational figure, and she’s has been involved in a great variety of musical collaborations and projects over the years; including contributing to the industrial band Jakalope’s ‘It Dreams’ album in 2005. Kat has the look, the voice, the mind and the sharp tongue of a very mooky chick indeed.
A Short History of Kat Bjelland:
Kat was born on 8th December, 1963 in Salem, Oregon. From a quiet child who preferred listening to music to playing with dolls, Kat became a very popular student at her high school. But as soon as she left school, she left her perky straight-A student attitude behind, and focused on transforming herself into a punk diva, hoping that one day she’d be performing on the same stages her musical heroes had.
Shortly after high school graduation in 1982, Kat moved to Portland where she formed a series of bands: first, The Neurotics and then an all-female band formed with her best friends, The Venarays. After quitting The Venarays, Kat formed a band with new friend Courtney Love and bassist Jennifer Finch (later in L7), Sugar Baby Doll. After the band’s collapse around 1985, Bjelland and Love formed a new band, Pagan Babies. When Love left, this line-up played under the name Italian WhoreNuns.
Kat met Lori Barbero at a barbeque not long after moving to Minneapolis in the mid-1980s, and convinced her to become a drummer – something that Lori quickly became very talented at. The pair joined with bassist Michelle Leon, and the legendary Babes in Toyland was formed.
The Babes’ debut single, ‘Dust Cake Boy’ b/w ‘Spit to See the Shine’ was an instant hit. After touring Europe with Sonic Youth, the Babes recorded their abrasive debut album ‘Spanking Machine’, which was another success.
After Michelle left the group in 1992 and was replaced by bassist Maureen Herman, Babes’ released a second album, ‘Fontanelle’, quickly followed by the ‘Painkillers EP’. The height of Babes’ fame came later that year when they headlined the Lollapalooza festival 1993.
Due to Kat’s preoccupation with her newly-wed husband Stu Spasm and his nasty drug addiction, it was another two years until the Babes’ final album, ‘Nemesisters’, was released in 1995. Soon after, the Babes went on a long-needed break. During the Babes’ hiatus, Kat and Stu started Crunt, a short-lived musical side-project. Stu’s heroin addiction worsened, and the couple soon divorced.
Babes in Toyland decided to call it quits in 1997, but this was by no means the end of Kat’s musical career. Kat’s life took a huge turn when she met and married drummer Glen Mattson in 1998. They had their first child, Henry, in 1999, and although Kat devoted a lot of her time to looking after her new son, she continued to write new songs with Glen. This music turned out to be the starting point for Kat’s new band, Katastrophy Wife.
Since their debut in 2000, Katastrophy Wife has had a successful career with two critically acclaimed albums, ‘Amusia’ and ‘All Kneel’, and Kat continues to be an amazing and influential singer-songwriter with a career spanning over 2 decades.
Kat Bjelland = one mooky icon!
Kat Bjelland onstage. It’s not hard to see where Courtney Love got her kinderwhore style from.