JD Samson: An Activist in the Music Industry

Nina Donaghue ’18
Contributing Writer

Get ready for a feminist dance party on March 3: JD Samson is performing a DJ set at One Bar & Grill in downtown Northampton. Samson is a former member of the popular dance-punk band Le Tigre and is currently performing with MEN, her DJ and remix project. The songwriter, producer and DJ makes music with a strong activist message – Samson uses her various projects to speak up about social equality, with a particular focus on women’s rights and LGBT issues.

Samson, Joanna Fateman and riot grrrl superstar Kathleen Hannah made waves as unapologetic feminist and LGBT activists in electronic punk project Le Tigre. Stemming from the riot grrrl era of the early 1990s, a movement in which a surge of young women began forming their own punk bands to counter the often male-dominated, sexist nature of the punk subculture, Le Tigre set a new standard by producing fun, dancey listening with a heavy message.

Self-described as “underground electro-feminist performance artists,” Le Tigre’s honest, striking sociopolitical lyricism against bouncy, lo-fi beats demand action, calling their audience to arms by making music to which even the surliest of listeners couldn’t help but tap their feet. During Samson’s time in the group, from 2000 to the band’s split in 2006, she contributed to Le Tigre’s signature electro sound, even recording protests to sample in their tracks. Le Tigre produced three full-length albums and toured across the globe.

After the dissolution of the band in 2006, Samson formed her DJ project MEN in 2007 with former Le Tigre member Johanna Fateman. Samson has described their music to IAMSOUND records as dealing with “issues such as wartime economies, sexual compromise and the demand for liberties through lyrical content and an inventive, high-energy stage show.” Their 2009 self-titled EP sold out on their first U.S. tours, and “Talk About Body,” their debut full-length album, was released in February 2011. Samson has been an outspoken supporter of the Free Pussy Riot movement, and in 2012, the group released a song in solidarity with the Russian group. MEN’s most recent release was their album “Labor” in 2013, and they continue to tour.

Samson’s career is as diverse and creative as it is impressive – Samson has a knack for being at the forefront of sociopolitical movements and curating their intersections with music and performance art in a way that demands and keeps the rapt attention of her audiences. Her DJ set on Thursday promises to be no different, and it is definitely not to be missed. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show is 21 and up. Tickets are $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door.

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