We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Galisatus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by musicians and artists who make honest art. It’s hard to do that with a lot of external and internal pressures getting in the way, and I have such respect and admiration for those who do whatever they want in pursuit of self-expression in whatever that means to the artist. I’m also inspired by the people in my life – friends, family, peers – who put love first, whether that manifests through compassion and care, the pursuit of living the most genuine and honest life, or a commitment to justice.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have a background in classical piano and shifted towards a focus in jazz and composition in late high school, early college. My journey post-college, however, has been one of reclamation. Jazz is a male-dominated art form, and I had found myself trying to be considered “part of the scene” by showing that I could play “like the men.” It’s been a process, but I frankly grew tired of trying to sound like the men sound to prove that I can play. Playing fast, playing loud, playing technically difficult things – I’m all for it if it’s honest, but it often isn’t when it’s coming from me. Especially as a mixed Asian woman, I’m trying to reclaim the femininity, beauty, and softness in my art – because that’s who I am and that’s what feels most honest to me. I hope that we can eventually live in a world in which women and non-binary people don’t have to prove they can play like men in order to gain any respect.
Terri Lyne Carrington put it well in her blog post “Dismantling Patriarchy is a Daily Practice”: “The standard for the sound we identify as good in jazz was created by men, so most of the women that succeed are women that people can successfully compare to male musicians. I doubt we will have gender parity until enough people are open to a different sound without the same comparative stance, a sound they’ve possibly not heard yet – the sound of jazz without patriarchy.”
Avoiding the urge to comparatively sound like men – something that is inherently and fundamentally tied to the dismantling of white supremacy and the patriarchy – is resistance, and is something I’m constantly thinking about in my piano playing and my compositions.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The food in LA is amazing, and one of my favorite things to do with the people I love is share food together! My all time favorite place to eat is a pop-up called Tacos Sin Karma, a small local business that makes the most flavorful plant-based tacos, nachos, and burritos, most frequently popping up in a couple different East LA spots. I also love the falafel wraps from Dune, a Mediterranean restaurant in Atwater Village. There is also a Taiwanese place called Joy in Highland Park that I absolutely love. Aside from food, I love to show people the less crowded parks/hiking spots in town – a park with a beautiful pond (with lots of turtles) near where I live called Ernest E. Debs, a light hike in the El Prieto Canyon in Altadena, or the walk up Elephant Hill behind my house with views of downtown and the mountains.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so, so many people who have played integral roles in getting me where I am today. First and foremost, my family has always been so supportive of my music endeavors, from putting me through private lessons growing up to going to see me play in almost every performance I’ve ever been a part of. The love and encouragement is unparalleled. I am also lucky to receive so much support from my partner, Zev, whose steadfast commitment to creating honest art encourages me to do the same. Additionally, so much of my growth comes directly from the musicians that I have played with and learned from, all of whom deserve endless thanks. I am also forever thankful for my friends who have provided an immense amount of love and encouragement, always inspiring me to take care of myself and hold my passions closely.
Other: Patreon: patreon.com/christinagalisatus