'Wanna Be Mine?': K.Flay Extends An Open Invitation Of Sisterhood With 'Solutions'

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K.Flay's latest album, Solutions, is out now. (Koury Angelo/Courtesy of the artist)

K.Flay kicked off her musical career with experimental rap mixtapes like Suburban Rap Queen in 2003 when she entered Stanford University. Since then, singer has dabbled in different styles, but retained a biting, rough-around-the-edges sound. She's dropped such projects as I Stopped Caring in '96 and Life as a Dog and her Grammy-nominated 2017 track "Blood In The Cut" is a raging strutter.

"I had this kind of peripatetic existence," K.Flay says of her earlier music, much of it written right here in the Bay Area. "I didn't live anywhere. I was on tour constantly. So, there was a real sense of displacement that I felt and I really was trying to reckon with in that period."

But K.Flay's latest album, Solutions, has a different, somehow quieter, feel. A new softness colors one of the album's lead singles, "Sister."

"Sister," unsurprisingly, talks about siblings. K.Flay explains that she has a brother and a sister, though they aren't related by blood. Her parents split up when she was around 5 or 6, and her stepfather — her two siblings' biological father — helped raise her and later adopted her.


"I'm super, super close with my family, and I think a lot about family, just because of the way my childhood played out," K.Flay reflects. "I think it gave me time to consider, like — what is the role of blood and DNA? What is the role of nurture?"

On Every Where Is Some Where, the 2017 predecessor to Solutions, K.Flay also sang about family members in the song "Champagne" — but that album took a different approach to the subject.

"In a lot of ways, that record was about problems," K.Flay says of Every Where Is Some Where. "I think I wrote that in a space of heartbreak."

In contrast, Solutions reflects a more hopeful creative state. K.Flay describes how she worked on this album from a healthy, optimistic space. "I was falling in love; I was really taking care of myself for the first time in a long time. I think there's an optimism, a cautious optimism, that's inherent in a lot of those reckonings."

"Sister" showcases that optimism and love in the form of sisterhood — which K.Flay describes as a gender-less concept to encapsulate compassionate connection and chosen family-building. Although the song originated from what K.Flay calls a feeling of "separateness" from her siblings, it grew into a vulnerable, inviting expression of warmth.

"This record, and the kind of lyrical challenge I gave to myself, was: Let me take these points of pain, these points of angst, these points of confusion and kind of, like, just pivot a little bit in the direction of optimism or hopefulness," K.Flay says. "I got into the studio a couple months later and everything just sort of clicked, where I was like, 'You know what? The thing I wanna say to my brother and sister, and the thing that I did say and I have said and it's worked, is, 'I wanna be your sister. Do you wanna be mine?'"

Web intern Rosalind Faulkner contributed to the digital version of this story. Listen to the full aired conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2019 NPR.