The path to self-discovery is often littered with obstacles – a journey one must make on his or her own terms. This was no different for K.Flay, who found her sound only after climbing over more than a handful of roadblocks. The indie hip-hop musician, born Kristine Flaherty, had released two mix tapes and three EPs, but was trapped on the roster of a major label that wouldn’t commit to an album. So at the end of 2013, Flay unhooked herself from the label and began writing songs for what would become the most cohesive, truest representation of herself – her debut album, Life As A Dog.
Prior to leaving the label, K.Flay had been living in San Francisco and then Brooklyn. In January, she left her apartment and holed up in a rehearsal space in downtown Los Angeles, isolating herself to see what sort of songs emerged. What had previously been a discouraging spiral was remedied by the process of making music without expectations or preconceptions. She found herself more awake, reinvigorated by the inspiration behind her songwriting. “I started sending demos to my manager,” K.Flay says. “It felt natural. It felt like this was the sound. I think of this album as a return to where my head was at when I first got signed. It’s still a hip hop record but it’s also an alternative record, a pop record.”
The songs were inspired by experiences during, and surrounding, K.Flay’s extensive touring, both with artists like Passion Pit, Icona Pop, 3Oh!3 and Theophilus London, and at festivals like Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Governor’s Ball. “For me, the live show is the crux of the project. It’s that moment when anything is possible, when people interact with your songs in an entirely visceral & unpredictable way.” It was the fans she made along the way that helped fund the recording process. When Flaherty asked her supporters for help in putting out the record, her crowd-funding campaign goal was reached in only six days.
Life As A Dog is imbued with that sense of betterment as K.Flay tries to reconcile the tension between being up to no good and also searching to find the good in everything. “There’s a hopefulness to the songs, like, ‘I fucked up today but I can do better tomorrow,’” explains Flaherty. “Can’t Sleep,” a propulsive, moody number, reflects on the anxiety of missing out, and how that can lead to self-destruction. “Wishing It Was You” harkens back to the musician’s youth, inspired by her admiration for Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville. “Thicker Than Dust” is an ode to friendship, a thumping recollection of the people K.Flay has connected with during her years of travel. A handful of these friends became the collaborators for the album, including Billboard (Robyn, B.o.B., Britney Spears), Justyn Pilbrow (The Neighbourhood) and Sam Spiegel (Maroon 5, N.A.S.A), and K.Flay laid the tracks down in LA, New York and San Francisco, which she refers to as the “epicenters” of her life.
With her debut album in hand, K.Flay now embarks on this year’s 20th Anniversary of Vans Warped Tour. She will continue touring through the end of the year, doing what she loves best – bringing her energetic live show to new and old fans alike.
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