There aren’t many musicians around who are so clearly steeped in authenticity as K.Flay, who plays Bo’s on March 18th.
Already hitting number one at Canadian alt-radio with her mesmerizing track Blood In The Cut – she is more than just one to watch these days melding elements of both indie alternative rock with heavy hip-hop influence.
Now, she’s on a cross Canada tour with Mother Mother and she’s gearing up for the release of her second full-length album — entitled Every Where Is Some Where — which will be hitting the shelves on April 7th.
The new disc was born of course out of experience – it’s not like she hemmed herself in for several months to write exclusively. K.Flay’s music stems from the highs and lows of everyday life on the road and the quieter times when she’s managing the routines of everyday life at home.
“That was really the genesis of the title,” she explains during a recent chat. “I really feel that – where ever you are in the world, you are creating meaning, whether that is beautiful or devastating.
“That was what was running through my mind during the creation of this.” She’s also been listening to lots of music from earlier decades, including classic cuts from Black Sabbath.
“A lot of this record reflects that kind of gritty, rock spirit.”
K.Flay’s (otherwise known as Kristine Flaherty) journey into music is a fascinating story in and of itself.
“My father taught me to play very passable guitar,” she said of her beginnings in finding her musical path. That was when she was about 10. “That was pretty much it,” although she also played the trumpet in Grade 5 as well. But overly, music was exactly front and centre during her formative years.
“I definitely liked music, but now, knowing so many other bands and artists, many say their identity was deeply connected to music from the time they were teenagers,” she added. “For me, that was just not the case.
“I just didn’t find it until later on. I didn’t really need it until later.”
A younger K.Flay, who hails from near Chicago, ultimately studied away at Stanford University, California, on her way to completing two degrees in psychology and sociology. “I was super academic – I mean that also in the sense that I like school – I like the institutions of education, and I like being embedded in that,” she said.
“That was really my head space and my focus – and then I kind of stumbled into making music really just for fun. I started playing house parties and frat parties on campus – just whatever,” adding that it provided something of a break from the rigours of academic life.
Indeed. It was there that she began creating her own thing. But it wasn’t until after her studies were wrapped up that she released her first self-titled EP in 2010.
Incredibly, it wasn’t until around that time that she began to really discover her voice, too. “I didn’t have a practical sense of what that meant until five or six years ago.” But as the confidence grew, “It really did change everything because I realized there was so much potential for vocally what I wanted to do,” she said.
“It also started to become apparent to me that music was becoming part of my emotional life. I think that was kind of the big thing. On the one side of it, it happened to me as a listener.”
It was increasingly connecting with her as time passed. “And on the flip side, I started making music that felt deeply connected to my experience.”
The following year she released what she claimed to be the ‘turning point’ in her career, I Stopped Caring In ’96. It proved a defining experience that kind of brought into focus her growing skills as an artist, a gifted musician, a producer and a performer. “Everything about it felt like I had this vision for myself and that vision was very recent for myself.
“That was when I decided I was doing music. That it was going to be my life, at least for a while.”
It wasn’t long before fans, the industry at large and some pretty big names in the biz started to take notice as well.
Over the next year, K.Flay’s genre-defying style enabled her to tour with artists as diverse as Snoop Dog, Passion Pit and Icona Pop.
As her popularity continued to grow, she released an incredible record Life As A Dog which perked everyone’s ears.
Needless to say, there was a bit of surprise as the direction her life took. After all, she was a dedicated student who didn’t really tap into her musical strengths until later on. But on the other hand, folks weren’t totally surprised after all. A rugged, strong and independent spirit has always been part of who she really is.
“Since I was a very little kid I have kind of marched to the beat of my own drum – and I always have. I’ve always been very creative in my spirit or in my way of being.”
And in the end, dreams certainly do come true.
“I’ve sort of been self-directed through my life,” she adds, reflectively. “I think I’ve always been drawn to finding my own track in this world.”