In conversation with K.Flay

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Interview by Shannon Lawlor

Kristine Flaherty, better known as K.Flay is an American producer, musician and vocalist currently based in Wilmette, Illinois. K.Flay’s music has been deemed genre-defying, for her blending of different atmospheres and tones, from pop-induced indie-rock, to energized electro, to hip-hop inspired delivery and production techniques. To date K.Flay has released numerous singles, EPs, collaborations and two full length albums, including 2017’s Every Where Is Some Where, released on both Interscope and Night Street Records, the debut record on an imprint founded by Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds. The album went on to receive two nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards, for “Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical and for “Best Rock Song” for her ferocious track ‘Blood In The Cut’.

K.Flay’s music has been featured on the surrealist animated TV series Bojack Horseman, as well as for an announcement trailer for the popular racing video-game Forza Motorsport 7, jolting her even further down the rabbit-hole realm of sound. And in 2018, K.Flay contributed original music to the upcoming Tomb Raider film directed by Roar Uthaug, based on the video-game series of the same, and continues to astonish audiences worldwide with her empowering eclecticism.

We caught up with K.Flay on family relics and seeking balance:

For anyone foreign to K.Flay’s captivating cadence, how would you personally describe the music you create?

I don’t have a great answer for that, because I’ve never made music according to labels or genre. I think i’d describe it as ‘honest’. But i leave it up to listeners to decide!

Your latest album Every Where Is Some Where was released on April 4th 2017 via Interscope / Night Street Records. Could you detail this recording process, and how it may have differed to Life as a Dog’s 2014 recording session?

Recording ‘Life as a Dog’ was sort of an uncertain process. I’d just gotten out of my first record deal, and felt unsure of what would come next. The recording process in that case was crowdfunded by fans (which i remain infinitely grateful for) and happened relatively quickly. For ‘Every Where is Some Where’, I had a greater sense of what I wanted to accomplish, and a better sense of how I might do it – more confidence and experience. I worked on the songs in Nashville and LA with a few trusted producers over the course of a year or so, went on tour for a bit, then a few weeks of writing & recording.. That sort of thing. I think it was good for me to have that balance between shows and studio time.

Soaking in sentiment and ripe in reflection, your lyrical content seems to come from the purest of places – especially notable in songs such as ‘Giver’. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind writing this specific piece?

‘Giver’ stems from my experiences touring, being far away from so many of the people I love, and worrying that I’m not living up to a version of myself that I aspire to. I think we’re all walking around with two selves – the one in our head, and the one that walks and talks and makes decisions. and I feel like I’m trying to merge those two selves. I want to give myself fully to the world, but it’s not always easy.

Do you find that your current working environment is egalitarian? And have you ever faced discrimination as a woman in the music industry?

I do. I’ve been lucky enough to build my own team over the years, which essentially means I get to say ‘this is the culture, do you share these values?’ and the central values are mutual respect, egalitarianism, passion for the work. It’s hard to parse out discrimination within the music industry from discrimination in society at large. Because misogyny is endemic and often imperceptible. So yes, of course I’ve faced discrimination, but within my team, my label, my publisher and my agent, I don’t feel that.

If so, how would you like to see this change?

I think it starts with an open dialogue, which is something we’re beginning to have, and it’s incredible. The second step is actively making an effort to open up the means of production (executive positions on the business side, production & engineering positions on the creative side) to women, to people of colour and to LGBTQ folks.

So far, what are some of your most memorable career highlights?

That’s hard to say.. Sometimes it’s the smallest moments that mean the most. But recently, selling out The Fillmore in San Francisco.

Are there any pieces of equipment, hardware or software that you feel is absolutely essential to creating K.Flay’s unique, assertive sound?

I’ve got an old Silvertone 3/4 length guitar that I’ve written so many songs on. It was my dad’s guitar as a child, and it’s in pretty bad shape, but there’s something about it that inspires creativity for me.

If K.Flay could collaborate with anyone on the planet, who would it be, and why?

That’s a tough one! Karen O at the moment.

Three favourite albums of 2017?

Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Lorde – Melodrama
SZA – Control

What does the future hold for K.Flay?

More shows, more music and more adventures!

Order Every Where Is Some Where by K.Flay

For more information follow K.Flay on Facebook

[Image credit: Kenneth Cappello]