PopCrush Presents: K.Flay
Every week at PopCrush, we’re putting the spotlight on one up-and-coming act you need to know about. Why? So you can get on board early before everyone else and their mother jumps on the bandwagon…and so you can be that one friend in the group who’s always like, “Um, actually, I prefer their earlier work.”
California-based artist K.Flay -- born Kristine Flaherty -- has proven difficult to define, sound-wise. Seamlessly blending elements of pop, indie rock, punk and hip-hop, K.Flay offers listeners a genre-spanning experience without ever sounding overwrought or forcedly ambitious.
The Illinois-born musician -- who made her debut back in 2010 with her self-titled EP and has since released several mix tapes as well as her first full-length LP Life As A Dog in 2014 -- notes she “fell into music very haphazardly” when she was 19.
K.Flay kept with it, she says, because writing and recording ultimately offered her some much-needed discord outside of what was, at the time, a heavily structured everyday life.
“I was in an argument with someone and was challenged to make a song, which was really my entry point to music,” she said. “From there, I started producing and playing house parties on campus, kind of as a release from the academic life. I liked that music was a window into a world with a lot of unpredictability and chaos; it was almost diametrically opposed to my very regimented day-to-day living."
Current single “Blood in the Cut” -- the first track off K.Flay's 2016 EP Crush Me -- is a clear departure from all that long-ago rigidity, offering listeners a mix of percolating guitars, steady percussion and brooding vocals that rise and fall over the course of the song's three-minute length, before ultimately converging in a booming finale near the track's end.
“The song is about the desire to inundate yourself with pain or angst or noise or joy, or really any experience, in order to have ownership of the feeling,” K.Flay said of the track. “Though it emerged from a dark place, the song quickly morphed into a celebratory thing, which was surprising and cool for me. It kind of felt like I was enacting the song as I wrote it.”
On "Hollywood Forever," -- a track named after the famed Los Angeles area cemetery -- K.Flay switches gears, hovering dangerously close to dream pop while mercifully maintaining her edge. Keeping in line with the confessional appeal of her lyrics, K.Flay sings softly above lush guitars and barely-there synths: "My father was a user / And I'm afraid I'm just the same."
But while the track's content may touch on her own personal struggles, K.Flay reflects positively on hearing the song after a late-night studio session in Nashville.
“I remember I was leaving the studio in Tennessee really late one night and playing ‘Hollywood Forever’ super-loud in the car,” says K.Flay “All of a sudden I was jolted back to the first time I ever pressed my music onto CD, and to putting all the boxes of CDs in my trunk and saying to myself, 'That’s cool — I made that.' It was this weird joyous feeling, and I’d completely forgotten all about it until that night in Nashville.”