Photo Courtesy of: Shots Fired (Instagram)
Graduating from Stanford with a double major in psychology and sociology, Kristine Flaherty went from thinking hip-hop was too misogynistic and simple, to rocking the stage with intense indie-rock, electronic infused hip-hop. Starting as a hip-hop artist on the West Coast, K.Flay has made a pretty amazing name for herself. Whether being featured on “Coastin’” by Zion I or opening for huge acts such as Passion Pit or Snoop Dogg she is definitely an artist to look out for. Also, she will be in Fort Collins on July 28th opening for the sold out AWOLNATION show at the Aggie. We got to sit down with her before her show at the Larimer Lounge and talk to her about her newest album and music.
Life As A Dog came out over a year ago. Have you been focusing on mainly playing songs from that album live over your older music?
Yeah, definitely. I think that it’s hard because there is a lot of material out there. So I want to pay homage to those things too, but this is the latest release and kind of the first actual album. So yeah, we definitely focus more heavily on this record.
The new album is more indie rock influenced than previous work and less of a hip-hop based album. What made you decide to change this album up more than your past work that you have released?
I don’t think that it was a conscious thing. I was just making stuff over the last couple years, as I’ve learned to sing a little bit more properly. It’s just as interesting to me as rapping was when I first started because it was really new and more like an experiment. It feels like that’s the vibe or the head space I’ve been in for a little bit. And I’m just very curious to experiment with melody in that sort of way. I’ve been listening to a lot more indie rock than hip-hop lately. So I think it’s probably just in the ether.
So for Life As A Dog you got off of your label and then released the album. How did being on that label affect your career and then what happened once you were off it?
I think being able to see the inner workings of the major label system, not that I know everything about it from my experience, but it was definitely illuminating. Just in terms of… You know when you’re sort of an unconventional artist how you fit in or don’t fit in to that system. And I think, definitely, it was instructive to the kind of artist I want to be and the business I want to run. Which is to say that this is a very, at its core, DIY loyal kind of thing. And, you know, I’ve been playing with Nic (Drums) live for four years now and have the same manager and I think we have a very strong foundation for the project. So I think that it just kind of helped me to focus on what I really did want to do and how to do it. In certain ways it was frustrating because I felt a little bit thwarted, like there was a lot of momentum in a certain direction and I had to pause for two years for a little bit but other than that it was good.
So they sort of constricted your free will?
Well they just didn’t want me to put out a full length record because they didn’t think there was a single or something radio worthy. And I think when you sign to a major label you should… I mean I should have known that that’s kind of the name of the game. Probably just a bad decision in the first place but I didn’t need money so it was alright.
How did going to college, specifically Stanford for you, direct you to start music?
I mean, I started making music when I was at college. So in that sense it was very important. And I didn’t realize that I could actually do for a living until I was done and out of school. And it was really just a culmination of things. Just different people who were supporting me or giving me opportunities to play or record. And at a certain point I actually started to make money. So I was like, “Well maybe I could do this.” You know? At least semi-feasibly. So I don’t know if there was a certain point but it was just all of a sudden that I was doing it. I don’t know. I haven’t really been all that conscious of that in a way.
You originally started out without a drummer but since he’s been with you, does he help you with your creative process of your new music?
No. So Nic… We obviously play live together, but the writing stuff is really just kind of me in a room or whatever. But I do think having live drums in the show, it definitely influences the show or programming things or thinking about the songs or mixing things and all that sort of vibe. And I think that, you know, that’s partially why there’s more of a rock or indie-rock element is because the live show is much more that. It’s not like a rap show. Or a normal rap show.
And you also just added another live member?
Yeah! So Josh is playing guitar and bass. And it’s been great! Yeah, Josh is a buddy of ours from San Francisco and super talented. And I think, in terms of the live experience, it’s good for audience members and it gives us an additional dynamic element that can be altered that isn’t tied to an electronic interface, which is really nice. It’s nice to just be able to make noise without a bunch of shit to facilitate it.
Life As A Dog has led to a bunch of remixes to the songs. Do you think that when that happens it broadens your spectrum of music and your fan base?
I think it does. I think it certainly broadens casual fans. You know, people who are going to listen to you on Spotify when they’re making dinner. (Laughs) Which is totally viable. But yeah, I think some of these people at these shows, historically kind of, come up to you and say, “Yeah, I heard a remix and that’s how I found out about your music.” And that’s sort of their entry point. But yeah, I think for people who are more electronically inclined it’s definitely a super valuable thing. But I think that people are just looking for remixes. People are wanting to play a bunch of remixes. And we’re in this interesting remix culture at the moment. So I think there are only a certain percentage of those folks who are going to investigate the original songs or whatever. But the people who do are awesome.
You did a Youtube series where you reviewed books. What is the darkest book you have read?
Oh yeah! Probably the The Plague By Albert Camus. He’s like a French existentialist author who just wrote super dark shit. But The Plague is about… A plague. People are just dying and it’s very bleak. So I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re already depressed. But if you’re in a good mood check it out.
Is it hard to be in the hip-hop world as a female artist?
Yeah, I mean not in a bad way, but that fact that the question gets asked. It’s kind of like, it’s shitty being a woman in general sometimes, regardless. I think it has two sides like people are interested in it because there’s sort of a novelty to it. But then some people discount you in a certain way or think you can’t do much or you’re going to suck. So it’s probably a mix of those two things. But from the community itself, among artists and musicians, it’s super, super cool. Like I think I’ve never encountered anything that sort of preempted my gender being an issue. But I think it’s tough in all regards. But it’s good to be a girl. But I think, yeah, it’s rough no matter what. Or it can be, like there’s a potential for that.
Who has been your favorite artist to work with?
Well okay, this is a new thing. So I’m going to promote something. This dude Golden Features that I just did a track with. He’s Australian and electronic, kind of, down-tempo and really cool artist. I just did a track with him called “Telescope” and we did it across the ocean. Which typically I know people that I work with but it was kind of cool to not know somebody and work with them.
What’s the most exciting act you’ve opened for or have opened for you?
Actually you know what’s funny is that we were reminiscing because we had played the Larimer Lounge before with this group called Cherub and they were out touring with us. And they are awesome and crazy. They’re like some of the wildest people I’ve ever met in my life. And I mean that in the greatest way. They’re super sweet and really kind. But they know how to do it up. I think their tour manager has tattoos of each of their faces on either of his ass cheeks. That’s like kind of the vibe, you know what I mean? (Laughs)
What’s your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?
Oh my god. Well I’m going to start his off by saying we did Warped Tour last summer and one of the promo things that they did for the artists was like, you can see a free screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. That was honest to god, it might have been one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It had no plot. I couldn’t follow the plot at all. It was super shitty. But I think the one that I like is Donatello. He’s like the sage and closest to Splinter. I don’t fuck with Michelangelo. (Laughs) Too many jokes. Leonardo’s kind of like the Justin Timberlake of the group.
Have you been working on any new material of your own?
Yes! Like every time we’ve had a break in touring for a week or two weeks, I’ve been writing. So we just finished with Third Eye Blind and now we’re doing some headline stuff in between opening for AWOLNATION. But I’ll be in writing, hopefully recording and have something out very soon.
What advice do you have to give to aspiring artists?
I think my advice it to just play as many live shows as possible. You learn a lot about who you are. It’s also like most of the people I’ve ever met, I met through live music. And most of the experiences I had where I got opening gigs or whatever, how I got signed, every good thing that has happened was basically at a live show. And I’ve had some really shitty live shows. So it’s important to have shitty ones. I’m just happy if anyone shows up pretty much. (Laughs) I really am.
Simply put, the show was amazing. Reason The Citizen caught the attention of every single audience member and opened up the sold out show with almost too much energy leaving the audience sweating before the room was even packed tight. Lily Fangz came out next to take the venue through a plethora of moods. Going from deep soul-punching melodies to raw freestyling talent her live performance was impressive, to say the least, because of her talented voice and flow. When K.Flay finally hit the stage the crowd went nuts. Opening up with one of her older tracks, “Sunburn” which only a handful of the audience knew to sing along to, she then transitioned to almost only tracks off of her new album. I must say this, the addition of a live guitar and bass, along with her drummer, was spectacular. I wished for longer hair and a less packed crowd just so I could head bang as hard as she was without knocking anyone out. While she did focus on more of the new stuff she visited “The Cops” and “No” off of her older work. I was hoping to see some of her earlier hip-hop inspired songs such as “10th Ave” or “Rawks” but nonetheless the show was still ridiculously well put together and kept everyone wanting more. If you want to catch K.Flay soon, she will be opening for AWOLNATION at the Aggie Theatre on July 28th.