Artist K.Flay opens up about the way she got into music

Artist K.FLay hangs out before her set at Austin City Limits. K.Flay hit the Vrbo Stage on Friday. She will play her set at Weekend Two, as well. Shae Koharski | Social Media Editor

By Preston Gossett | Arts & Life Editor

AUSTIN — Artist Kristen Flaherty, better known as K.Flay, had an interesting exposure to song-writing — she got into an argument with someone who said she had no idea what she was talking about because she had never written a song.

“Well, I’ll write a song and then I’ll know what I’m talking about,” Flaherty said, hours before performing her first set of the festival. “And that is how I got into music.”

The creative process for writing songs is largely about creating a good space for it, Flaherty said. Illinois born, Flaherty talked about her creative space and what that means for her. If she’s able to create a space solely dedicated to creativity and immersing herself in it, it’s really easy to find ideas, either from her own head or from the minds of her friends. From a musical standpoint, she said that she typically starts with a chord progression or a basic structure, and she’ll either tap into a lyrical idea, or she’ll throw it out and start over.

“I need to sort of compartmentalize a lot of things, but it’s really easy to be creative,” Flaherty said. “There’s a lot of ideas out in the world, and if I lock onto something that’s exciting to me, then the music and the lyrics kind of co-evolve.”

Practicing and rehearsing is one way K.Flay can guarantee that the nerves will go away. Practice with your band and experiment with your sound. It all helps to make you a better artist, she said.

Alcohol doesn’t calm the nerves like she used to think. If anything, it made her feel less in control, and that’s not something she recommends.

“I used to think that drinking alcohol would make me less nervous,” Flaherty said. “Common misconception, I think, actually. I’ve found that preparation makes me less nervous.”

Flaherty also has a weekly microcast, available exclusively on smart assistants like Alexa and Google Home. She said it’s this untapped new frontier and that no one is really making audios for these devices in people’s homes. Flaherty’s idea for her microcast — she lives this bizarre life in motion, getting to go to all of these strange places all the time.

“It’s called ‘What Am I Doing Here,’ which is a question I find myself asking frequently,” Flaherty said. “Every week I’m somewhere different — psychologically or geographically — and talking about what that means and talking to people.”

Flaherty started out in the indie rap world and that’s where she learned to make music. She started experimenting with melodies, live instrumentation and guitars, and it was there that she discovered what she wanted to engage with in the rock space.

“Play as many shows as possible, and expose yourself to as much live music as possible to learn how you want to be as a performer,” Flaherty said. “We’re living in the age where there’s so much internet music, so it’s important to be able to play live and on tour — you kind of only learn that by doing it.”

The world is chaotic and inundated, Flaherty said. Opportunities like music festivals, shows, art galleries and all different types of spaces and sentiments are a good chance for some relief, she said.

“Enjoy the relief and engage with the release,” Flaherty said. “Don’t be self-conscious. And stay hydrated.”

K.Flay performed on the Vrbo stage late Friday afternoon, and she’ll take the same stage at the same time during Weekend Two of the festival.