Arts & Entertainment Industry Forum: Kristin Hersh

Kristin Hersh, solo artist and founding member of Throwing Muses, performs live and takes student questions (01/26/2015).

About Kristin Hersh

Kristin Hersh is an American singer, songwriter, and author, known for her solo work and with her bands, Throwing Muses and 50FootWave. A prolific songwriter who has released ten (10) solo albums, her composition and performing style ranges from punk/grunge to traditional folk, while her lyrics are often written in a stream-of-consciousness style. Hersh is widely known as a founding member and frontman of Throwing Muses, an alternative rock band formed in 1981 in Newport, Rhode Island that toured and recorded extensively until 1997. Throwing Muses is known for performing music with shifting tempos, unique chord progressions, unorthodox song structures, and surreal lyrics.

Hersh has said her artists from parents' album collections heavily influenced her work, including Patti Smith, the Carter Family, Stevie Wonder, Robert Johnson, Talking Heads, The Clash, Steve Miller, The Beatles, and Philip Glass. Her early contemporary musical influences include are The Raincoats, Talking Heads, Violent Femmes, Meat Puppets, Dead Kennedys, Hüsker Dü, Velvet Underground, R.E.M., and X.

Hersh published an illustrated children's book, Toby Snax, in 2007, and later developed it further as an interactive app for children. The app allows children to hear her read the story out loud and also features her recordings of lullabies from her childhood in Tennessee. Her 2010 memoir, Rat Girl, is based on a diary she wrote at 18 while touring with Throwing Muses, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and pregnant with her first child. Rob Sheffield in The New York Times called it an "uncommonly touching punk memoir," and named it #8 in Rolling Stone magazine's "25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time." Hirsh later published a second memoir in 2015, Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt. The book focuses on her friendship with the late singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, whom Kristin cites him as one of her chief songwriting influences, especially with his "fluid timing and the grace of a melody that breaks the rules of meter."