In honor of Independence Day, KEXP is saluting some of our favorite indie record labels whose DIY-spirit helped revolutionize the music industry. As an independent radio station ourselves, KEXP is thrilled to give a 13-gun salute to these pioneers with a series of label spotlights through the Fourth of July.
Kill Rock Stars began in 1991 as a way for founder Slim Moon to release spoken-word records with his friends, including Kathleen Hanna (who would go on to be the lead singer of Bikini Kill). Based out of Olympia, Washington, the label released their first major compilation of local artists as part of the International Pop Underground convention titled simply Kill Rock Stars. The album included the seminal punk and riot grrrl artists Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Unwound (as well as songs from Nirvana, the Melvins and Fitz of Depression). Shortly after signing these artists, Kill Rock Stars became an incredibly important and influential label as a result of the national attention garnered by the riot grrrl movement. The label continued on to release records from Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, the Gossip, and The Decemberists, cementing their role as a cornerstone of independent music. Other highlights from their remarkably impressive catalog include the late Jeff Hanson and The Thermals. In 2006 KRS relocated to Portland after the departure of Slim Moon, and became one of the few female-run independent labels in the U.S.
Check out these awesome tracks from some of their most important releases below: