When singer Kristina Esfandiari started working with her band King Woman on the doomy, droney songs that comprise its debut EP, Doubt, she found herself overwhelmed by a flood of angry lyrics and aggressive emotion, the intensity of which she couldn’t explain at first. Once she sat down to write everything out, it dawned on her where her rage was coming from. “Something stuck inside of me for years and years was dying to be heard,” she says.
That something was born in her childhood, during which Esfandiari was raised in what she calls the “very spiritually oppressive environment” of “a charismatic Christian church.” Her experiences there and her struggle to overcome the psychic scars became the theme of the EP, which you can listen to below.
“The opening track, ‘Wrong’, is about really scary and unsettling things that I saw at church,” the singer says. “I’ve had exorcisms performed on me. I witnessed exorcisms performed on others. Emotional manipulation used on adults and children alike. Even at a young age, I knew there was something so wrong with what I was seeing.
“‘Burn’ is about people in church projecting their image of God onto me and always feeling so judged by their idea of God. All of it really marred my sense of spirituality. It is so hard to find something pure again once that damage has been done.”
It wasn’t until Esfandiari started using psychedelics a few years ago that she began to come to terms with that damage. “My mind started to feel like an onion. I was peeling back so many layers, it seemed complex and never-ending,” she recalls. “I started having flashbacks. I couldn’t believe I had been living such a lie for so long. I considered myself to be an intelligent individual. I guess trying to part ways with a certain mindset was causing cognitive dissonance and it was too uncomfortable for me. My identity was deeply rooted in these false ideas.”
Having first made her name with San Francisco shoegaze outfit Whirr, Esfandiari started King Woman as a form of therapy for herself, and the results can be heard on Doubt, which is part gauzy Mazzy Star-esque fever dream, part lumbering Sabbathian nightmare. The EP will be released on vinyl and digital formats on February 17th via Flenser Records and can be pre-ordered here.