Rapper/singer/producer/adult K.Flay has been garnering a modicum of buzz in Bay Area since graduating from Stanford, but she first really caught our ear with the release of last year’s I Stopped Caring in ’96. The project was an eclectic mix of electro-rap bangers about growing up and individuality, with a small dose of existential despair mixed in. If yr an adult were an FM-radio station in an alternate universe, this banger would have been on HEAVY rotation all last summer (also, our yearly summer jam concert festival would be called “The Big Chill”). Flay has stayed busy, releasing a new EP a few months ago, dropping remix after remix and touring religiously. Luckily, she was able to find a hot minute to answer some of our questions about growing up and making music.
yr an adult: A lot of the subject matter of a lot of your songs seems to be about growing up, (which is obviously what made you of interest to a site about facing adulthood) – why do you think your own emerging adulthood is a theme your interested in?
K.Flay: Mainly because I feel like we’re living in a time in which it’s easy not to grow up. People are incredibly preoccupied with preserving youth, both in a physical sense & a conceptual one. iI’s kind of insane when you think about it.
I personally think that a big reason why your music is connecting with more and more people is because it does feel representative of millennial twentysomethings – do you think about whether songs are going to resonate with people your age when you’re writing/producing them, or is it just trying to make songs that you personally like?
I don’t consciously think about whether people are going to relate to the music, but I do make an effort to represent my own perspective as best I can. And I think listeners – myself included – connect to songs through the details, the little turns of phrase that seem to capture something novel. So i try to be detail-oriented in my writing, which somehow means I’m always talking about breakfast…
How are you feeling about your decision to pursue music as a career? From some of your songs, it seems like your at least a little bit ambivalent about it – wondering what it was like to make the decision, and how you feel about it now?
I think for most people, there’s always a degree of ambivalence, of how life might be better or easier or wilder. And I feel that too. But I’m incredibly happy to be making music and weirdly can’t envision another course for my life right now.
Do you ever wonder if there are other things you might be doing right now? Are there any other sorts of jobs that interest you, either for now or in the future?
It’s strange, but I don’t think much about what other jobs I’d want to have. Doing that feels like some kind of jinx and I was raised to believe fervently in jinxes.
I’m curious if you have any models in hip-hop (or just pop music) who built careers in this new, dysfunctional, non-record-sale-based industry? Who do you look at as you’re strategizing about how to grow your audience/make your livelihood?
For me, atmosphere is a really good touchstone for how to make a living in a DIY capacity and build a project through touring – not just singles or album sales or whatever. The live show is like the key to K.Flay stuff at this point, so iIm always looking at folks who’ve grown profitable touring careers and made the live experience a real priority.
How do you even think about stuff like that, growing the K.Flay brand/business and whether songs/projects your working on fit with the artistic body of work you’ve been building? Or are you just focused on the music and let the brand follow that?
Kind of the latter. The crazy thing about being a solo artist is that there’s always a degree of continuity in the tracks, because you’re always there singing, rapping and shouting. And for me, I’m still figuring out my voice as a lyricist and a producer. So i’m probably constantly contradicting versions of myself.
Outside of music, are there any role models who stand out for you?
I am a crazy fan of Margaret Atwood. She’s an incredibly prolific author and just a general badass. She’s one of those people who just creates – regardless of the medium or the concept.
What have you got coming up for the rest of 2012?
Right now I’m recording tracks for my full-length, which is really exciting and kind of freaky. And in the meantime I’m keeping busy touring in support of my latest project, ‘Eyes Shut’ (ed: downloadable here). But there will be more new music out this year…
Relevant K.Flay info/downloads are available on her website. Obviously.
Henry Goldman is founder of yr an adult. He still cares. Desperately.