K. Flay: “One of the things I’ve always experienced in Philly is the intensity and the passion!” (6/4 at Franklin Music Hall)

“This next body of work is, I think, the strongest body of work of my career.  I created it in the wake of enormous change, and I was set...

“This next body of work is, I think, the strongest body of work of my career.  I created it in the wake of enormous change, and I was set free in a lot of ways, and untethered myself from a lot of expectations,” says multi-platinum, two-time GRAMMY-nominated artist K. Flay during a recent phone chat.  She’s chatting with me about her forthcoming fifth studio album, which is set to drop this fall.  The album’s first single “Raw Raw,” dropped last month, and K. Flay’s been premiering additional album tracks on her current co-headlining tour with grandson, which kicked off May 12th in San Diego, and which will have the two appearing at our own Franklin Music Hall Sunday, June 4th, with Jack Kays supporting: “I’m playing new music, unreleased music!  The only place you can hear it is at the show!”

“Raw Raw” and the rest of the songs to be released this fall are the first since K. Flay confirmed that she had gone completely deaf in her right ear due to a rare condition called Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Labyrinthitis, which forced her to cancel her live dates planned for last fall.  Last December she talked with NME at length about how this setback (in addition to a number of other traumas) has impacted her life, but she remains admirably optimistic about the situation, describing it for me in a way that even frames it as an inspiration: “The whole experience has been an exercise in flexibility, of acceptance, of not thrashing against adversity.”  She tells me that this new disability had a major impact on both the way that she approaches interactions with others, and also her craft as a musician.

“It’s invisible, and it just attunes me to the fact that so many people in this world, and that I encounter, are coping with invisible things.  And it’s encouraged me to approach every interaction I have with a greater compassion and kindness…  It’s kind of shaking up the way I approach music, and it’s been really beautiful…  It’s like going back to those days in 2012, when I was just figuring out how to do this.  There’s something very productive about a beginner’s mind.”

This current (and massive) batch of dates isn’t the first time K. Flay and grandson (Jordan Edward Benjamin) have crossed paths.  In 2020 the two collaborated on grandson track “Peaches (Text Voter XX to 40649),” in addition to X Ambassadors’ “Zen,” on which they both appear.  The two were actually brought together by a musical legend, and quickly felt a significant kinship: “We originally met through [Linkin Park’s] Mike Shinoda.  I think Jordan was opening a tour for him, and I had a song with him…  We share a lot of things in common, aside from just music.”  And, apparently, this tour had actually been in the works for a little while: “It was like 2020 and he was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to tour together, and then… [laughs]…  Jordan and I have a very similar perspective on the live show.”  She also admits that their respective sets will include a bit of overlap: “We’ll be hopping up on each other’s sets…  We’re going to put on a really solid rock show that’s really energetic and dynamic.”

Recent years have seen K. Flay playing a variety of stages and settings, from large nightclubs (such as TLA and Union Transfer), to arenas when she opened for Imagine Dragons, and a plethora of major festivals.  However, she tells me that settings like Franklin Music Hall tend to be where she feels most comfortable: “I think I prefer large clubs and theatres, because there is still that face-to-face interaction…  At a festival, it may be their first time hearing you, so it’s kind of like an introduction, but when people are already familiar with your music, it’s not about introducing your music to them, it’s about giving them something new, something different.”

While the set you hear next month will contain a number of brand-new tracks, K. Flay assures me that longtime fans can also expect plenty of things they’ll be able to sing along to: “I’m a big believer that you give the people what they want; that’s how I am as a fan.  You wanna hear the big songs.  I think there’s a balance between showcasing the new material and honoring the older material.”  And while K. Flay admits to being psyched for each of her upcoming dates (“I’m genuinely excited for every show that we have.  I love touring!  I love traveling!”), she does tell me that the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has always left an exceptionally good impression: “Of course I’m excited to be in Philly!  The Philly crowds have incredible energy.  One of the things I’ve always experienced in Philly is the intensity and the passion!”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.