This week's SFist Memoirs begins in the early 1990s with Kylee Swenson Gordon, who is one of the founding members of the long-time, S.F. band, Loquat. Kylee's first San Francisco experiences as a young small-town girl from Minnesota served as an impressive crash-course in rock 'n' roll, helping to shape her into the music veteran that she is today.

I'm a really small-town girl from Minnesota. I grew up in a town called Orono, which doesn't have a zip code, so it's technically a village. I moved to California to go to school. I went to Santa Clara University and worked at the radio station there, KSCU, which is where I met Eric Becker.

The goth scene:

Santa Clara is a pretty conservative Jesuit university, which is why my parents wanted me to go there. But I ended up finding the liberal people there anyway — all eight of them. A friend and I would always drive up to the city to go to a club called Drug 6. I couldn't really pull off goth. I loved the music, like Christian Death, KMFDM, My LIfe With The Thrill Kill Cult, Siouxsie Sioux, and The Cure, but I didn't really pull it off. I liked color too much. I'd go to these clubs and feel a little bit like an outcast. I'd go from a super conservative college where I was totally weird and different with my orange pants, blue hair, and nose ring to a subversive club where I totally didn't fit in either.

There would be dudes in fishnet body suits with skull-buckle boots, and I remember how awesome the dancing was. Lots of hand movements and people dancing in cages. It was awesome just to be a spectator of that.


I was in a band with my friend Keith Crate. I was 20 and learning how to play guitar and sing. I was totally unprepared to play live, but he forced me to play my first show, which was opening for Jefferson Starship. That was torture.

Then I moved to San Francisco. I had started hanging out a lot in San Francisco and thought, "This place is magical." I was lured to it, a small-town girl moving to the big city, but it's not so big that it's crazy intimidating like New York. It was a size that I could handle. You'd run into people easily — even if you didn't know that many people — because it's so small.

I first started hanging out with Brian Jonestown Massacre. I dated one of their 40 drummers for a minute and got to see the inner-workings of the band, and the fights. I didn't really get to know Anton, but he scared the hell out of me. He had this really wild look in his eye. I was 19 or 20 and totally scared of him.

I remember going to see them open for Oasis at Bottom of the Hill, which was a crazy show. Their guitar player was a functioning heroin addict for years, and he had this very elaborate hair thing with all these bobby pins. He showed up an hour late to the show, missed the soundcheck, and spent the whole night sitting on the floor tuning his guitar. So Anton lost his shit, and yelled, "YOU'RE FUCKING FIRED!"

Hanging out with this band was kind of my entry into San Francisco life — not knowing that there would one day be this documentary about them.

The Western Addition:

So when I moved to San Francisco, I got an apartment in the Western Addition where I lived for 14 years. It was one of four French Baroque buildings in the city apparently. According to my landlord, it was run as a brothel in the 1930s by a woman who later became the mayor of Sausalito. Decades later it was a heroin den, and at one point it had some kind of vampire den. My landlord said she had tried to paint over the blood of whatever they had sacrificed, and it ate through the paint.

I have memories of moving into that apartment and there was a woman outside crying and saying, "I can't find my crack!"

The beginning of Loquat:

I met up with Eric Becker, who lived a block and a half away. He was saying in his story how he had this Juno 106 keyboard. He introduced me to his friend Earl, and we made a song right then and there. Eric brought out his drum machine, Earl started recording the guitar and synth, and then I sang. Of course I made them leave the room because at the time I couldn't handle it if anybody was even around if I was singing.

We were really excited because we didn't know what we had stumbled upon. We were having so much fun. It was a complete accident.

And the rest is history...

Loquat's still going strong today. They have a new album out, We Could Be Arsonists, which is available on iTunes as of today. The CD will be released next week, and the band's album release party is taking place on Friday, April 27th at the Independent. Also, be sure to check out their new video, "Time Bending." Read more about Loquat in the Chronicle's 96 Hours, and check Kylee out singing "Just Like Honey" with The Jesus and Mary Chain at this year's South by Southwest festival.

Calling all Bay Area natives and long-time residents! You have a story. We want to hear it: [email protected]