American actress Chloë Sevigny, known for her work in experimental indie films like Gummo and The Brown Bunny as well as mainstream stalwarts such as David Fincher’s Zodiac, has been able to forge one hell of a career. She has several awards to her name, including a Golden Globe Award, a Satellite Award, an Independent Spirit Award, as well as nominations for an Academy Award and three Screen Actors Guild Award as she carved out a niche area of the film industry for her unique approach to the art of acting. While her credentials for Hollywood and beyond are more than impressive, her start on screen was a little more out of leftfield.
As a teenager, Sevigny made her acting debut as part of a music video for Sonic Youth and their song ‘Sugar Kane’. Filmed in 1992, the role transformed Sevigny from an archetypal New York ‘It Girl’ into a semi-star. While, of course, it would need Sevigny’s searing talent to push her on to the heights her career has reached, the first call from Hollywood came from the music world.
Sonic Youth were, at the time, one of the biggest bands around. The bonafide royalty of no wave music, the band had cultivated a sense of unmatchable cool that few dared try to level up against. Comprised of Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, the band had only really just broken into the mainstream when they needed a video for their new single ‘Sugar Kane’.
The track arrived as part of Dirty, the band’s 1992 follow-up to their enigmatic LP Goo and was quickly seen as their lead single. As with every release in the early nineties, MTV demanded a music video and the band, now signed with a major label, Sonic Youth had the clout and the cash to pull of a great one and so set about drafting their dream line-up of creators. The video was direct by Nick Egan and shot in New York City.
It saw the band perform in the midst of a fashion show that was laughably showcasing ‘grunge’ clothing. It was a referential point on the acceptance of the outsider genre within the mainstream and its inevitable commercialisation. But where could the band find the fashion chops needed to pull something like this off? Kim Gordon was luckily on hand to provide all the assistance they needed as she called on close friend Marc Jacobs to design the “grunge collection”.
Perhaps the most interesting moment, however, arrives with Sevigny’s appearance in the clip. She enters the fashion show, disrupting the models as she goes, completely nude (aside from some censorship) and makes the point that stripped bare is always better than cheap commercialisation. It’s a fun piece of nineties trivia that should lighten up a few conversations. It wasn’t the final time Sevigny worked with Sonic Youth either, the actress teaming up with Kim Gordon to model for her X-Girl line of clothing.
For now, sit back and watch a pre-fame Chloë Sevigny made her on-screen debut with Sonic Youth for their song ‘Sugar Kane’