K.FLAY is in a very happy place right now and she is beyond excited to share her hopefulness with everyone in a euphoric way. Stepping out of the dark and gritty place that her critically acclaimed sophomore record ‘Every Where Is Some Where’ found comfort in, her new record ‘Solutions’ is a very different affair. With it’s bright and synth driven production, she interpolates her classic alt-rock roots and allows the stories to tell themselves authentically. “We had been touring for like 3 years straight and I just needed a break. So it was a combination of being at home as well as having some real honest conversations with people who were like ‘you don’t seem so happy right now’. And I’m usually a pretty happy person generally so I wanted to get back in touch with that fire of happiness that’s always been inside of me” she reflects on the positive direction of ‘Solutions’.
Currently in Australia for a performance at Splendour In The Grass this weekend as well as two exclusive headline shows, K.FLAY whose real name is Kristine Flaherty, sits across me before her Sydney show and is calm and excited about opening up about the inspirations behind this very honest record.
The journey for ‘Solutions’ started while touring her last record. While on the road she realised that it was easier for her to write and sing about darkness and cynicism which may be true but it also felt like a default in many ways. With a destructive feeling overcoming her, she no longer felt like that path was evolutionary. “I think the shift there was realising that being hopeful and positive or making things that felt hopeful and positive was scary to do and therefore actually more riskier and more badass than the other way” she admits.
A major influence was getting home and getting out of the touring structure and finding the rhythm of life again. As she explains, the behaviour norms are so different on tour and that can become quite blinding and highlight different extremes. “If you are a doctor and you drank alcohol every day, everyone would be concerned. But if you’re a touring musician and drink every day, it’s perceived as normal. The norms are kinda shifted. It’s good to come up for air because I hadn’t come up for air in a long time”.
From deciding to be more open and positive in her life, she fell in love with fellow musician and songwriter Miya Folick. Coming out publicly two weeks ago in an exclusive interview with GQ Magazine, they proclaimed their love for each other and opened themselves up to the world which was a slightly daunting thing but it felt right. It was an important moment for us but nothing has changed in my life. It just feels good. I’m a believer in honesty in all ways and I think it’s really liberating’ she reflects on the article.
With their relationship sparking she speaks to the merit of falling in love and the general openness of possibility. “Your perspective is shifted and there is suddenly another person and she is a musician too and I think in multiple ways that opened up my creative mind. I think it was kinda the last thing to iradicate any self confidence. I learnt to be utterly self conscious. I talk to my mom about this a lot. I feel like you lose your ego when you get older. It’s very beneficial and It’s psychologically helpful. So in a lot of ways I felt like I was losing my ego through falling in love and being vulnerable and that felt really good” Flaherty explains.
As a whole, ‘Solutions’ embraces being honest, positive and open in so many different ways. At it’s core, ‘DNA’ is one of the records most raw storylines. Reflecting on the death of her birth-dad and what parts of him embody who she is, she admits that she wasn’t hesitant to share that side of her to the world. Instead she was actually excited. “That song to me actually feels like I’ve reached peace with the situation. When you have a dead parent, they kinda function as this ghost and you hypothesise about them and how things might’ve been or how things are now because of that. So ‘DNA’ was a pleasure to share because I’ve never met a person who doesn’t have an answer to what their relationship is with their parents. And everyone has a different and big answer. It’s something that is deeply apart of everyone whether they wanna talk about it or engage with that or not. Reckoning with your heritage and who you are is why therapy exists”.
The premise of that song was to accept the grey area of who she is as a person because of him and the ways that she’s not like him and be okay with it. because at the end of the day there are things you can’t change and that’s okay. “It felt like quite a relief to me. And to be honest this whole album is like a giant relief to me”. And the album cover reveals a tattoo that represents the connection she has to her birth dad, her internal growth and the importance of allowing yourself.
Finding vulnerability in a different way, ‘Nervous’ is a straight up love song full of hope and she admits that it wasn’t easy to unload that initially. “For some reason when you’re naively optimistic, you are a dummy. And that get’s trashed a lot but I also think that’s true. Blind optimism serves no purpose. We are all disillusioned profoundly at one point or another but it’s important to try be self aware” she confesses.
Exploring the idea that there was something more powerful and riskier about professing her love, and hoping that it works out, she notes that the lyric “It’s hard to be honest, but I’m being honest” perfectly encapsulates that need to be vulnerable in a relationship to make it work.
Fan favourite ‘Good News’ falls under the same umbrella as she comes full circle to her original songwriting process and looks at the world’s political climate and social status and begs for good news. But whilst it’s an upbeat and hopeful song at it’s heart, she confesses that it was the hardest song to write, mix and to find the right balance of energy. She wrote a version of the verses six years ago but it didn’t feel right. She was then working with her main collaborator Tommy English on ‘Solutions’ when she brought the idea out of the vault and worked on a totally different chorus. But it didn’t feel right. The rhythm of the verses had something different that stood out to her but everything they tried for the chorus didn’t bring it justice. Coming to peace that maybe it wasn’t meant to be they moved on. But a few days later they had a breakthrough.
“I came into the studio and something bad had happened on the news and I was like ‘dude, I really could just use some good news’. And I was like, ‘why don’t we do a song called good news’ and he suggested we make that the chorus for the other song because it made total sense. It was what it was about but I was just saying it in a more complicated way before and from there it just came together” she explains.
And that’s how this album finds it’s genuine approach. The optimism is there as well as the emotional layers. With her Australian tour kicking off last night in Sydney, she wants to envision this new live show in acts with different tones and moods. “It was a natural way to create that shift where it doesn’t feel like one note. We start off in a darker space and move into this really fun and hopeful space. Playing ‘This Baby Don’t Cry’ live is just FUN and we are working on playing songs like ‘Ice Cream’ which we will play in the fall on the headlining tour”.
But while there is a heavier synth interpolation, it is still a rock show in it’s spirit and she brings a levity that wasn’t there before which is an exciting evolution.
K.FLAY Australian Tour
Thursday July 18 – Howler, Melbourne
Friday July 19 – Splendour In The Grass, Byron Bay *SOLD OUT*