The rising hip hop artist is dropping Down Under for Splendour in the Grass.
Kristine Flaherty, aka K.Flay, has done her time since creating her ‘low budget parody’ rap track, ‘Blingity Blang Blang’, whilst a freshman at Stanford College, fueled by the self-guided notion that rap was misogynistic, formulaic and predictable, and much like most people in their teens, that she could do it better. To be fair she made a career from it.
“I think pigeonholing hip hop in any way is a pretty myopic thing to do. There are so many different voices and perspectives in that world, as there are with any genre of music,” she says, recollecting her earlier self.
“[As a teen] I would have been very surprised to learn I was doing this for my job. I think, to say that being a musician or performer was anywhere in the vision I had for my life, would be an understatement.”
Flaherty, now closer to two decades in the industry than one, has made a name for herself with a dynamic alt hip hop sound, earnest lyricism and swagger you can’t describe. All while still maintaining the open and relatable personality that drove her early success.
“I think being intensely honest has been the recipe for success for me. Not in the sense of making money or anything like that, but in terms of making music that feels correct, the right thing to do, and in terms of making music that other people seem to relate to and gain something from. Most of my favourite music is also intensely honest and that’s the job of any art person,” she takes time to position her next sentence.
“My brother is a lawyer, for instance, he can’t say anything he wants at his job – he might get fired. I, on the other hand, can say anything I want and that’s actually kind of my job. Not everyone gets to express themselves so intensely. So it’s kind of my purview, my prerogative and my imperative to do that.”
In the process of releasing singles for her upcoming album. On Solutions, K.Flay broadcasts her ability to play with lyricism, structure and sonic landscape.
“When you’re first starting out, you take risks because you don’t know what you’re doing. But once you start to understand elements of the process of anything, you get to this place where you can go, ‘I can do anything here’ and be really creative. That to me is the kind of exciting part.”
K.Flay will bring her creativity to the Australian stage this month as part of the Splendour in the Grass entourage. This includes a set at the festival, where she’ll be performing alongside the likes of Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper and Tame Impala. At the time of the interview, Flaherty happens to be doing her laundry to ensure she has the right socks for her show in Brooklyn the next night. She explains the journey of her live set.
“The show has gone through an evolution and different interactions. The biggest changes are my confidence and my ability as a frontperson. It takes time to feel comfortable up front and centre, leading the show. You’re up higher than everyone, you’re louder than everyone and you’re kind of guiding people through this experience.” she dictates. “[It’s] something I never thought about when I was starting out. How do I create an experience, setlist and a flow that feels good?”
With K.Flay’s last tour in Melbourne, came Crush Me Book, an open submission scrapbook for audience members’ deepest secrets. This went on to be published and sold with proceeds going to various charities.
“When you’re inside of yourself, which is everyone all the time, you’re in touch with the multitudes of your experience. You’re in touch with what’s making “me” sad and happy. The Crush Me Book was just a representation of that and a reminder that we’re all going through so many things at the same time and it’s of grave importance to remain as open and compassionate as you can be.”
You can catch K.Flay at Howler on Thursday July 18th. Grab your tickets via Chugg Entertainment. She’ll also take to Splendour in the Grass which goes down from Friday July 19 to Sunday July 21.