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Mothers On The Road

Suzanne Vega and Kim Gordon talk about motherhood, music, and touring with kids.
From www.heroinemagazine.com



Juggling motherhood and a career is always complicated. But what if your job involves going out on the road for weeks at a time, hopping from hotel room to hotel room, and spending the occasional evening at scary rock-club venues? How do you swing it with a six-year-old in tow? Singer, songwriter Suzanne Vega and Sonic Youth bassist and vocalist Kim Gordon are both experienced in the ins and outs of taking a child on the road. Recently, they both sat down with Heroine editor Ingrid Ducmanis to talk about how motherhood has effected their tours, their work, and their take on the world.

INGRID: So let me do introductions. Kim, Suzanne. Suzanne, Kim.

SUZANNE: We’ve met once before.

KIM: Yes, that’s right. We’ve met once before.

INGRID: Terrific! As you both know, this is a round-table discussion about motherhood on the road, that is, having a child and going on tour, and how one effects the other. I thought that first we would get the lay of the land with each of you describing your family. Suzanne, why don't we start with you.

SUZANNE: Okay. I have one child. Her name is Ruby. She's six years old. I think she was born just a week after Kim's daughter, actually.

KIM: Really? That's wonderful.

SUZANNE: And I'm separated from my husband, and that's how we are at the moment.

INGRID: Okay. And Kim?

KIM: We have one child, Coco. And she’s six. ["We" includes Thurston Moore, Kim’s husband and fellow member of Sonic Youth.]

INGRID: And each of you have taken your daughters out on the road?

SUZANNE: Ruby started traveling when she was six months old. When I was with Mitchell [Froom, Ruby’s father], whenever he would go somewhere to produce, we would all go with him. So she kind of traveled continuously from the time she was six months to about two and a half. And then we stopped for a while, and I put her in nursery school. But I still take her with me in the summer when I go on tours.

INGRID: And Kim, you’ve traveled with Coco?

KIM: Coco traveled from about the same age. I remember I had to take her to Japan for a weekend once, to do a fashion show. And I got this babysitter from the hotel who didn't speak any English, this older Japanese woman. I brought her with us to this club where we were doing the show, and she basically just sat in this tiny room watching Coco sleep, while we were dressing all these girls. Then Coco went on a tour in England when she was about six or seven months.

INGRID: How was it, travelling with a small child?

SUZANNE: I found that when we were traveling with Ruby on a bus tour, that that actually worked pretty well, because it's kind of cozy, and we could watch videos. And at that point I was still with Mitchell, so he would be on the bus, and we were all together traveling through Europe. Ruby went through this phase where she would watch Singing in the Rain every day, all two hours of it.

INGRID: How old was she?

SUZANNE: At that point she was two and a half. Something about the music just fascinated her. So she would settle in, watch it, all two hours of it, and we'd all watch it with her. She'd watch cartoons and the guys in the crew would come and watch with her. She doesn't like touring now. She'd much rather be home, with her buddies. And I think she's getting annoyed (laughs). I'm working on an album right now, and I've heard through the grapevine that she feels that I've really made enough recordings. And there's no reason to make another one.

KIM: Oh, that's wonderful!

SUZANNE: She's very outspoken.

INGRID: So now, when you go on tour in the summer, do you take Ruby for the whole time?

SUZANNE: I go for eight weeks, and she comes with me for about five out of the eight weeks. She spends some time with her father, and sometimes my sister will help out.

INGRID: How about Coco, Kim? As she gets older, and she's starting to have her own life, is she less enthusiastic about going on tour with you?

KIM: She’s always excited about going on the big bus and all that. And she's the only one who actually sleeps on the bus (laughs)–because she's done it, as a baby–while everyone else is totally exhausted. But last summer was the first time we really toured all summer, and it was pretty intense. By the end, we were doing some dates around here [Western Massachusetts], and we asked her if she wanted to stay at home, and she said yes. And that was the first time we'd left her home without us for as long as a week.

INGRID: In Coco's case, both her parents are in the band.

KIM: So it's a little difficult to leave her, yes.

INGRID: Either one of you can speak to this or you can take turns: When you do leave your daughter at home–especially now that they're both in school–how does that work ? Do you have a professional nanny? Or do you rely on family and friends?



SUZANNE: I have a babysitter, and usually I try to make sure that a relative is there to stay over night. Ruby will also stay with my sister at my sister's house, and I have a niece who's 14. That works well. They get along really well. But if I'm away for more than ten days, I’ll take her with me. And if I'm gone for just a week, then she stays with my sister.

KIM: For us, it’s somewhat more complicated, because we don't have a regular babysitter up here, now that Coco’s in school. We took her ex-pre-school teacher on tour in December, and that worked out really well. Babysitters are complicated, too. I mean, sometimes even if you find a babysitter who's great at home, they turn out to be not road-worthy at all.

SUZANNE: Right. Right.

KIM: And some are totally road-worthy but just terrible with your child.

INGRID: What are some of the particular challenges to taking a child into what, for lack of a better term, I will call the "rock’n’roll environment?"

KIM: Well, there's some venues where you just don't want your kids hanging around. Because maybe the building's falling down, or there’s electrical wiring hanging out of the walls, or there's weird graffiti or penises drawn all over. Whatever.

SUZANNE: I find the worst thing is all the candy around the dressing room. For the crew and stuff.

KIM: Oh, all the candy! That's true.

INGRID: I would bet that the absolute last thing people would imagine is a big problem with taking a child on the road is the candy! I mean, that’s just like any mom trying to get through the checkout line at the grocery store without having to buy her kids a candy bar.

KIM: Yeah (laughs). And traipsing through airports, getting past all the gift stores.

SUZANNE: That's true. I remember when Ruby was about two years old, and we were touring in Ireland. She was at that age when kids throw screaming tantrums that go on for about an hour, and everyone would buy her anything, just to keep her pacified. That was a problem. But there would be positive experiences with this, too. She has mementos from every tour. Little stuffed animals, and weird little gadgets. That makes the touring more about her life, and that’s good.

KIM: You can't give in every time they see something they want, but every few days, you kind of have to buy some little thing. Because she’s out all the time, and she’s just seeing all this stuff, and she knows her dad buys himself records all the time. (Laughs)

SUZANNE: "Well, you've got your stuff and I want some stuff too!"

KIM: Exactly!

SUZANNE: In general, it's hard to be as disciplined and as strict as you are at home, even though you definitely need to have boundaries. I try to stick to pretty much the same rules, but on the road you kind of have to be a little bit looser.

KIM: Right.

SUZANNE: Because it's just a looser environment. Everyone's always so stressed, you have to give in from time to time.

KIM: You do.

SUZANNE: Meals are kind of difficult. Ruby's been living on chicken nuggets, I think, for five out of her six years. (Laughs.) Which is not what I had intended. I had intended for her to eat all this lovely organic food. But it’s been chicken nuggets every night, or fish sticks. Peanut butter.

INGRID: Probably most people would consider the environment of rock clubs and backstage to be inappropriate for a child, and as you were saying, some are inappropriate. But maybe you could give us a more realistic picture of what it’s really like behind the scenes, if there are actually appropriate places for a child to be, and if having a child backstage has an effect on the whole atmosphere back there.

KIM: Well, for the most part, we're lucky in that most of the places we play now have decent dressing rooms, and they're fairly clean, and they're not cold and filled with graffiti. We try to keep it smoke free. And we've had pretty much the same crew forever, so they're kind of like her family. She can hang out backstage and be perfectly safe and comfortable.

But when I do the festivals, like Glastonbury for example, I won’t take her, because it's just a little crazy. Everyone's been out in the rain and sun for four days, and a lot of them are on drugs or whatever. So I just say, okay, you'll stay in the neighboring town and go to the zoo. But that’s more the exception than the rule.

Oh, one thing we did: I got her this tent for her birthday, this sort of playhouse tent, and we put it up in the dressing rooms and hotel rooms, so she can have her own little space.

SUZANNE: That's a brilliant idea!

INGRID: I address this to each of you. Especially now that your children are in school, when you see your child with children who are having more traditional childhood experiences, do you see a difference in your child? Has this experience created a different kind of child?

KIM: Well, Coco's really social. She’s really adjusted well to school. She would love to have a play date with everyone in her class. I think that might have come from being around people all the time. She’s also pretty good at making friends for an hour with someone she doesn't speak the same language with and stuff like that.

SUZANNE: My experience has been just the opposite. Ruby is very introspective, and in fact until I took her off the road and put her in a school where she was seeing the same kids every day, she wouldn't talk to anybody. She wouldn't even make eye contact with them. She was becoming very shy, and I was concerned. Now she's in first grade and she’s fine, but her tendency on tour was to become more introspective, and kind of create her own inner world.

INGRID: So how about the reverse? We’ve been talking about the effect of touring on the child, but how does the child affect the tour? And how does she effect your work?

KIM: I think people are better behaved when they're around a small child.

SUZANNE: Yes, I think it's a civilizing influence. Because if people know there's a child around, especially a little girl, they sort of clean themselves up.

KIM: Right.

SUZANNE: For a while, Ruby affected my work, just because I just don't have all the time that I used to.

KIM: Right.

SUZANNE: Now, everything kind of revolves around her schedule. But I still find that I can be pretty prolific at this point. It was harder to be disciplined about writing before, because Ruby just started sleeping through the night only last year.

KIM: Oh my God!

SUZANNE: So I’m coming off five years of being woken up two times a night. I felt like I was losing brain cells, and it was really hard for me to concentrate. But this year, suddenly, she's just decided she's going to sleep right through the night, which means I get to sleep through the night, which means all of a sudden I feel a lot more prolific than I did before.

KIM: Wow. Yes, it can be really exhausting. I mean, when I look at really high-profile celebrities, like Madonna, somebody like that, I wonder, how does she have time to do all that publicity!

SUZANNE: Right. (Laughs)

KIM: All those photo shoots! I mean that's really time consuming. I guess she's incredibly well organized.

SUZANNE: I think that must be what it is.

KIM: But I find that I’m really resistant to that sort of life, which is one reason why maybe I do what I do.

SUZANNE: I like having Ruby as an anchor because I feel like I can say, "Well, I'll do these four dates, then I really have to go home."

KIM: Right.

SUZANNE: Because there has to be some continuity. Like when I tour and she's at school, I really have to pace it so that I'm not out long. I can’t go out for like two months. I can do a long weekend, or I can do three days here and there, but I really have to be home in-between.

INGRID: You both have definitely put your kid–her stability, particularly–as your highest priority, which I think is admirable. Has that been difficult at times?

SUZANNE: Not really. I'm happy to do it, actually. Because it's a saner way to live. I've done it the other way, too, before she was born, where you just do every gig, you do every bit of promotion, you tour your butt off for like a year or a year and a half. And I would just wear myself out and get sick, and it's not sane, and it's not healthy. It’s better to have limits, to say, well, I can't live that way anymore. This is how I'm going to do it. And I haven't found it to be harmful in any way. I feel like I still have a good career, so I don't feel like I've made some kind of sacrifice that I resent or regret.

KIM: Also, those clichés are all true about how fast it goes. I mean, they're really only this age once.

SUZANNE: Right. Although the first year, I have to say, seemed so long! Everyone said it was going to go so quickly, but then again, we were traveling a lot. And it used to be that every time we traveled, one of us would get sick. Either she'd get sick, or I'd get sick. And that part was a nightmare.

KIM: Yeah, that part!

SUZANNE: To deal with the constant physical stress, and then ...

KIM: Also, I mean, you are your group.

SUZANNE: Right.

KIM: That’s even more exhausting.

SUZANNE: I have to do everything. I can't parcel it out to anyone.

KIM: And you have to make all the decisions and everything. That's so hard.

SUZANNE: Right. And the other thing is that, if Ruby's up sick at two in the morning, I am there. And that means if I have to get up at seven for a TV show or something like that, I just have to steel myself and kind of plow through it.

KIM: Mm-hmm.

SUZANNE: But I don't know, it's still pretty terrific. There have been months where I said to myself well, I think I should really give up my career, or this aspect of it, and just kind of do a "greatest hits" kind of thing from now on. (Laughs.) But I find that I really have a drive to keep performing. I dream about it when I'm not actually out on the road, so I think it's a big part of my psyche. My mom worked, and to me it's just something ...

KIM: Natural.

SUZANNE: Right.

KIM: I think the older Coco gets, I feel like I can do more again, and I'm more ambitious than I was when she was younger.

SUZANNE: When they're babies, it's hard. It's really like every moment there’s a new need that you have to fulfill.

KIM: Totally.

SUZANNE: And the whole breast feeding thing, too, is pretty amazing. If you've never done that before, it's like ...

KIM: Oh! (Laughs.)

SUZANNE: … you are the food! (Laughs)

KIM: Yes! (Laughs)

SUZANNE: You can't go anywhere or do anything. You have to be constantly there for snacks, and meals, and everything.

KIM: Right.

SUZANNE: So those first years, your entire being is all wound up in being the mom to your baby.

KIM: Yes.

SUZANNE: And once they start to separate a little bit, then you have a little more freedom. It changes.

KIM: It does.

SUZANNE: But I really love it. I love doing both. I would have more kids, if I could swing it. I would definitely do that.

INGRID: I read an interview with Roseanne Cash many years ago in which she said that becoming a mother made her a better artist, because it opened up new rooms in her heart, which I thought was a wonderful way of putting it. I’d like to ask each of you: How has your creative life changed since having a child?

KIM: Well, my priorities are certainly different now. I’m different. I'm not as much of a control freak about certain things. Now I only use energy fighting for the things that are important to me, because my time's more limited, and what I do with it is important.

SUZANNE: I think being a mother has changed my writing some. First of all, it's made me more aware of melody, because when she was a baby, Ruby couldn’t understand the words to a song, but she would respond to melodies. Before that I have to say I didn't really care about melodies. For me all the impact was in the text of the songs. So after singing to her for a couple of years, I could see what would get her attention. And it made me a lot more aware of melody. Now she's older, she’s more interested in the poetry of it. She'll ask me questions about certain songs. But also I think it's warmed me up ... I think a lot of my songs were very intellectual before, and now I'm a little more direct.

KIM: I've definitely been influenced by things that Coco says.

SUZANNE: Does Coco ever have any opinions about how you dress?

KIM: Oh, yeah. There are certain things that she wants me to wear. I'm amazed at how opinionated she can be. She'll come in and look me up and down and say "Mom, you look weird." I'll sometimes lay out her clothes for her, so one day she decided to lay out my clothes. And she brought down this little pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps and blue jeans and a T-shirt. And I thought it was so funny. Because it was very hip, what she had picked.

SUZANNE: That's so funny.

KIM: And I started laughing. And she said "Well, I just think they're pretty." So she has this funny way of styling herself, and she's very aware of all of that.

INGRID: I wonder if maybe they're just now beginning to realize that they're not having the typical American childhood experience? Or are they self-conscious? Or proud?

KIM: I don't think Coco has any sense that her life is different or anything.

SUZANNE: I don't get that feeling from Ruby either.

KIM: Only in the last year has any "rock’n’roll-ness" escaped from her mouth. (Laughs.) Sometimes she'll just all of a sudden say something, and I'll say, "Where did that come from?" But aside from having a huge crush on Eddie Vedder–to the point where she asks me questions like "Well, if you didn't meet Daddy, could you have married Eddie?"–she’s got a pretty normal life.

SUZANNE: Well, I don't know that Ruby feels she's living a different kind of life. I think she's aware that she's seen more places in the world than other children have. But the life that she's living right now, she has play dates with other kids, she goes to school, she does stuff on the weekends. So it's really only the summers that are different.

INGRID: So maybe her childhood is more typical than people might think?

SUZANNE: It's kind of typical for a New York kid. There's other parents that we know who are artistic, or who do musical things or artistic things. So she doesn't seem different in that respect.

INGRID: Without naming any names, have you run into other parents on the road where you've been like "Oh, I'm never going to do that."

KIM: Well, when Coco was about a year old, I saw one little girl who was waiting forever just to see her mom, because her mom was doing an interview or something. It was just so sad the way we asked her what she was doing, and she goes "I'm waiting to see my mom." She’d just been left waiting outside the dressing room without toys or anything to do.

SUZANNE: There's someone I know who had a child in my daughter's school who is a celebrity, and I don't know what happened, but she ended up moving suddenly in the middle of the school year. There was a holiday, and the child just never came back to school. And then later on, the school got word that they had moved. Just all of a sudden.

KIM: Has Ruby discovered Britney Spears yet, speaking of children? (Laughs.)

SUZANNE: She has kind of. I know all her buddies are crazy about Britney Spears. There are a couple of girls in her class that are just ... it's like Britney Mania. But the girls are also really outgoing. And so Ruby will sort of act it out with her dolls. And she'll have one of them singing a Britney Spears song. But she's not as caught up in it.

KIM: Coco doesn't know that much about her, but she heard her song for about 20 seconds on Nickelodeon one day and she's like "I want to go to her concert!"

SUZANNE: I know it's amazing . Well, that's the group she's marketed to. Six-year-olds.

KIM: But she didn't even see her. Maybe she's seen pictures of her or something… But it's just something about the high, trebly production, it’s really targeted right at first graders.

SUZANNE: I don't say, "You can't listen to Britney Spears." But she seems to feel that there's something not cool about it. So I figure she'll just work it through and figure out what she really likes.

KIM: See, I think they should start in elementary school just sort of teaching kids how to deconstruct popular culture, so they know how to go out into the world and decipher all that stuff.

SUZANNE: We had an interesting moment with that. One day we were watching Nickelodeon, and they said we should go to www.NickJr.com where there's all these cool activities to do, and Ruby goes, "Oh, I want to do that." So we rushed over, called up the Web site, and it had a few activities, and we did them. And she looked at me, and she said, "it seemed so much more exciting on TV." And I said "Well, that's it, really. They make it seem really exciting on TV, and a lot of times you'll get to the real thing and it's not really that exciting. And so that's a really good thing for you to notice."

KIM: I really think they should teach that in school.

SUZANNE: It would be good to have consumer awareness training on a basic level. For the first five years, Ruby watched PBS, and I remember the first time she saw a commercial, because she shouted from the living room: "There's something wrong with the show." I came to see what it was, and it was a commercial. To her it seemed like this strange thing that they had interrupted the show to talk about this weird toy.

KIM: Incredible.

SUZANNE: Oh, I was like "I'm so proud of you, Sweetie," and of course that lasted like a week, and now she wants everything she sees. Or she'll announce, "They have a new toy out," as though it's newsworthy, and it's something I should know.

INGRID: I know it's early still to make these kinds of predictions, but especially with having this kind of upbringing, do you see any signs that your daughters might become performers? Are they drifting in that direction?

SUZANNE: I think she might ... do something artistic. She's very interested in reading and writing. She writes little stories and illustrates them. She's calling herself R. M. Froom at this point. (Laughs.) Whether or not she wants to get up and sing into a microphone, I really can't tell that yet. But she loves to sing.

KIM: I can't tell with Coco. She's definitely a ham in some ways. But she's shy around other people as far as performing. She had her first piano recital, which lasted about a minute. She definitely seems to have an aptitude for music. But who knows what she'll want to do. She'll probably want to be a stewardess! (Laughs.)

INGRID: Were you nervous for her at her recital?

KIM: Oh, well I was. And she was a little. Thurston had to walk up there with her. But you could definitely tell she had a very strong, confident touch on the piano.

SUZANNE: Ruby has sort of an attraction and a repulsion about performing at the same time, I think, because she'll put on shows with my niece, where they'll dress up and do comic skits and puppet shows and sing and dance. But then other times, she was supposed to sing with her chorus at school, she didn't want to go. I think she gets nervous and worried, and she takes it very seriously.

INGRID: When they're out on the road with you, do your daughters get to watch you on stage?

SUZANNE: All the time. In the afternoons, at festivals, or if it's an earlier show.

KIM: Coco's definitely seen us. She's actually fallen asleep watching us play. She wears those big earmuffs, so I don't actually know how much she can hear, but I think sometimes she just concentrates so hard that it knocks her out.

INGRID: Is that a big treat, to get to watch you perform? Is she really interested?

KIM: Oh, I don't know if it's a treat. (Laughs.) I wouldn't say that.

SUZANNE: I wouldn't say it's a treat. It used to make Ruby angry. She used to look around at the audience and yell at them to stop clapping.

KIM: Oh, really!

SUZANNE: I think I had just explained to her this whole concept of not speaking to strangers, you can't go up to a stranger on the bus and tell them about yourself, because she was sort of sharing her life story happily with whoever would listen. I was like, "we don't do that here in New York. Okay?" So the idea that I was standing on a stage and singing and talking to all these strangers, she seemed absolutely appalled by it.

KIM: Wow.

SUZANNE: So for awhile she was angry about it. Then other times, I think she just feels like it's not that big a deal. She liked being backstage at Lilith Fair.

KIM: When Coco started school in the fall, her class had to do a little drawings about the most fun thing they did over the summer. We’d toured all over Europe, and she drew a picture of the trees in our yard and this guy who lives upstairs and his dog chasing the squirrels. I couldn't believe it...

SUZANNE: Wow. That’s so funny!

KIM: I think she was just really happy to be home at that point. But she's kind of ... she's sort of blasé about seeing us play. She'll watch a little bit sometimes, or sometimes she doesn't watch.

SUZANNE: I also think it depends on how happy she is with whatever is going on for her. If there's a nice babysitter who takes her to the zoo, and keeps her occupied, she's a lot easier about my going on stage. But if she's in a situation where she feels unhappy or she's having a power struggle with someone, then it just becomes very difficult. She can be very stubborn when she wants to be, and just digs her heels in. But I'm also trying to get her to understand that a lot of mothers work, and that in comparison, I'm actually home a lot. I work out of my house. I see her every night. A lot of moms work until six o'clock, and they're not here in the afternoon. I’m trying to get her to understand that.

INGRID: When you go out on tour without her, is that really difficult to be away from her?

SUZANNE: It is. I call her once or twice a day. I write notes for her for every night that I'm away. I write them all before I go away. So if I'm away for eight days, then I write her eight little cards with different pictures on them and stuff, and she can open them up every night.

KIM: That's a good idea.

SUZANNE: She seems to really like them. I try and anticipate what's going to be happening on a given day, like, "Oh, today, you probably had art class." And when we talk on the phone, it’s all about her day. She doesn’t care what I’m doing. Which is fine, because I would just be like, "I’m in another hotel room…"

KIM: Does she like hotels?

SUZANNE: She likes them if they have swimming pools.

KIM: Coco loves hotel rooms.

SUZANNE: Ruby's pretty used to them.

INGRID: What are their daily routines like when they're out on tour with you?

SUZANNE: Let's see, for the last couple of summers we've been flying a lot. So we'll wake up at eight or nine, have breakfast in the room, get ready to go to the airport, travel for two or three hours in the afternoon, get to the hotel by about four. Check into the hotel. Then we usually go to the venue for a sound check. Depending on the venue, she'll come with me and get some dinner. Or she'll stay in the hotel with her babysitter and go swimming in the swimming pool if they have one. I try and get her to bed by about eight o'clock. It depends on how jet lagged she is, too. Sometimes it's just easier to keep her on her regular schedule. There was one trip to France where she just went to bed at two o'clock every morning and just never came off New York time.

KIM: Coco has actually never been early-to-bed at all. She's always been kind of a night owl.

SUZANNE: Well, Ruby would love to be up until midnight every night if she could. I would, too. But now we're all getting up at 6:30 to get her to school on time. But all of our natural tendencies are to stay up.

KIM: Us, too. But Coco will stay up until ten. Then get up at seven. As far as her routine, if we're on the bus, usually we pull up to some venue, and then we get someone to take us to the hotel and we have breakfast, take a shower, all that stuff. Then if there's a pool, we'll go swimming, or we'll go to a children's museum, or try and find out what there is to do, like a park or something.

SUZANNE: My problem is when I get to the hotel, a lot of times I have to do promotion. They just squeeze me into a room, and I have to make phone calls for two or three hours.

KIM: Sometimes we'll do a couple of phoners in the morning. But see there's more of us, so we can split it up.

SUZANNE: That’s nice. I never have time for those nice moments in the pool with her, so it's usually her and the babysitter while I'm off doing whatever.

KIM: Thurston and I and the babysitter often take turns being with her during the day. I'm always afraid of the nanny getting burned out.

SUZANNE: I have to say, I've had situations with a full-time nanny, and I've had situations with a babysitter. Sometimes it's easier to have a babysitter, because if they get burned out you can just get another babysitter. But with a full-time nanny it's more of a commitment.

KIM: Yes, right.

INGRID: What is nanny burn-out?

SUZANNE: You're watching a kid 24 hours a day ...

KIM: It's just long hours...

SUZANNE: It's exhausting. Also as the nanny, you don't usually get a private room to yourself. A lot of times Ruby would share the room with the nanny or the babysitter, because we'd come in really late at night.

KIM: We usually would have Coco sleep with us. Sometimes when we have adjoining rooms she would opt to sleep with the nanny. But generally she would always sleep in our room.

SUZANNE: What does she do when you're onstage? If you have a late gig, say 11 or 12 o'clock at night?

KIM: Oh, she'd just be asleep in our room.

SUZANNE: By herself?

KIM: No, the nanny would be there and then go to her room.

SUZANNE: Oh, I see. Anyway, It’s hard on a babysitter. I also try to make sure that if I have a night off, that the babysitter gets the night off.

KIM: See, that's the other thing, you never really get a night off. Like when everyone else has a night off, you don't have the night off.

SUZANNE: Right. Because you're the mom. It's just a 24-hour-a-day job. On the road or not. It doesn’t make a difference. If it’s 2 o'clock in the morning, Saturday night, and all of a sudden, your child starts vomiting, you can't say, "Well, it's my night off." KIM: The other thing about touring with a kid that's difficult is that whenever we would go on a tour, Coco would be a different age, so it would always take us a week to figure out what techniques we were going to use.

SUZANNE: Right.

KIM: Because on tour you have to go through so many transitions, and transitions are the hardest things for most kids to go through.

SUZANNE: Yes.

KIM: Going from a car to a plane to a car to a hotel to a club…

SUZANNE: Yeah. It’s tough.

INGRID: Which age was best and which was worst?

KIM: Well, now is best. I guess when she was a baby, that was okay too. But just the car-seat thing. That was grueling.

SUZANNE: You have all this equipment you have to take …

KIM: Right.

SUZANNE: ... the stroller and the diaper bag …

KIM: Just schlepping stuff and packing ... making sure she has everything ... not accidentally leaving behind some favorite toy.

SUZANNE: Right.

KIM: But transitions. That's the hardest thing about touring with a kid, I think.

SUZANNE: I think this last time was the hardest one for us, because she was old enough to really voice her opinion. And she did loudly and often. Like all day. Especially when we were at the venue, and it was time for me to go onstage, or when she had to leave to go back to the hotel, for some reason that was an issue. Whereas last year that was not an issue.

KIM: I find Coco more reasonable now. I can explain things to her. I also think that she now sees that most of the year is spent with her being solid and in one place with her buddies. I'm also much more careful about when to take her back to the hotel, to not let her get over stimulated. Because that's the thing: The guys will want to roughhouse with her, and they just get her really wound up, and then she'll go over the edge. She'll go too far, and you can't get her back.

INGRID: I thought maybe we could end with each of you saying what your favorite thing is about being on the road with your daughter.

SUZANNE: Well, having her with me.

KIM: Yeah.

SUZANNE: That's really pretty much it.

KIM: On the road, there's just so many boring hours of waiting or traveling, it’s great to have her there. Even if I'm too tired to actually play with her, I can watch her.

SUZANNE: Or just be with her. We can cuddle together on the plane or we can lie together on the bus and listen to tapes and stuff. Maybe she can’t appreciate this now, maybe she'll appreciate it when she gets older, but she'll really know what kind of people her family are. She'll know who she's descended from and what we do. I'm happy she can experience this even though she may choose a different path. At least she knows where she comes from.

KIM: Well, I hope that Coco and Ruby get to meet someday.

SUZANNE: Oh, I'd love that.

For more on Suzanne Vega and Kim Gordon, check out these Web sites:

www.vega.net
www.sonicyouth.com
 

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