If you like hip-hop, you need to get to know K.Flay. The intelligent rapper took a moment to sit with contributor and local artist, Sam Bramble, to talk about tour life and of course, music!
Have you played First Avenue before?
K: We have! We were here back in February for “The Best Love Is Free” show. Astronolis was there, Alan Kingdom, a ton of artists.
Alan Kingdom is definitely a great local artist. Now what is your real name, how did K.Flay come about?
K: Well my actual name is Kristine Flarity, and K.Flay was a nickname that people gave me. I’m not super creative when it comes to names, so I am glad I liked that name and stuck with it.
You put out Life As A Dog, recently. How has the reception been for that?
K: It’s been great! I was on a major label for a while and was able to get off of that and kind of reorient myself, form my own label, and kind of do things independent.
I noticed when I was looking into your discography that you only had a few albums, but I know you’ve been around for some time. Were you releasing side mixes or any other side projects?
K: Well technically this is my only album. Which is amazing though because it was a crowd funded project, so there is so much fan interaction and investment. There were 3 mix tapes though that were pretty much full length mix tapes, and then 3 EP’s. So there is a lot of work out there, for sure.
Tell me about Warped Tour. I’ve been going for years, but I haven’t seen too many hip hop acts.
K: We were definitely in the minority, but the stage we shared, the Beatport Stage, was a bunch of hip hop artists, electronica, djs and stuff like that. It was like a performance bootcamp being on that stage. You know, waking up at 7:30 in the morning, and you might be playing your set at 10:30 and only have 25 minutes to get through it. It was so amazing meeting all of those people too, was definitely a great all around experience mentally and physically.
How did you take on the sound that you have now? Starting out as a kind of Spoken Words Hip-Hop artist, to now kind of almost being a Hip-Hop artist with an Indy flair?
K: One thing for sure was learning or taking on how to sing. I didn’t grow up singing or know much about bands or music in that respect. So that has been a major development and grown my understanding of melody so to speak.
When do you think you took interest in that?
K: I really stumbled upon music, in College. It’s funny too because I figured that I would be attending school for a while, so I hadn’t really decided on a major or even the direction I was heading. I thought I had a lot of time to figure that out so all I got was my BA. Another part of that development though that we were talking about, is that I was really focussed on being clever and sort of that wordplay spectrum of writing, but now I’ve gone more towards being confessional and opening up to people without worry or fear.
And what about now, do you think you’ve got your path figured out? Are you settled into this role or are you still going with the flow?
K: I think I’ve learned that music and it’s creative endeavors at it’s base, are really important to me and I’ve learned that it is something I don’t want to lose as I move forward in life. I am not sure how those will manifest though, I’m still just rolling around and loving the adventure.
What would you say the overall message of this record is?
K: I think the message is the balance between lightness and darkness. The record at it’s core deals with a lot of regret, cynicism, or disappointment, and tempering that with hope and light.
It definitely shows in the record. What other artists do you get inspired by or look up to?
K: I’m a huge Metric fan, I love Emily Haines and I’ve always loved what she does lyrically. More recently, I’ve become a huge Tame Impala fan. I could never make a record like they have in my life and the reason I like their record so much is because it’s actually a Pop record, but there is so much going within it that just make it amazing. It’s a melodically, a really accessible record.
Nick Suhr seems like such a big part of the music, especially in the live shows and it made me wonder, do you play drums yourself?
K: Horribly haha. I can program durms, and we worked on a lot of the record with controllers and machine. I can get through a kit, but very poorly haha.
Great, an appreciation of the drums is always good, too! What are some of your favorite cities to end up on tour?
K: Minneapolis actually is great because people come to live shows and have a pretty deep appreciation for music. Musically I am from San Franciso, so home town shows are always really fun. Austin, Chicago, I’ve been living in New York the passed couple years so that’s always really fun. Salt Lake City, Missoula, there are a lot of spots that are not the biggest cities but still just have such an amazing vibe and sound to them.
Well thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure!
K: No problem, and thank you!
You can get K.Flays new album here, and be sure to check out the rest of the photos of the show below!
Photos and interview: Sam Bramble