Life As A Dog: An Interview With K.Flay

When you think of hip-hop, you probably wouldn’t think of K.Flay. The Chicago-born, Bay Area-native produces music that can only be described at indie hip-hop — not what you’d expect from a girl with jet-black hair and Doc Martens. Last Saturday, K.Flay (née Kristine Flaherty) played a sold-out show at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge. If you’re the type who can’t decide what genre of music you like, you should’ve been there. Minneapolis trip-hoppers, Step Rockets and Cali-rockers, Night Riots opened the night. Check it out in the photos below.

All photos by Hanna Klein.

Before the show, The Quad sat down with K.Flay on her tour bus to talk about her debut album, life advice, and video games. 

The Quad: How’s Boston treating you so far?

K.Flay: It’s been good. I was a speaker at this Berklee symposium thing, so I did a demo of my production stuff and my recording process. That was really cool. I’d never been there before, it’s really beautiful. Then, honestly, I went into a hotel room and worked and ordered fries from room service because I just fuckin’ felt like I deserved it.

How has your career changed in the last year? 

The last year was quite tumultuous at the beginning, then has eased into something that has really been awesome. But within the course of this year, I left my label – I psychologically wandered for a moment and was thinking about my next move and what was gonna make sense. I ended up just starting to write demos; that was the beginning of this year, and then we decided to put out the record. I was on the Warped Tour and that was a totally different experience.

You crowd-funded your album, Life As A Dog – how did that work?

We wanted to have something to give people who were coming to the Warped Tour, so in April we decided to do it, and two weeks later we launched it via PledgeMusic. The process has been incredibly fast-paced but it’s been one of those all-hands-on-deck (even though there aren’t that many hands – six hands total or something) just working super, super hard. It was great. I think April, May and June prior to Warped were some of the hardest eight weeks of work I’ve done in quite some time, y’know, just waking up every morning, excited to do it, so it was really a labor of love. I haven’t done any kind of crowd-funding before so I was a bit hesitant and a bit scared, but it turned out to be a really positive experience!

What’s next after this tour?

I mean, I can’t say anything officially but we’re going to be continuing to be on the road and really promote this album as much as possible. I’m hoping it’ll have some legs and be a slow burn. The cool thing about not being on a major label is that it didn’t matter how many records we sold the first week (actually we had a great first week for an independent artist), but for us, it’s really about this long-term plan and historically, touring has been such an important part of it. Not just in terms of growing the fan base, but in terms of my own enjoyment of this lifestyle. I think it’s incredible to be able to do this. There was a time when no one would let me on stage, or only lunatics would, so it’s really nice to be able to do it!

What advice do you have for people coming out of college, graduating, and trying to find their place in life?

I think my piece of advice would be — if I were honestly telling my child – so this isn’t an interview piece of advice, but an honest piece of advice is: to really succeed in whatever realm. You have to work incredibly hard and you have to do it without caring to be recognized for it. I’ve noticed this phenomenon where people of all ages say something and just by virtue of saying it, it feels like they did it. Like, Aw dude, I worked so hard at the gym today. But maybe you just ran on the elliptical for ten minutes, which is fine! I don’t give a shit what you do!

But the more people I’ve encountered in all kinds of realms, but particularly artistic ones, there’s all this developmental legwork and all this weird shit that no one ever sees. Nobody will ever notice, you’ll probably never get credit for it, and no one’s gonna pat you on the back, but it’s those kinds of things that you have to do in order to create something sustainable. Especially if you want to run your own business and be entrepreneurial in whatever capacity – there’s just so much behind-the-scenes shoveling dirt. But that’s ultimately so rewarding. So that’s my advice! Put your head down and work really hard and don’t expect anyone to care for a while, and then hopefully they will!

What are three random facts about yourself?

  1. I think I ate Tibetan food today. It’s two blocks away. It was really good. Haven’t told anyone about that!
  2. I just got a bug bite. Any time I’m by a river or body of water, I get a bug bite. I was walking by the Charles River, so I saw the Regatta boats and got a bug bite.
  3. Everybody on the bus has been playing a game called Diablo III. They’re all convinced that there’s no purpose to the game, you can’t die, and no one understands the game. So I’m turning this into a call-to-action for anybody who’s reading this: If you know the purpose of Diablo III, hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, whatever. Let me know because I’m actually curious because I can’t believe there’s a game that has no purpose, unless it’s a metaphor or something.

For more info on K.Flay and her album, check out her website. If you know the purpose of Diablo III, be sure to reach out to K.Flay via Twitter.

Hanna Klein

Hanna Klein

Hanna Klein (COM'15) is a photographer for The Quad, studying advertising. She is an expatriate and while she doesn't know where "home" is, she likes to claim Chicago as her own. When she isn't suffering from wanderlust, Hanna likes to listen to the most obscure music she can find and admire hockey players.

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