K.Flay Isn't Letting Anything Stop Her
The musician returns today with a new inspirational track, “It’s Been So Long.”
The musician returns today with a new inspirational track, “It’s Been So Long.”
Text: Kala Herh
In the middle of a Californian suburb, inflatable air dancers move erratically. There are blue, yellow and red ones–and in the middle, there’s Kristine Flaherty, who records as K.Flay. Dancing is arguably at the center of K.Flay’s latest single, “It’s Been So Long,” which is about the joys of dancing when no one’s watching.
“For me, this song feels connected to my own experience and my sexuality and finally fully expressing that,” K.Flay shares. “And since I have expressed that part of myself and my sexuality, my life has only gotten richer and better.”
Directed by Eliot Lee, the video is an ode to unabashed confidence and freedom, urging all to escape the monotony of our lives. “Come and dance,” she sings, encouraging all to lean into our power despite an exciting, albeit uncertain future. Throughout the track and video, K.Flay is electric–bouncing through different scenes and expertly navigating key changes. The music video personifies the song in a fun and playful way as it encapsulates the feeling of freedom that comes with losing all sense of self-consciousness. Inspired by experiences that have happened in K.Flay’s life, the resulting song gets at the feeling when you’ve finally broken free and emerged from the emotional wreckage and heartbreak.
“Music is part of how people make memories and part of how people organize their experience and curate a night, curate time with friends,” the artist elaborates. “My hope for this is that it's a part of that soundtrack of being yourself, feeling free, and being with people you love.”
Ahead of the release, we sat down with K.Flay to chat about her creative process, musical inspiration, and intentions for 2023.
V MAGAZINE: Can you tell us how it started with this track and where you kind of all began?
K FLAY: This song began in a very non-premeditated manner. I was in Nashville, and I had COVID, and I was locked up. I was supposed to be there working, writing, and recording. I was just getting to that point after a breakup where I was feeling back in my power, feeling good–that ineffable moment when you've crossed a threshold. That's such a funny thing with any pain experience. There really does come a moment, even if it comes back in waves afterward, but there's this imperceptible change, and I think I had just done that. I was saying to JT Daly, who's one of the producers of the song and a longtime collaborator of mine, I was just like, "I want to express this feeling. It's been so long since I felt good." Some stupid shit like, "It's been so long since I went dancing. It's been so long since I fell handsome." He's like, "Yeah, let's just do that." And so the genesis of the song was rooted in a very real feeling that I had of readiness to reengage with the world and to feel not self-conscious and good. I did have COVID, so when everything was recorded, I was sequestered in a bedroom above a garage recording that. Not all the vocals but a lot of the vocals on this record. I was sick. But we liked the rawness and, again, the non-premeditated nature of that delivery. I hope what shines through with this song is that it's not calculated in any way. It's almost conversational in tone, and that hits the right places for me.
V: Yeah, I feel like with like a lot of these feelings, especially confidence, you can't really kind of plan for them.
KF: Also, when those feelings of confidence come, you've got to hold the fuck on. It can be so fleeting that when it happens, I do think you have to engage with that. I feel like I've learned that as I've like grown up, when that mood in that new era, right when that intersection happens, it's really important to embrace that and to be inside of that.
V: Yeah, for sure. You talked a little bit about the songwriting process for this track, doing it while you had COVID. Can you give us a glimpse into your songwriting process and how you start? Do you get down the lyrics first? Do you make the beat first?
KF: This song came together as many songs of mine do. There's a lot of back and forth, things are co-evolving. The other collaborator on this song, Daniel Tashian, is an incredible musician and really has an extensive understanding of chords and musicality. One of the goals of working with Daniel, we didn't know what we're gonna be working on. It was just, "Let's do some chordal elements that haven't been a part of my repertoire up until this point." And so I'd had this idea for the chorus. It was a very simple two lines. Then the big thing we worked on afterward was JT's pitch, and I'm super glad he pitched it, was the key change for the last chorus, which is my first-ever key change. Probably will be my only key change because I don't know if I have the singing ability for another one. But that felt really fun and physically uplifting.
V: Yeah, it definitely does. How long has this song been in the making?
KF: This has been in the making for over a year, and it was a song that everybody really liked. I wasn't sure of the right time to put it out, but everything started coming together. We shot the video and got the creative feeling right. And now here we are.
V: Now we’re here. That's a great segue cause I also wanted to talk about the music video and the creative direction. What’s with the inflatable wind dancers?
KF: The director that I worked with, his name is Elliot Lee, and the wind dancers, that's Elliot. We talked a lot about mobility and confidence–the things I’ve talked to you about. Now, this was pre-Nope, I should acknowledge, so I don't know if there's something in the air with it because when that came out, we were like, "Oh, shit." But they're kind of like fire, there's no pattern to how they move. And we shot the whole video at my house. I don't know if you dance at home by yourself. Not everyone does, but I definitely do, and have since I was like a teenager. There's something about that. You just feel fucking cool. But yeah, I love how slightly chaotic the music video is.
V: I love that. And as we round out the end of the year, is there anything else that you're still looking to do? And then alternatively, as we approach the new year, is there any New Year's resolution or thing you want to usher in the new year?
KF: Yes, so almost two and a half months ago, I suddenly went deaf in my right ear. And there's been a lot of insight and growth that has happened in the wake of that. I've been practicing expressing more. I’ve found that expressing more has created new channels of connection through vulnerability. It's been a funny realization that even though my job is to professionally express my emotions, I don't often do it in a pure manner. So I think moving into next year, what I've been working on is being okay with that expression and having the confidence and security to do that.
V: Yeah, that’s a great goal to have for yourself. And thanks for sharing. What do you hope this song does for people? Is there one message you want to send?
KF: As far as this release goes, I hope it's a soundtrack for people to have fun. There's a lot about life right now that's not fun. Music is part of how people make memories and part of how people organize their experience and curate a night, curate time with friends. My hope for this is that it's a part of that soundtrack of being yourself, feeling free, and being with people you love.
V: Yeah, for sure. Is there anything else that I missed that you wanted to share?
KF: The only other thing I would say, which a friend of mine pointed out to me, is in the song, I make reference to my own queerness–and not that I was intentionally closeted–but I wasn't fully expressing. My confidence has only gotten stronger. My sense of power has only gotten more fortified. For me, this song feels connected to my own experience and my sexuality and finally fully expressing that. And since I have expressed that part of myself and my sexuality, my life has only gotten richer and better. A lot of people are going through the same experience, and it's a beautiful side note to the song.