In 2003, American artist K.FLAY (a.k.a. Kristine Flaherty) decided to turn her hand to music after finding that mainstream rap was simplistic, formulaic and misogynistic. Now, 14 years later, she has produced two successful studio albums and has affirmed herself as one of the strong female voices within popular culture. With her upcoming appearances at Groovin The Moo festivals and various venues across Australia, audiences will get a chance to experience the energy and introspection of her work firsthand.
K.Flay’s latest album Every Where is Some Where has been a work in progress for the past year. She believes it encompasses the various moods and spaces she’s been in throughout that time and is pleased with the end result, commenting, “I’m proud of it and I’m happy for it to be out in the world.”
Musing about the title of the album, K.Flay seems her usual reflective self, pondering on how we as humans create meaning and every setting we inhabit is of some importance to someone. “Being on tour and being on the road does really drive home the sense of singularity of places but also the arbitrariness,” she explains. “You might be at a restaurant that for you is just another drop in the bucket, but for somebody else is the place where their life changed.”
Listening to her music and talking with her, it’s obvious K.Flay strives to embrace all life events and emotions and build from them. When asked if the title of her new album reflects this sort of acceptance she agrees, adding, “I think part is acceptance and part is transcendence; you can accept those things as they are but you can also use them as a platform for other kinds of meaning or other kinds of growth. That’s been the goal of my adult life, to find a way to do that.”
When referring to negative situations or emotions as “dark places”, she explains, “they’re still places and we have the power to author the narrative surrounding them … I find that in the process of songwriting, that’s at the core of it. For me, what’s really guiding this work is trying to take the events, some of which I have control over, some of which I don’t, and trying to make some meaning out of them.”
The somewhat upbeat track ‘High Enough’ was recently released as a single ahead of the new album. K.Flay sees this song as more positive overall than her last single, ‘Blood in the Cut’, which explored the raw emotions of a break-up and which she describes as “fully dark”. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, ‘High Enough’ came to her almost supernaturally. She simply describes it as an idea that she really wanted to express. “I’ve written a lot of songs that celebrate being fucked up or high; I think often I have the sensation that I don’t really want to be any of those things, that because of a person or an experience or art I feel fulfilled in that way.”
Though Every Where is Some Where follows along many of the same confessional themes as K.Flay’s past work, fans may notice a slight change as she begins to explore more political issues with tracks like ‘The President Has a Sex Tape’. This powerful piece includes such great lyrics as “the President has a sex tape, your daughters aren’t safe at night” and “I got a feelin’ that my body is owned, a feelin’ that my body ain’t mine’. Lyrics to send shivers down any spine, given the current political climate.
K.Flay confirms that such tracks came about in light of the horrible chaos that has descended on the United States. “I think that was an undeniable thing that was occurring and was definitely seeping into my experience and my brain,” she explains.
Every Where is Some Where was produced by K.Flay’s friend and fellow musician Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) with his production company Interscope Records. This collaborative production gave K.Flay autonomy over her work while also providing her with the resources she needed to develop the sound and distribution.
“Dan was very forthcoming with me about his goals, which were essentially to help give me a platform and to give advice and certainly creative feedback if I wanted it,” she says, “and also just giving me a safe space to write shit.”
Her upcoming Australian shows are set to be a treat for fans with a healthy mix of new music and her older well-known pieces. As always she’ll strive to put the same amount of energy and meaning into every song she performs.
“We play live as a three-piece and it’s a really energetic, passionate show. When I’m up there I’m really trying to relive the experience of every song. That can mean wild boundless energy, that can mean sad introspection, but I feel like, emotionally, I try to revisit those places and tap into that energy.”
K.Flay joins the line-up at Groovin The Moo at the University of Canberra on Sunday May 7. Tickets are now sold-out. For all sideshows, visit kflay.com.