Alter The Press!


Interview: K.Flay

Currently overseas making her UK debut with MC Lars, Alter The Press spoke to the hip-hop/indie-rock artist, K.Flay before her first show in London.

The twenty-four Stanford graduate spoke to ATP about her background in music, her remix of Paramore's 'Ignorance', being overseas for the first time, Justin Bieber and more.

Alter The Press: How did you start getting into music?
K.Flay: I started getting into music, pretty much, my starting year of college; it sort of started as a fun whimsical thing, a guy in my dorm made beats, so I started rapping over that which ended up being a lot of fun. People liked it, so I started that summer, bought a load of audio equipment and taught myself the basics of production and recording. It sort of took off from there.

ATP: Who were your influences that got you into music?
K.Flay: I definitely grew up listening to a lot of '60's-'70's classic rock, blues, funk; that kind of stuff that my parents were into. Earlier on, it was that kind of aesthetic, but then as I got older, it was definitely more indie-rock, hip-hop, especially when I started college. When I started doing hip-hop stuff, that's what further cultivated my interest in other hip-hop acts.

ATP: How did you come up with your stage name, 'K.Flay'?
K.Flay: People called me that because my name is Kristine Flaherty. People knew me as K.Flay in my freshman year, in the college dorms, and it had internal rhymes.

ATP: How did you hook up with MC Lars?
K.Flay: Lars and I went to college together, he's a couple of years older than me but he was already kind of pretty deep into music, he had been doing it for a bit. My RA in freshman year went to Oxford University with him through that, he knew I was doing music so he kind of linked the two of us up. We met when I was a sophomore and he was a senior, just when he had dropped 'The Laptop EP', and grinding doing that on tour. Our friendship grew from there. At this point, besides being musical collaborators, we are just good friends; so, whenever we can do stuff together, it's just fun to hang out and we'll take that opportunity whenever we can.

ATP: You've already done your first release, the 'MASHed Potatoes' mixtape. Do you have plans for a full-length release?
K.Flay: Definitely, I'm just in the process of that now. I want it to accurately reflect where I'm at because the mixtape is more hip-hop heavy, and I definitely have more material that is more singer/songwriter stuff, so I want to make sure the full-length reflects that balance. I'm in the process of recording it, and hoping to have everything recorded by June, when I'm back in town. I'll grind hard with that and hopefully get it out this fall, that's my hope. I’ve got a lot of demos recorded, which I need to make final versions of, but it's shaping up. I think this past month has been really good for locking into a sound for the album.

ATP: Will you self-release it?
K.Flay: I don't know. I'm going to record it, and take it from there and then see if I want to put it out myself, through a label, or on my own. Obviously, I want to do what's best to get my music out to as many people as possible so, it’s whatever road that is.

ATP: On the mixtape, you did a remix of Paramore's 'Ignorance'. What made you want to choose that song in particular?
K.Flay: It's funny because I was driving home, I used to teach SAT classes to high school kids, and I was driving from work, super tired, sad, exhausted, wanted to eat dinner; I was on my way back to my apartment, and heard that song on the radio, on an alternative rock station, and thought, 'Oh this is a pretty rad song!' This was just when I was wrapping up the mixtape, had been recording it for the last couple of weeks, and just finished up. I really liked that song, so when I got home that night, I did it. Wrote it, recorded it and had it done by the next day. It was a good song to sample because it has some cool parts in it; I messed with the pitch on a bunch of the samples, and kind of made some notes on some parts that didn't exist before.

ATP: Have the band heard the remix, do they even know about it?
K.Flay: I'm going to assume no, since I'm a random person. I don't think so.

ATP: You covered Justin Bieber's 'One Time' with MC Lars. Do you have plans for anymore covers?
K.Flay: The whole reason I found out about Justin Bieber was because the day we recorded that song, Lars was supposed to have his video be iTunes video of the week. We went to check, to see if it had been updated, and when we did, it was this kid singing this R'n'B song. It was cute. After that, he just blew up. I do have plans to do some more covers, there's a few I've thought about doing, a few that I'm toying with for the album. I'm a huge Exile in Guyville fan (US indie rock, singer/songwriter), especially the first album, and there are a couple of songs on there which I've messed around with, but we'll see.

ATP: You are playing your first shows overseas. How did you feel about playing to a new audience?
K.Flay: What I heard from Lars, in the past, was that the UK is a very welcoming place and people are into different kinds of music. They like things which are different, which have a little quirk to them. I was expecting it to be fun, we played a show last night in Bristol and that was a ton of fun. I'm so happy to be out here, getting the music out in a different place. Every time I do a show, I learn something new, and change the set a bit, so it's always good to play in different kinds of places.

ATP: When you head back to the US, you have shows booked already with Snoop Dogg and 3OH!3. How did this come together?
K.Flay: I have a booking agent who books college shows for me. What happens is, most of these colleges, especially in April and May, have big spring shows or festivals at the end of the semester and they book big headliners. Those are the only ones I've announced so far, but I have eight more shows in addition to that, with big headlining acts, definitely more mainstream hip-hop. So, these colleges book these big people, and then want these openers who don't cost as much but will fit the vibe; so my agent got me tons of these shows in April. When I get back, I'll be traveling on the east coast with my controllers and my guitar, playing these shows.

ATP: Do you have plans to come back yet?
K.Flay: I'd love to come back in the fall, I've spoken to Lars about it vaguely, but I think it'll be great. It's definitely a place I'd like to invest some time in, and develop a fan base and get acquainted with it. There is definitely a lot of cool stuff happening with hip-hop, especially in the UK, and I think it'll be cool to absorb some of that.

K.Flay's 'MASHed Potatoes' mixtape is available to download for free HERE.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!