King Woman Interview “I could have let it ruin my life. Instead I took control of things”

king woman

Created In The Image Of Suffering is out on February 24th via Relapse Records.

There’s no two ways about it, San Francisco’s King Woman are one of the most hypnotically powerful and thunderous outfits we have heard in years. Musically, molasses thick sludgy riffs vie with pummeling drums for centre stage. Ever note is carefully considered and slowed to craft an atmosphere of exquisite tension. Despite the wondering of the swirling soundscapes, this is simply just the foundation that plays second fiddle to Kristina Esfandiari’s spectral and ethereal vocals. Contrasting wonderfully with the furious distortion, her vocals also contribute indelibly to the foreboding tone of the music on offer.

We were lucky enough to have a chat with Kristina and Peter Arensdorf (bass) about working with Relapse Records, the influence of Kristina’s religious upbringing on their lyrics, and their feelings about Donald J Trump.

Overblown: Your debut album Created In The Image of Suffering is out on February 24th via Relapse Records. Is it exciting to be working with one of the biggest record labels in metal?

Peter: Absolutely. They’ve been really great to us. I’ve had so much respect for them for years that it still seems a bit surreal to be a part of the whole thing.

O: For me, your music really seems to aim to straddle the metal world and, I guess, the alternative music scene. Is this your intention or something that has just happened organically?

Peter: I don’t think that we approach it with a direct intent to create something that straddles lines but just kinda based on our backgrounds and interests and listening habits it seems like we always move toward that. There’s some sort of unsaid aesthetic that I know we all strive toward but one of the things that I love about the band is that I can come in with some weird ideas and they’re given time and consideration. I think that a lot of times I write something that sounds really “pretty” and then think, how can I make this sound more sinister or eerie or psychedelic.

I remember reading some article on Led Zep years ago and seeing that they all drew influences from far different places. At the time I was obsessed with Zeppelin and it came as somewhat of a revelation to me that I could love music like that but still want to play or draw inspiration from things way outside of that “sound”. I love metal but I also love jazz, 90’s indie rock, ragas, drone, hip hop. Everything has something to pick out and use as inspiration.

O: The song ‘Deny’, and the video for the track, really struck a chord with me. I am a lapsed Catholic and grew up with a lot of shame and guilt. Are these things that you have struggled with in your life also?

Kristina: I was raised in a Charasmatic Christian church. So yeah, I could have let it ruin my life but instead I took control of things and spent some time considering what kind of person I wanted to become and allowed myself some time to shed these archaic ideas about the world. It’s quite difficult when it’s all you’ve known for most of your life. Some people don’t get it and why would they? Unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, you wouldn’t.

king woman
‘Created In The Image Of Suffering’ album artwork.

O: The artwork for your album is quite chaotic. Who created and what inspired it?

Kristina: I saw the album art in a weird vision and explained what I wanted to my dear friend Pedro. He made it come to life and completely nailed it.

O: Another new song, ‘Utopia’, has a sense of search and want in the lyrics. What inspired that song?

Kristina: The song is about sitting with a Shaman in an Ayahuasca ceremony. It greatly affected me and I started working on the album shortly after that experience. I wasn’t sure what the lyrics were going to be when we started working on the song but they came out once we got to the studio.

O: Are you interested in politics? What do you think of Trump’s presidency so far?

Peter: I don’t have a lot to say here that hasn’t been said already (and likely, much more eloquently). I will say this, though, I was at LAX for the recent travel ban protest a couple weeks ago and on the way back to the van, a small woman in a hijab stopped us and, with tears in her eyes, said thank you, over and over. It was so touching and a testament to her humanity. I could say a million negative things about Trump and his regime (and often do) but I think that it’s important for us to gain strength from and support from each other because we’re not going to defeat this xenophobic and racist agenda by ourselves.

O: You have a rather extensive tour of Europe on the horizon with Chelsea Widow and True Widow. Is this your first tour of Europe? Is there anything you are particularly interested in checking out?

Peter: First Europe tour for me (and for us). I’ve just heard so many great things about shows in Europe I’m looking forward to meeting new people, playing new places, seeing some sights with what limited time we have in each stop. I will have to say, Saint Lukes in Glasgow looks especially beautiful, very excited for that.

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