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Rapper K.Flay Smashes Barriers at BFD

In Music
k.flay

After performing at the Subsonic Tent at BFD, K.Flay is en route to Tennessee for Bonnaroo. // Photo by Peter Adams

K.Flay, also known as former Stanford student Kristine Flaherty, returned to her Bay Area roots Saturday at Live105’s BFD 2012, pirate-themed extravaganza headlined by Jane’s Addiction, Silversun Pickups and Garbage the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Flaherty found her hip-hop muse as an undergraduate student at Stanford University. Since then, she’s created a reputation as unique as her musical tastes. Flaherty’s show translates well with fans of both hip-hop and rock since her music, while rooted in hip-hop, often moves into other genres.

At the Subsonic Stage, one of three side stages at Shoreline, she switched between rapping, live mixing and sampling and pounding on a drum alongside her drummer.

In conversation, she carries a professional, scholarly demeanor as she riffs on everything from her new-found interest for Pantera and Metric to her studies on The Farm in Palo Alto.

“I try to give everything a chance to understand why it has been successful,” Flaherty says.

Growing up, Flaherty was surrounded by a variety of music. First from listening to her father’s classical records to repeating Liz Phair albums alongside other strong female leads in music during her teenage age. Though her strength is hip-hop, that until recently was almost exclusively male-dominated, many of Flaherty’s musical roots originate from strong female leads. Most recently, Metric’s “Youth Without Youth” caught her ear.

“The thing that I like about Metric is that they are pushing boundaries,” Flaherty says. “I like that they are trying to do some things electronically—there’s a new wave feel to the track. It’s a little bit of a throwback.”

Flaherty first arrived to the Bay Area from the suburbs of Chicago as a dual major in Sociology and Psychology at Stanford University.

“I’ve always been interested in domains that have both a very technical side and a little bit more of a philosophical side,” Flaherty says of the two studies, which include both technical statistics and human interaction theory. “I think I always liked that dichotomy, which is probably why I like music, too. I like the technical parts and also being a weirdo on stage.”

Flaherty dabbles in a variety of genres and can hold down a conversation but found that her true strength lay in hip-hop because it lent her the best structure and freedom to write songs that expressed her personality.

“The ability to really manipulate words and to write something as if it was a puzzle was really cool to me about rapping,” she says. “There’s a lot of opportunity for wordplay, rhythm and experimentation.”

While Flaherty continues to expand her career into new areas with a U.S. tour and festival stops, including Boonaroo in Tennesse thise weekend, she advises to all who are just starting out in music to just learn as much as possible.

“The more you know, the more you empower yourself to make things happen when other people don’t necessarily believe in it,” she says.

More information about k.flay, along with a free download of her most recent E.P., Eyes Shut, can be found below at her official website. http://www.kflay.com/

More photos from BFD.

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