Brittany O’Brien – K.Flay
It’s been almost eight years since Kristine Meredith Flaherty began releasing music and playing shows under the stage name K.Flay. At the time, the 32-year-old Illinois native was playing house parties and double majoring in Psychology and Sociology at Stanford University. Now, instead of matriculating, she’s selling out clubs and theaters across North America.
“I think I’ve always had a general goal when I started making music, and that’s to share a message. When I do that I feel connected to the world and to myself,” K.Flay told Pollstar. “I think music is an incredible conduit for that. If I keep that as my priority No. 1, I can be happy no matter what.”
K.Flay’s touring trajectory reflects her relationship with a growing fanbase and career. She spent the past seven years playing small clubs such, as the 350-capacity
On this tour, which kicked off Jan. 11 at The Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif., she’s upgraded to playing venues in the 1,000-2,000-capacity range, including the 2,040-capacity The Van Buren in Phoenix. K.Flay’s manager, Seth Cummings of Baily Blues, told Pollstar most of her concerts have sold out or are nearly sold out.
“The most exciting moment for us was when I sat down with her seven years ago and asked, ‘What do you want to accomplish with your music?’ The one thing she wanted was to sell out The Fillmore in San Francisco, which holds 1,150,” Cummings said. “For this tour we only had one day to do a show and she wanted it to be at The Fillmore. It sold out almost immediately. It was just a really special moment in her career as it was really the only explicitly stated goal she had, and we got to see that come to fruition.”
Reaching her goals, however, hasn’t been easy. In fact, the only constant in K.Flay’s career has been change, which has helped to hone her skills as a musician, making her a more versatile artist.
The singer signed to RCA Records in 2012 but ended her relationship with the label a year later because of what she called creative differences.
“We tried to get music on RCA, but it’s tough for a young artist signing to a major label,” Cummings said. “We asked to be dropped and then it was kind of back to the drawing board. We had to think about what our vision was. It’s OK to change along the way.”
“It’s been sort of a learn-as-you-go experience and the main thing that I’ve learned is that when I’m doing something that feels authentic or sincere, I feel like I’m moving in the right direction,” K.Flay said. “It takes time to figure out your identity as a human being – that’s a lifelong pursuit – but in terms of music, there are periods of reckoning and for me the real take away has been to follow my gut and work with people that I like to be around.”
For K.Flay, this means following her instincts and picking the right people to work with. Her relationship with Cummings is a prime example of that sentiment.
“I met Seth when I was making music and I was getting a little bit of attention on the Internet and he came up to San Francisco. Over the course of the seven years since that meeting, Seth and
I have forged a partnership that transcends music. It’s great to work with your best friend every day on something that you both believe in. I think we both share that outlook.”
Cummings added, “My style is if we’re going to work this intimately together, we’ve got to have some stuff in common. We have a very close-knit team, not just people on the management side, but also with the artists. It’s a super tight-knit family. For me and especially for Kristine, it strengthens how we do business.”
Through the highs and lows, K.Flay said what really matters is the pursuit of her vison.
“Every little victory, or failure, along the way, has been kept in good perspective by the bigger goal of why I’m doing this in the first place,” she said.
K.Flay recently received a Grammy nomination for best engineered album for her LP Every Where Is Some Where, and is the only female nominated in the best rock song category for “Blood In The Cut.”
K.Flay’s tour continues through Feb. 3, with her last show set at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville. The singer is opening for Imagine Dragons on the band’s European run, which begins Feb. 16 in Belgium. After that she has more headlining North American dates booked in March and May, as well as a string of European gigs of her own.