Creative Technology? Anastasia Kristensen Talks
Anastasia Kristensen is very much an emerging talent at the moment but don’t let that fool you. Her current and much deserved place in the spotlight has been based on years of hard work, absorbing musical influences and tinkering in her studio. Having relocated to Copenhagen from her native Moscow, Kristensen holds down a residency at the legendary Culture Box and has chalked up a number of quality releases showcasing her unique blend of wonky acidic techno. Anastasia is going from strength to strength at the moment, having just announced she will be playing at Berlin's Atonal and has more announcements in the pipeline so now seemed like a great time to get into her mind and find out how she interacts with the creative technology that shapes her sound.
Tell me about how you first connected with making music. What was the software or hardware that you used first? Was it love at first sight?
I began to experiment with Chiptune when I was around 17 years old, but quickly dropped that to continue my school studies. I sort-of stumbled back onto music-making only a few years back at a friend's place in Berlin, which definitely gave me the initial push to continue to learn software and make music. It was definitely an eye-opening experience and made me realize there's pretty much an infinite amount of possibilities that can be explored through the digital realm.
Describe the space in which you create music. Do you have a studio? Just a spare room/bedroom? Covered in junk? Super-slick modernist design heaven?
I make music in my home studio – located in the living room with only a few essential tools surrounding me: an audio interface hidden under the table, monitoring system, a smaller and simple DJ set-up that reads USB for recording mixes and practice, a Sonic Potions LXR and a few MIDI toys used for tweaking purposes.
I can't work around clutter, so my surroundings affect me a lot. I guess you can call it super-slick modernist (Danish) design heaven then? Have a look for yourself.
Do you feel that your studio space influences the way you make music? Does it affect your personal headspace or is it just a place to go where you express your ideas?
I think I would not be able to finish tracks anywhere else than my studio, however going to friends and peers place to fool around and collaborate does help create new ideas for my own productions. I am still developing new techniques and try to learn as much as I can, but I am becoming very aware of what time I have whilst traveling to play gigs on the weekends. This summer I've taken a few days off work (and play) to dedicate to some long-awaited production time. I definitely get into the zone for producing whenever I can, whether it be processing some internal emotions or using it as a means towards catharsis. Music calms me down, lifts me up, aggravates and soothes me all at once, it's a non-material soulmate that I can always rely on.
Photo credit – Julia Spicina
When working on music do you get an idea in your head and then use your software to realise that idea, or do you just start tweaking and see what happens?
Both. I can start with an idea, but can end up with tweaking it just to see what happens. I usually find that "one cool sound" to build the track around. However, if I'm being perfectly frank, I think every single time I am working on something I try to make it as unique as possible. I do not have a "signature sound" that I embrace and plan to showcase with future releases down the road. I would rather not let the music I make be categorized in any shelf, box or sub-genre. I believe in creative freedom, versatility and curiosity – wherever that leads to is the fun part!
Do you ever feel like a great idea, or an exciting feeling gets lost once you start trying to realise it in the studio?
I think if it does, I somehow manage to develop three other ideas meanwhile. So I rarely find myself upset or frustrated with this.
Photo credit – Julia Spicina
Your brand of techno feels to me very hypnotic while still being quite busy and energetic. Does that sound like a good interpretation? Did it take you a long time to come up with “your sound” or did this just come naturally to you?
I would say it's definitely is on the "trippy" end, but has a very clear character and sonic "statement". Much like when I DJ, I feel like "my sound" is still evolving, waiting for its reveal. What I'm putting out next will be different than what I've released before, even though technically it has a similar framework. I can't say much more about it, but I am very psyched for its impending release.
Do you ever get stuck creatively in the studio? What are your strategies to break down the creative block?
Constantly, especially when I'm approaching the finish line. My strategy is to step away from production and return clear-headed, then venture onto other projects I've been working on to see what else I can add or change in them, it gives new life to what I started and can shape it into something different or better. Also, seeing others do something is very inspirational to me, whether it be a YouTube video or someone close by in Copenhagen.