koleżanka has released her new album titled ‘Place Is’. Dark in places, electronic in others, and deep in all, ‘Place Is’ is a journey easy on the ears and diligent in providing those original, sometimes brilliantly awkward hooks with an almost freeform style in the vein of old school jazz musicians. Don’t bother guessing where some of these songs take you, because they will do the opposite. But, why would you read a book if you know how it will turn out?
Phoenix-born and Brooklyn-based Kristina Moore, along with percussionist/multi-instrumentalist Ark Calkins, writes songs about the anti-place, a state of being understood by truckers, deckhands, flight attendants, and touring musicians. An in-between existence where home becomes blurry, and improvised routines provide temporary comfort. Her songs grapple with the anxieties we often push away or have been trained to view as a part of our everyday existence.
koleżanka announced her signing to Bar/None Records with the Broadcast and Stereolab influenced “Vegan Sushi” and followed it up with her album announcement and second single “7th st/ 7th ave”, which premiered at NPR’s All Songs Considered where Bob Boilen drew comparisons to Cate Le Bon. koleżanka’s third single, “In A Meeting” opens with dramatic keys and a slow-building rhythm section while Moore coos over the track adding slick guitar lines before the song opens up into a kaleidoscoping avalanche of synths and roiling drums.
The music video that accompanies “In A Meeting” was shot in Bushwick and informed by Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2019 short film, Nimic. It is a tense and beautiful video that attempts to capture the social anxieties Moore writes about, the attempts to escape it, and the inevitability of its return. “A Mouthful” the opening track on koleżanka’s new album, is an introduction to Kristina Moore’s brutally honest explorations of the mentally, emotionally, and physically exacting experience of precarity. Moore delves into her experience working in the service industry, the unacceptable intrusions of men in public, and a particularly harrowing experience on her last single.
In a previous life, Moore found structure in the unique contours of a ranching town in West Phoenix, where scorpions shared her home, and the streets belonged more to coyotes than vehicles or pedestrians. Her grandpa’s polka club was the center of the universe, its gravitational pull strong and comforting, a refuge where older Poles would come to sing and dance. There was even a brief time when they shared a roof with him, and nights not at the club were spent gathered around an old karaoke machine. Piano lessons proved ill-fitting, but when Moore joined the choir in her local Catholic Church, she fell in love with the larger than life hymns.
Despite a youth steeped in music, it wasn’t until late high school that her first band came together, inspired by the freedom she found in their theatre program, and making use of an old accordion she’d inherited from her grandparents. After school, Moore moved to Omaha, where she spent a year writing her own songs before returning to Phoenix. She remembers this time fondly, booking tours through Myspace and printing out directions from MapQuest, performing in makeshift venues around the country and sleeping on floors and couches – a DIY crash course familiar to any lifer who got their start in the late aughts.
In 2016, she adopted the koleżanka name, which roughly translates to colleague, or a friendly acquaintance, a tongue-in-cheek comment on the competitive and male-dominated music scene she was navigating, and a nod to the bond she felt with the other women coming up against these same obstacles. “We were a minority presence, instant colleagues”, she explains. It was around this same time that she met the members of Triathalon, a rising indie band from New York, and struck up a friendship. Before long, she’d been invited to join the band, handling keys and backing vocals on their first national headline tour, and eventually moving out east to join them full time. One whirlwind year later, her stint with the group was over, and her life in the new city a burning question mark.
koleżanka’s debut album, Place Is, distills the experiences of a lifetime into sound.