It’s curious how context plays a decisive role in, basically, everything. Thanks, Roland Barthes, for teaching me this important lesson, I guess? When I asked Kristina Esfandiari these questions, the Charlie Hebdo bloodshed was yet to happen – and to conceive 2015 was just going to start in such a disheartened manner would be hard even for a rock solid pessimist. But it did happen. And theism, once again, shown its most horrific shapes – which kinda puts immediately in check my second question. Way naïf, I must say.
Since early on, Kristina‘s life was blemished by the worst religion has to offer – manipulation, oppression, intolerance. And you do not have to be a Freud‘s disciple to be aware of how childhood traumas affect the remainder of your life. «Doubt», King Woman‘s upcoming EP [to be released Feb. 17th through The Flenser], summons those hardships and it goes beyond them, revolving around an aura of pain which deals with heartbreak and physical abuse as well. With only two singles released so far – «Degrida / Sick Bed» in 2013 and «Dove / Fond Affections» last year -, «Doubt» will be King Woman‘s first record as a full band. Pay attention to what it has to give, for your own sake.
By doing a quick check over the internet, I’ve found that your surname Esfandiari has a strong relation with Iran | Persia. Were you born in the States? Does your family have Persian ancestry?
Yes, I was born in the States. I’m of royal blood according to my father. I have yet to visit Tehran, where my dad is originally from. I want to go there so badly.
The reason why I’ve just asked where you’ve been born is because, as a Portuguese in his mid-twenties, living in what we might call a developed and laic nation, it is hard to picture how religion can still have such a negative influence on someone’s growth whose childhood was spent in a large metropolis like San Francisco. Please, fight back my misconceptions, if religion dogmatism is still taking place in areas we, the outsiders, perceive as open-minded.
I was raised in the suburbs for most of my life. My sisters and I were extremely sheltered from the outside world. I moved to San Francisco when I was 22. How I was raised is unlike what most people have experienced in church. There is nothing open-minded about children being manipulated and brainwashed by adults in the name of God. My anger is towards humans, not “God”. Their stupidity and misuse of influence and intelligence infuriates me. Children are innocent and should be protected and taught to think freely and not out of fear of flames and damnation. That’s unhealthy and wrong.
With religion being the oppression’s epicenter that you had to face since early on, what kind of situations / experiences left the strongest marks on your later life? I’m throwing this question in because “Doubt” press release briefly mentions «abuse», which takes the matter beyond the common «do not do this» and «this is wrong, stay away from it».
I would really rather not disclose too much information online about my childhood because it involves people who I’m close with. People dumping oil on your head and “casting demons out of you” when you’re a child, confused, lacking understanding of consent, it’s horrific. That’s something shitty that happened to me… more than once. I’ve also had night terrors most of my life. There’s a story for ya.
Were your experiences related only to Christianity and Christian dogmatism or did you collide with other religions?
No, I was told every other religion was demonic.
Do you still have any sort of relationship with God/religion? Beyond people’s intolerance, do you believe in a higher force and/or spirituality?
Yes, of course. It’s a constant struggle to find my spiritual balance because I am still trying to learn what is healthy. I’m a late bloomer I guess? I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed by all of this… but HEY, it’s my fucking story and I’ll use it to help others.
You’ve mentioned that you want to spark a conversation about all these topics right after the shows. Is this actually a King Woman’s goal – to reach and help those who need to vent out?
I don’t know that it’s a goal, but it’s something on my heart. I didn’t have anyone to help me and I don’t want anyone to feel as confused and conflicted as I have. It totally robs your enjoyment of life. My lyrics are about all sorts of things, I don’t just write about this one topic. I guess I’ve just always cared too much about other people and their pain.
So, if King Woman is the cathartic outlet for those traumatic past occurrences, how hard is it to pry them open every time you create a song? Have you ever hit some sort of a breaking point, where you just go “fuck it, I can’t do it”?
Nope. Something about the way Colin plays guitar and the way the band writes a song together draws in right out of me. It’s beyond me. Sometimes I don’t even understand the lyrics I write until we’ve performed the song a million times.
Musically speaking, “Doubt” will be the first King Woman’s record with a full band playing, right? When did you feel it was necessary to take this step and turn what once was a lone experience into a shared platform?
Just came together that way. It was meant to be.
Doing more than writing songs is perhaps a sign of artistic maturity and, in “Doubt”, you deal with production and mixing. Did the brief period spend with Whirr helped you in becoming a better musician overall?
It taught me what to avoid and how to be a better leader for our band.
Did this experience give you the confidence to keep producing and mixing in the future?
I’ve always been interested in production. I’ll always do it. In the near future I hope to work with more bands and specifically women. It feels great knowing that I’ve worked with some people who get it, who have a real sense of professionalism. I’ve unfortunately worked with some real creeps as well. I want women to have a safe space to be creative and not have to worry about someone trying to hit on them. I know this is a temporary solution for a bigger problem, but it’s important for women to feel confident and focused in the studio without distractions NOW, not later. If I can help facilitate that, it will give me so much joy.
Amidst all this, will you soon get back to Miserable or “Halloween Dream” is going to be its last records for a while?
Miserable put out a surprise EP called *Dog Days* during the summer of 2014 through Sad Girls Club. It’s the only pop release I’ve done and people fucking loved it! I am currently recording. TheMiserable full length will be called “Uncontrollable” recorded byMax Senna (AKA Bad Boi) and it will be released through The Native Sound.