Born and raised in the American state of Illinois, twenty-six year old K.Flay is far from your average hip-hop artist. K.Flay, real name Kristine Flaherty, grew up in a town half an hour north of Chicago, before moving to California to attend university. Alongside her studies in psychology and sociology, Flaherty started to experiment with writing and making music, but little did she know that what started off as a pastime with friends would transform into her future career.
K.Flay has been around the music scene since 2004, but it is in only in the past couple of years that she has really started to make real headway. She has opened shows for the likes of 3OH!3 and Passion Pit, and her recently released E.P. Eyes Shut is an assertive reaction to the notion of apathy. Filled with intelligent dialogue, balancing the humorous with the thoughtful, Eyes Shut is sure to make an impact on both sides of the Atlantic this year.
We caught up with K.Flay during her recent trip to the UK to find out more about the girl behind the lyrics.
For us Brits who might not know much about you and your music, can you give us a bit of background information about yourself?
Sure. I’m from just outside Chicago, but live in San Francisco, California, where I study at Stanford University. My style is a mixture of rap and electro beats, infused with some indie and rock. It’s a blend of all musical genres really. I was never really sure what I wanted to do as a career, but I definitely didn’t think that I would end up making music! In fact, when I first started experimenting with music, it was all for fun really.
I had a really eye-opening conversation with a friend about mainstream hip-hop and rap music, and that’s where it all started really. I made a track to try and demonstrate that even I could write something catchy and ‘mainstream’, and that experience really captivated me. I ended up making beats and I would perform on campus, and it all seemed to take off from there.
You are quite eclectic in terms of the kind of music you make, so you must have a variety of influences. Who are your favourite artists?
I am really captivated by female singers. I love Emily Haines, PJ Harvey and Fiona Apple. I love indie-rock singers. I also really love Outkast – I love that they have such an involved, natural way of doing what they do. They’re weird too, which I like. I’d love to collaborate with Big Boi. I love his beats and I’m a big fan of the stuff he’s putting out at the moment.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face so far in your career?
The most challenging thing I’ve had to do has been figuring out my own individual voice. I produce, I rap and I sing, and such a wide range of styles can sometimes be overwhelming, yet also liberating and energising. The opportunities are endless, but this can also sometimes make me feel paralysed because of the huge range of music I can make.
Eyes Shut is a really big step in the right direction in terms of solidifying my voice, in my opinion. I feel very comfortable with the musical styles I have used on the E.P.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t making music?
Wow, a lot of people ask me this and I always feel like an idiot having no answer! To be honest I’d probably be planning to go to graduate school, which would be a bummer because music is way more fun! I don’t know…maybe I’d end up working for Google or something! Who knows?
What are your plans for the next year or so in terms of releases, touring, collaborations, etc?
Well, I'm in London recording tracks for my album, which is hopefully going to be released in August. It’s been a fun journey making my first album, and I am really proud of the songs that I’m putting on there. It’s been a big project too, with a lot of diversity. I’ve had the freedom to do loads of different things. In April and May I am touring the USA, and I suppose I’m just going to be doing a lot of promotion for the album. I want to come back to the UK to do some shows over here too! It’s important for me to engage with my fans, so live shows are important to me when I’m promoting my releases.
For more information, visit K.Flay's official website