“Go white girl, go white girl, go white girl” is what I imagine crowds chant when Kay steps onto the scene. With her blonde hair tied tightly in a bun, her Adidas track jacket, leopard print pants and big gold chains, this girl can dress the part and do it all – she can rhyme, she can sing, she can play the piano, and oh, if you didn’t know, she also rolls with Kurtis Blow.
First off, how do you always look so fly?
Well that’s a really interesting question today. I don’t, is the answer and you know what, I find typically the more tired I am and the quicker it is, the better you can put together an outfit. It’s when you have too much time that you start overanalyzing and freaking out about things. I have a passion for fashion.
It must be difficult packing for tour then.
It’s extremely difficult. What I did was, I packed way too much and yeah, I just had to pack everything. I was really trying to hold back, but you know what, you need a lot of ‘just in case’ things. I packed most definitely more than anybody on this tour.
You are kind of an expert at wearing the big gold chains. What are your outfit tips on pulling that off?
I think gold goes with anything for starters. So I think no matter what, if you’re super dressy or casual, you can wear gold. I don’t know, it’s one of those things I’ve been wearing – gold chains and hoops, probably since I was in high school so it’s been kind of a minute now.
The album is dropping soon, right?
I just dropped my EP a couple of weeks ago, kind of like a tastemaker for everyone to get an idea of what the albums going to be like. The first single off the album is going to be dropping right before summer so typically three or four months after the album drops.
What process did you go through crafting the album, fine-tuning your sound and locking down your flow?
For starters I was very over-ambitious and I thought it was going to take me two months to do the album. I was like easy-peasy, in and out, let’s do this. But I had to work with a lot of different people and it was like finding your groove…Some people like to write alone, but for me I’ve been writing alone my entire life so I’ve been really excited to collaborate with different people and have the opportunity to learn from them. It actually took a lot longer. It took me about a year to finish the whole album. I worked with probably twenty to thirty different people and then it wasn’t until I met certain people that I was like, “okay love this” and we did a bunch of songs with those people, that type of thing.
As an artist you are a bit undefined. You do a bit of singing, rapping, some songs sound more hip-hop, some electronic or pop. Do you feel as an artist, you have much more freedom whereas before if you were a hip-hop artist, you make a hip-hop album?
A really good example is someone like Rihanna. She has super dance songs on her album, and then she also has really pop, and a reggae vibe on some songs. You can do it all. I came from a background of dance music. I started off doing drum and bass, electronic music, but growing up, I grew up on country music. I’ve gotten a chance to experience it all and no matter what I think you just have to be yourself. I don’t think anyone just only like one specific type of music and that’s it. I’ve been really fortunate to be able do stuff with some of my friends in the dance world like Diplo and Tiesto, but as well, I get to do my album with some more pop stuff. I would consider myself a pop artist for sure, but I do love hip-hop. I’m not about to do any sort of free style battle or anything like that.
That could be pretty dope though.
Uh, yeah, no. There’s so many females coming out doing hip-hop and stuff like that, I just think it’s important for people to know that I’m just being myself. I’m a pop artist, but I absolutely love hip-hop so that’s part of it, but I’m not trying to be an emcee.
What are some essential hip-hop tracks from your childhood?
I actually got into hip-hop a little bit later, but I’ve been blessed to be around people with really good taste. Sometimes when I play things to people, they’re like, “How do you know that?” And I want to act really cool and be like, “Well you know, when I was four I was listening to Outkast.” I just had my own style. When I was four, when I was a kid I had no taste in music. But obviously, you gotta have some Biggie, some OutKast, Missy Elliot. That was the one thing I can say I had decent taste. Growing up I loved Missy Elliot. I had all of her albums.
Well before Big, OutKast and Missy, there was Kurtis Blow. And you got to work with him!
Yeah! It’s really funny, a lot of the guys I’ve worked with, hip-hop producers and guys like that, they were so stoked that I got to work with him. For me that was just like a personal thing, a labour of love. I really, really wanted to work with him. He’s the first rapper of all time, which is pretty crazy. He had stories for days and he was a sweetheart. I really, really liked his vibe. He told me he really believed in me and thought I was going somewhere. And for me, he was so genuine about it. That meant a lot to me.
The track that kicked this all off, that started it all, is “My Name Is Kay”. What inspired that track?
It was kind of a joke at first. I was telling a story about sometimes, people get my name wrong. Around the same time we were listening to a lot of James Brown and we were just joking around and it evolved from there. It was kind of just supposed to be an interlude on the album, but I shot a little low budget video with my friends in Chicago and I’m so grateful that MuchMusic started playing it and then radios followed suit. It’s been a huge blessing, but I had no idea people were going to play it at all because who can relate to that?
Do people totally sing their own name to you to that tune?
Is it annoying yet?
No, not at all. I’m so grateful. It’s really, really cool. I can’t believe people find some sort of relation to that song because that song is really all about me, but people have been really sweet about it.
What’s next for you? What’s coming up?
Right after this I’m going to fly to LA, cut one more song for my album and then it’s done. I hope it’s done. And then we are going to look at summer tours and festivals. I just don’t believe anything until I’m there, like it’s not happening, it’s not real until I’m on the bus. Then I’m like okay, I think I can actually celebrate this. So finishing my album and then getting on tour.