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Interview with Kristina Moore, TedxPhoenix 2015’s Musical Act

TED conference, TEDxPHOENIX 2015,  TEDxPHOENIX, Press PlayAfter a short hiatus, TEDxPHOENIX is back with the theme Press Play, “a look at what it takes to drown out the noise, ignore the odds, and choose your own adventure.” The not-for-profit event, organized by a group of sponsors and volunteers, will be held on Sunday, April 26 at Mesa Arts Center from 2 P.M. to 6:30 P.M..

TEDxPhoenix started circa 2009, when TED launched its TEDx program that focused on bringing this experience to communities around the world.

Even people who have never attended a conference have likely heard a stimulating story or motivational quote from TED speakers of the past few decades.

Press Play will include talks by filmmaker, author and private coach Bristol Baughan; research fellow Rachel Bloom; actress and playwright Esther K. Chae; designer Brandon Gore; atmospheric scientist Karen Kosiba; comedian Danny Lobell; sculptor Macy McKenny; and photographer and explorer Camille Seaman. Learn more about the speakers hereKristina Moore, formerly Where Are All the Buffalo? and currently Pageant, will be the musical entertainment for the event.

TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. The “ideas worth spreading” conference was founded as a one-time meet up in 1984 but extended its life longer than the organizers could have imagined. It has grown to include global events in which speakers — entertainers, educators, designers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, adventurers, social activists, scientists and more — share their passions, ideas and stories.

When you think of TED, think of knowledge. When you go to a TED event, go with an open mind. Press Play in Phoenix tickets, $49, are on sale now.

Below, read our interview with Moore, the Press Play! musical act…
Kristina Moore, photo by Rob Adelman

Kristina Moore, photo by Rob Adelman

THE SPEC: Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your musical background?
KRISTINA MOORE: My name is Kristina Moore and I am a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter. My current project is Pageant, an experimental folk band that I share with a handful of friends, most recently Gina Lacagnina and Mariah Brown.

I grew up with a Polish-American Catholic mother whose family and traditions influenced my understanding of music greatly. I took piano lessons as a child, danced the polka at the Pulaski Club every weekend, and sang in our church’s choir. My grandfather and many of his brothers and sisters were also musicians and artists. He encouraged the musician in me the most. In fact, the first accordion I ever played was his grandfather’s 120 base.

TS: You are, perhaps, best known for performing under the name Where Are All The Buffalo? and have recently taken on the moniker Pageant. Can you explain the differences in your approach to these two musical projects?
KM: I began Where Are All the Buffalo? when I was 19 and living in Omaha, Neb. I was in a period of self-exploration and WAATB? served as a platform for understanding myself, both as a musician and as a person. I was most interested in the traditional folk sound, working with my accordion, and audience participation. I used to carry a suitcase of percussive instruments that would be passed between audience members. It was incredibly fun, and quite cacophonous at times!

Back then, I was most interested with the experience of performance. Songwriting was simple, straight-forward, and an opportunity to tell a story. As I finished up recording my first EP, I had discovered the importance of composition, as well as a drive to challenge myself and my musicianship.

Honestly, I have wanted to change the name of this project for a long time. WAATB? is something I no longer identify with. I have grown away from the folk sound, as well as parted ways with some long-time collaborators and friends in WAATB?. And let’s be honest, the name was incredibly long and wordy! Now my focus is redirected, and I am performing with an entirely new cast of incredible people. I felt like it was finally time to make the change.

TS: How did you decide on the name pageant?
KM: I initially chose the name (along with a handful of others) because it sounded nice. Then I pitched the name to a friend and he challenged me about it, who said he thought there was an association between three young women creating soft, lilting music and gendered norms that a “beauty” pageant perpetuates.

I don’t think there is anything submissive, girlish, or less sophisticated about a softer sound. I resent the idea that soft-sounding music is inherently feminine or that the music I make is “predictably feminine.” I also think one should be able to navigate this societal pageant and come out fulfilled without having to erase their own femininity.

It probably sounds really cheeseball, but I feel like everyone is participating in some sort of pageant. I write a lot about expectations, trials and tribulations surrounding gender and performance. The name suddenly seemed incredibly relevant.

TS: Tell us a little about your forthcoming full-length album.
KM: I have been working on this album for over a year now. I recorded a part of it at Analog 513 in Tempe with my friend and ex-bandmate, Dominic Armstrong. I recorded another part in Montauk, N.Y. with Eamon Ford and help from Sam Cogen. Ford and I will be finishing up the album here in Phoenix, and I also have some work to do with Dom at 513. I hope that everything will be ready to release by the end of May! After that, we’ll be planning a summer tour. I am beyond excited for everything. I’ve been so lucky to have had so much help from friends.

It’s taken so long because I’m so indecisive about the final track list. I keep cutting older songs to make room for newer songs that have yet to be recorded. I get so excited about the new ones, I feel like they need to happen NOW! Seems like a larger metaphor for my life, honestly. I have a problem with being patient.

TS: What do you like most about Phoenix and/or Arizona? Feel free to share some of your favorite musicians and places.
KM: I grew up here in Waddell on the far west side. Waddell will always be home, even if they bury it under master-planned communities and retail warehouses.

I feel like in a city like this, where one’s sense of place is under constant threat by homogenous development and track home suburbs, it takes a lot of resilience, optimism, and hard work to stay and maintain whatever sense of home and community one might have. I think that’s something I love most about Phoenix. The people who are resilient, diligent, and devote time and effort to their projects despite the odds (and there are so, so many) are the reason why I love this Phoenix. The spaces these people occupy and the spaces they work to save are my favorite places.

Our arts community is as diverse as the biomes that occupy this state; I don’t know if there is something I love more than another. I love it all because it is all so incredibly different and unique.

TS: This year’s TED theme is Press Play, “a look at what it takes to drown out the noise, ignore the odds, and write your own adventure.” Can you share a few songs or musicians you press play on during creative blocks or missteps in life?
KM: Always, always David Bowie.

See Moore on a live stage before TEDxPhoenix, when Pageant performs with Human Behavior (from Tucson) and Saw Fox (from the Moon) this Friday, March 6 in Tempe. Tickets are $5 or “free for dues paying members.” For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

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