Galore Darling: K. Flay Talks Debut Album & Performing At A Commune

Kristine Flaherty had no childhood dreams of being a rapper but rather stumbled upon her musical inclinations during her college years. Now K. Flay has a full-length album out, Life As A Dog, blurring the lines of alternative music and rap. She is currently travelling on the Warped Tour and we discussed fornication at her concerts, parting ways with a major record label and scaring people with her darker music.

By Shannon Kurlander

K Flay 1

You got into music kind of late. When did you first realize, hey I can rap?
Like you said, I really started a little bit late and on a whim. I was just having an argument with my friend at the time about mainstream rap. It started as a joke and found I could rap and that I liked making music in general. I started playing bizarre house parties and things on campus. Then it started to become a very integral part of my life.

What were your frustrations with mainstream rap?
A lot of stuff at the time was pretty formulaic. However, the last five years there has been a great resurgence of lyrically complex rap on the radio, so that’s great to see.

And when you were playing these house parties, what was the craziest show?
I played a show once in Santa Cruz at a commune. There was literally a couple having sex right in front of me. I’m still not particularly suited for that kind of fornication and especially back then. They were definitely under more than just the influence of the music.

Rapping and performing in general takes a lot of confidence. Where do you get your confidence from and what tips can you give to the rest of us?
I think a lot of it is having an attitude of there’s nothing to lose. I perform and I can’t believe I got up there and did that. It takes a certain degree of confidence and for me it’s something you develop over time. The more you perform the more you gain an internal fortitude. The hardest thing is performing when there’s a bigger mass of people.

Well speaking of performing for bigger crowds, you’re now on the Warped Tour. How’s tour life treating you?
We’ve been on the road pretty consistently the past three years. This is definitely a different kind of tour. It’s huge and pops up in a new city kind of miraculously. It’s cool and it’s a little bit of a different scene. I’m kind of just learning a lot. I’m always looking forward to playing again and it’s nice getting into a rhythm.

What prompted parting ways with RCA Records?
When I was signed one of the interesting things was it was kind of a mix of genres. It didn’t move in any zones in particular. The vision for where the project was headed was very convoluted. People felt is should be alternative or it should be rap. Huge bureaucracy creates a situation where nothing really happens. I felt I had a vision and I was kind of stuck in a purgatory. I had been on the label a few years and hadn’t put out a full-length.

Well congrats because your first full-length album Life As A Dog is out now! Tell us what to expect.
It’s officially out today! I’m kind of excited. I was on FaceTime yesterday for my day off. I was FaceTiming with my manager and team and we were all pretty happy last night at midnight. At it’s core it’s an alternative record with an indie hip-hop spirit that’s always guided the project. It has a more melodic element. It’s a part of making music that I discovered I really love. I hadn’t really sung before. Thematically it’s certainly still dark in places but there’s a hopeful energy to the record.

Have you ever scared any of your family or friends with your darker music?
Definitely, I have gotten a few phone calls. One of the things is that when I’m writing, even if I’m using the first person, it’s not always about me. It’s about people and adopting their mindsets. When I’m feeling happy or at peace I’m not as inspired to write music. It’s a biased sample because it’s often when I’m feeling shitty that I’ll write.

In “Easy Fix” you say Whiskey-Sprite is a decent mix. What’s your recommendation for a good summer mixed drink?
I typically drink whiskey plain in a cup on tour. But my summer recommendation, my mom actually makes this, is a bijou. It’s kind of a bitter drink. Gin, sweet vermouth, chartreuse and a dash of orange bitters. It’s the shit.

Life As A Dog is out now:

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