Kristine Flaherty may be the coolest person I have ever met. You may know the Stanford alum as K.Flay–the Bay Area-based rapper/songwriter that captured an underground scene and changed the way we view females in hip-hop. Like much of the world though, you may not know her at all. With her latest release, Life As A Dog, K.Flay pushes her own boundaries musically and lyrically, all while fighting to get released from RCA Records. Now with no major label distribution, she has funded her first full-length album with the help of her ever-growing and loyal fan base. Life As A Dog has been out for a while–but the buzz surrounding K.Flay is just getting started.
Prior to the release of her first album, I caught up with K.Flay during her stint on the Vans Warped Tour. I’ve spent many a summer sweating through my favorite band tee at Warped, but few acts are as explosive as K.Flay. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her live show, imagine a heavy metal front man, banging his head and whipping his long dark hair back and forth. Now imagine that front man is a wide-eyed, dark-haired girl in black skinny jeans and combat boots, stomping around with grace and command.
“Everyone I know / Everyone I know is sad / Everyone I know has got plans / But they all just play the keys in shitty bands”
Life As A Dog opens up with a delicate, spacey indie rock feel. The LP feels more mature than her previous releases without losing any of the punches K.Flay is known for pulling. “Sucking on a bottle of Jim Beam / Wishing it was you,” she declares on the fourth track. Immediately, we are reminded what makes K.Flay so cool: her ability to thread knowledge and word play throughout electro pop synths, while drinking a ton of whiskey and reminding us she is, too, just a normal girl.
The album continues with several catchy tracks. “Bad Things” and “Turn It Around” show the artist critiquing her behaviors and decisions–the 20-something angsty anthems of a millennial generation stuck in boring suburbia. “My money goes to the darkest places / I’ve got so much to love sometimes I fucking hate it,” she half sings-half raps in a raspy tone.
Where the album really shines is with “Time For You”. In the same vein as “The Cops”, a previous track that quickly became one of K.Flay’s most popular songs, “Time For You” is a story-tell full of grit and wit for an individual growing a backbone and putting a stop to someone’s shit.
“I can see how it could be a sequel to ‘The Cops’,” she told me during our sit down in Mountain View, California. “It stems from a similar emotional place. I tried to take more of a storytelling approach on that song, but it was sort of based on my own sordid affairs,” she laughed.
“I’ve got time for you but you / You make me want to die without trying to,” she sings out over a slowed-down, synthetic chorus. Thematically, we can see the back and forth struggle. Flay takes a stand throughout each verse, “Please stop saying that you’re changing / Get the fuck out of my bed / Cause I need someone else who every night remembers I exist.”
K.Flay has represented a different type of female in the music industry, and perhaps that is why her fan base has gone from Palo Alto natives sharing her mix tapes in dorm rooms, to celebrities like Lena Dunham, who featured a K.Flay track in the opening episode of HBO’s hit series Girls, season two. K.Flay shows us that it is cool to get a higher education, and it is even cooler to explore yourself and push your own boundaries. She is the captain of her own ship. In the design of her work, merchandise, videography, you name it: K.Flay is behind all of her product.
Life As A Dog is seeing radio play and the singer is currently touring the UK with no signs of slowing down. She comes back for a stint of shows with pop-rockers Third Eye Blind, and joins AWOLNATION on a national tour. Whether you’re diving into her YouTube channel and hearing about books she recommends, listening to her Soundcloud account where she shares her favorite playlists, or binging on every EP, mixtape and demo she has ever released (a favorite hobby of mine)–K.Flay is bound to excite you about the future, and make you feel a little better about the mistakes and blacked-out weekends from the past.