Creative Space is a series dedicated to exploring the relationships between physical and temporal space and how those relate to an artist’s creative process.
Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Brooklyn musician Kristina Moore, the force behind Kolezanka. Moore began making music as Kolezanka in the desert heat of Phoenix AZ and relocated to New York in 2018. We chatted about her creative spaces past and present and how those influenced her artistic process while writing and recording Kolezanka’s album Place Is, out now on Bar/None Records. Read on for the full conversation 🙂
Slumber: This album is called Place Is, can you describe some of the places that you wrote the album in?
Kristina Moore: I stayed at Arkie (the percussive and bass half of Place Is) and their partner Winter’s home several times between Dec 2018 – February 2020. They lived in a two bedroom backhouse behind a house I lived in at various times for a few years. They always had a room dedicated to music (that moved around all over the house in that time). I spent a lot of time alone there while visiting from New York working on what would become this record. I wrote a lot of it in my first bedroom in NYC. I recorded a lot of the vocals in my closet. There was a public access space off the Marcy J, a huge room with a piano and big windows, that I rented out a few times. I compiled a lot of ideas and lyrics while walking around NYC or phoenix, or on tour in the van or sitting at various venues after soundcheck waiting for a show.
Slumber: What inspired you to name the album Place Is?
Kristina: Defining “place” was thematic to the time much of the record was written. It felt like an open-ended question, “Place is…?”. It also felt like a statement (“Place is!”). Place was a feeling, sometimes it was an actual space, sometimes it was a space outside of linear time, like my childhood home or house show spots in Tempe circa 2013 always *exist* even if they currently don’t exist that way. I loved the notion of a place being a memory visited. In all of the traveling I was doing, identifying a place as something I knew felt like it was my only anchor. When it came time to name the record, that is where I landed.
Slumber: In general, do you write in the same place or room or does the location vary?
Kristina: I think it depends on what I have access to, and what instrument is being used. When I have access to a backyard I like to write outside with an acoustic. I have a separate music room now and have had that before occasionally when I’ve lived alone, but when I’ve had roommates I would set up in my room. Most of the time, things were either on the bed or on the floor. I grew very accustomed to playing keyboards and guitar on the ground. I can surround myself with all the instruments and just turn to whichever one I want to use next.
Sometimes I will write lyrics with a song. I also like to write lyrics alone in a bar. I used to write lyrics while driving and singing to myself. Recently, I’ve really loved taking a long shower or a bath (or a shower that becomes a bath) and writing lyrics there.
Slumber: How have your previous creative spaces differed from your current one?
Kristina: For better or for worse, I lived in a lot of different places in my twenties. There was a year or two in which I didn’t really have a set home and would stay in different places for months at a time while saving up to eventually find a place more permanent. So I would say this space offers me quite a bit more stability, and more privacy. I think I lived in five different places that year. Sometimes they were whole homes, like when my friend Lai Yi allowed me to finish her lease in a one bedroom one July and I could set up my instruments anywhere to record. I also stayed at my best friend’s place for a bit in a tiny, windowless room with a bunk bed, and I would set some things up on the lower bunk so I had room to make things.
I lived alone a few times, one of the most memorable being a two bedroom casita in the Garfield district in Phoenix. I had a whole room I could set things up in and could work at any time of day or night. I was doing a lot of writing at night back then. It was cathartic to me to have that whole room and my own porch just outside, where I would drink wine and smoke cigarettes and write or just look out until twilight. Unfortunately when it got warmer out I soon realized that this very old casita had a leak somewhere and was entirely infested with sewer roaches. A lot of my previous spaces were defined by their temporariness, and took a lot of creativity to set up.
“Place was a feeling, sometimes it was an actual space, sometimes it was a space outside of linear time, like my childhood home or house show spots... I loved the notion of a place being a memory visited. In all of the traveling I was doing, identifying a place as something I knew felt like it was my only anchor.”
Slumber: Is your current creative space dedicated to your practice? Or is it an area you use for other things as well?
Kristina: This space is 100% a music room, which is so nice. The room is so tiny, and we have so many instruments between us I can’t imagine it even having the capacity for anything else.
Slumber: Are there any objects that you need present in a creative space in order to work?
Kristina: Apart from the obvious things like an interface and whatever needs to record, not really. I thought maybe a desk and chair, but those are still new to me in a creative space and half the time I get myself into a hyperfocused writing flurry I forget about them entirely and end up making a tangled mess sitting on the floor with everything. I do prefer at least one window, and also soft light if I’m working at night. I have a lava lamp and a bundle of christmas lights in the space now. I prefer soft light or natural light always, and if I am working at night, I like it to feel like night.
Slumber: What is more conducive to creative writing for you, a small intimate space or a larger space with more room to move and work with?
Kristina: I want to think that I prefer a larger space because I can create such a large spread with things I’m using. But when I think about it, I think a small space feels more like me. I suppose it’s what I’m most used to and think in some ways it makes me feel coddled and cozy, like it is my own tiny word for a moment.
Slumber: Do you prefer your creative spaces to be clean and orderly or more wild and messy?
Kristina: I keep my space very organized. Clutter makes me anxious and I will lose all will to do anything if I can’t find something I need. Our space has a TON of guitar cases and shelves in it and sometimes it feels too tight to me, that there are too many things for that size of a room. But that’s NYC for you. Although I am fairly clean I do tend to make a huge mess, especially on days committed to free writing or working on a lot of things at once. I will usually reach a point where things become too chaotic and I must “reset” the room.
Slumber: Would you describe your writing process as precise and methodical or organic and free flowing?
Kristina: I think when I am approaching something I am actively still working on and working through, I come at it with more poise and precision. I have specific goals I am trying to accomplish, a list of things to do usually (I am a big list person) or a song I already have an idea for. There are some rare and wonderful moments where I calmly sit down with an instrument and write a song to completion without any chaos. But when I am in an actual writing headspace, I become a different person. I feel unhinged, I feel entirely energized and manic. I follow whatever intuition I have, and I usually get out a bunch of things and bounce between them.
Sometimes I can complete a whole song, sometimes I get through something good until I lose steam, sometimes I write like seven vignettes and feel frustrated by all of them and then will listen to one three years later and think “oh, that’s actually kind of cool”. But I would say almost every song begins this way. No matter what, if I feel stuck somewhere and start to feel sad or incapable, I move onto something else or I stop for the day and come back. I trust that I never actually have “writer’s block”, sometimes I am just more open to something and sometimes I’m just not in the right space for a song yet and need to let it marinate.
“...when I am in an actual writing headspace, I become a different person. I feel unhinged, I feel entirely energized and manic. I follow whatever intuition I have, and I usually get out a bunch of things and bounce between them.”
Slumber: Is there a time of day that you prefer for writing?
Kristina: I used to write mostly at night, especially when I was in college or before I started working later nights at restaurants or bars. Now I have transitioned into day writing, usually after 11am and before 5. My favorite thing is having an entire day to write. Usually I might start at 10-11am and take breaks to sit in the shower or stretch. If I am on a streak, I might go until 9 or 10pm. It’s rare now that I write when the sun is down, but I do like to. Writing lyrics definitely happens at night.
Slumber: If Place Is was a time of day, what time of day would it be?
Kristina: The two hours before the sun sets entirely.
Slumber: What is your favorite object in your current creative space?
Kristina: I have an aloe plant in the music room that sits on a shelf with some of our less-used pedals. It feels very friendly and familiar. I also have a stained glass lamp my dziadzu made that I have lit late at night when I’m restless or drunk, listening to demos, both new and old, over and over.
“... this moment, in that space at the time, was the last place I felt like I knew like my own body. I had known it my whole life. But I realized this record is whatever the opposite of that is.”
Slumber: Do you set your space up in any particular way before sitting down to write?
Kristina: I like to always have a drink. Water, or maybe wine if it’s time for that. If I’m creating something then 90% of the time I’ll be plugged in with logic up. There are some occasions where I might spontaneously write on an acoustic on my bed. I’ll have whatever instrument I am using plugged in, usually through my pedals no matter what it is. I don’t ever record with amps, just direct in for demos and workshopping.
Slumber: Do you have any rituals before creating your work?
Kristina: I want to say no, but I spent much of the lockdowns in New York unemployed and I think because of that, I have pretty specific every morning rituals that have also become rituals before writing time. Having coffee and reading, stretching and running some scales. Lately I have been doing dexterity exercises. There are a lot of things that are made outside of any scheduled creative time, so I have always felt things occur too spontaneously to be preceded by any ritual
Slumber: What does your creative space smell like?
Kristina: I think probably… brick. And that stuffy woody smell of an old building. Most of our apartment smells like that but I have gotten so used to it that I find it strangely comforting. I use an oil diffuser throughout the apartment to try to keep some of the secondhand smoke from the other units in our building and summertime blooming trash smells from outside at bay. So I suppose it probably smells faintly of lavender and clove, and also maybe cigarette smoke and wet trash.
Slumber: If your album, Place Is, was a physical room, what would that room be like?
Kristina: I am almost embarrassed to say I am like… fighting off a panic attack answering this one, haha.
Slumber: Oh no! That was not my intention…
Kristina: My first instinct was to say my living room in my childhood home during Christmas. It’s nighttime on Christmas Eve and the room is warm and dark, except for the Christmas tree. It is my last Christmas before our home will be sold and my parents will move up north.
This moment, in that space at the time, was the last place I felt like I knew like my own body. I had known it my whole life. But I realized this record is whatever the opposite of that is. It’s a long road in the midwest that I’ve never driven before. Or like waking up in the middle of the night in a room that feels familiar but you’ve never slept in before. Or like visiting a new city or town, but doing so with a friend. It’s like when my brother and I decide to drive out west to Waddell to see our old house and feel stricken by how something can change so much but still look the same
Slumber: What color is it?
Kristina: Muted blues like indigo, but also dark oranges and rust
Slumber: What is the temperature like?
Kristina: Definitely either too hot or too cold, no in between.
Slumber: Are there any physical objects you associate with the writing of Place Is?
Kristina: Stairs, especially stairs that lead to an entrance or an exit.
Slumber: Of all the spaces that you wrote or recorded Place Is in, do you have a favorite?
I think my favorite was more of a moment than a space. It was winter 2018 and I had just finished my third tour with Triathalon and had just moved to NYC in October but had landed back in Phoenix to spend Christmas at home. I was staying at Arkie and Winter’s home while they were visiting Florida. I had walked around the Garfield neighborhood that night and felt like I was in limbo, not quite settled in New York yet but also no longer a resident of Phoenix. I had spent a month surrounded by such talented musicians and felt more capable and confident as a musician than I had in a long time. After my evening walk I got back to their house and wrote the first song for the record, $40, in its entirety (sans live drums). It felt like a turning point, like I had attained some new sense of clarity.
Have a listen to Koleżanka’s latest LP via Bar/None Records, Place Is, below: