With hip-hop hitting a dull period, experimentation is full speed ahead. Many rappers, DJs and producers are testing new sounds and styles to push through the boredom of rapping a few lines and singing an R&B hook. Kristine Flaherty or K. Flay is at the head of the pack.
By mashing the high Bay Area energy with her introspective look on life, it's like combining Fiona Apple and Missy Elliott in a University lab and releasing the results on stage and record. She plays multiple instruments, produces, spins, sings and raps, and kind of reminds me of our own little purple man.
The suburban Chicago native transplanted to the West Coast after high school. There, she sprouted up an eclectic and fun sound from a neighbor's dorm room at Stanford. After a few local shows and a couple EP drops, her sound has caught on with several influential people, including projects with Kid Cudi and Snoop Dogg.
With her laptop and drum kit in tow, K. Flay is doing some spot dates in celebration of Valentines Day and her new Eyes Shut EP release. Gimme Noise caught up with the electro hip-hop princess before she hits Minneapolis on Saturday.
What were some early inspirations growing up, and what is your favorite medium to work with?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of classic rock and blues -- basically, whatever albums my parents had lying around the house. Once I got to college and really started developing my own musical taste, I found myself drawn to two kinds of styles: left-of-center hip-hop, a la Outkast and Dizzee Rascal, and semi-tortured female vocalists like Liz Phair and Emily Haines. Although rapping and singing is definitely the foundation of what I do, I'm making a concerted effort to focus on my production skills -- not only with regard to my own material, but for remix projects as well.
What was the moment you realized you were going to make a run at the music biz and put your Stanford University education back in your pocket?
I'm not sure there was a concrete moment, but it was sometime in the spring of 2010. I had just started making enough money playing live shows to support myself and was at a point where I could legitimately quit my day job and focus on music full-time. Once that happened, I kinda decided to throw the education stuff in the trunk for a minute.
You seem to mix a introspective lyrical style, which is typical for Midwestern artists, with the big party sound of the Bay Area and it seems to work well. Was that something that happened natural because of your move out west or something you tried to mix in the lab?
It's a style that developed really naturally. When I started making music, I was more focused on being clever than anything else. Over time, though, I realized that the kind of music I liked to make was emotional, personal. And I think that very honest lyrical content is particularly interesting when you've got electronic instrumentation accompanying it. Plus, I like headbanging.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, you have to have a favorite John Hughes movie right? (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's, etc.)
I've gotta go with Home Alone, solely based on absurdity of premise. And also because the church in that movie is a couple blocks from where I grew up.
Valentines Day is around the corner, and part a reason for this tour (Eyes Shut Valentines Tour) is you out there looking for your Wes Welker?
How can a guy win over your heart Saturday night? Chocolates?
Flowers? Rare vinyl?
I'm actually really happy being single right now, but main qualifications are: you have to have a job, not be an idiot, and buy me fruit snacks. And being a professional athlete doesn't hurt.
You are known to have a very entertaining live show, what should we expect Saturday?
You should expect live raps, live drums, & live animals.
You can download the new EP here and you can see K. Flay this Saturday at the Fine Line Music Cafe - The Best Love Is Free 3: w/ Culture Cry Wolf, Toki Wright, Crunchy Kids, more. 8PM | 18+ | $10 adv / $12 door