It’s All in The Name By: Heidi Hofstad

Upbeat and positive My Name is Kay shares her thoughts on music, friends and why she loves barbeques.

My Name is Kay’s self titled, debut single got our attention with its cheeky lyrics and overall you tell them, girl sass. Kay has since hit the stage touring (which she loves) across Canada with LMFAO and Hedley. And the singer/songwriter is putting the finishing touches on her first album, set to hit the airwaves next year. Something tells us everyone will soon get to know My Name is Kay, and definitely remember her name.

Vervegirl: Is Kay a nickname?

My Name is Kay (MNIK): Yes. My full name is Kristen, but everyone’s called me Kay my whole life – other than my mom when she is upset with me. You know how parents use your full name when they are mad at you? It was my grandmother’s nickname, too, so it makes me happy to use it since she’s no longer around, but I do feel like she’s my little guardian angel. So every time I hear “Kay” I feel happy. And when I hear “Kristen,” it makes me think I’m in trouble.

VG: What do you want people to take away from your music?

MNIK: I am a very upbeat, positive person, so I think that comes across. Especially girls . . . we want music to get ready to, to go out to, to go through falling in love, or a breakup or a breakout (laughs). That’s the type of music I’m trying to make, and I hope it evokes an emotion. I’m typically in a good mood, so a lot of it is pretty chipper.

VG: You grew up in Cape Breton, have lived in Vancouver and you’re now settled in Los Angeles. Do you feel you had to leave Canada to advance your career?

MNIK: That’s a difficult question. I would go anywhere for music, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be LA, but there are a lot of opportunities here. You can do a lot in Canada – being Canadian is so huge for me; I would never give that up. But, I need to be in LA at this point in my career. I do miss my family a lot, but right now it’s just a sacrifice I need to make.

VG: Is there any artist or genre of music we would be surprised you listen to?

MNIK: Country music. I constantly have the radio station on a country channel when I’m driving. It reminds me of growing up – my family listens to a lot of country music. I don’t get that notion that if you love hip-hop, you can’t love country music. I love everything.

VG: Any advice from your teen years?

MNIK: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you – who know things you don’t know – and be open to learning. I definitely spent time around people who weren’t making me a better person and vice versa – we were just goofing off for long periods. I think if you really want something, you need to take it seriously.

VG: Describe your style?

MNIK: My style has really evolved. It definitely leaned more towards a street, hip-hop style for a really long time, but I’m maturing now and I think my style is maturing with me. I just like to always have something contradicting – like if you’re wearing something really classy and fancy, throw in something that’s a little more urban. It looks cool.

VG: Do you think blondes have more fun?

MNIK: I don’t know who made that up, but that’s bull. It’s all about the person – it’s what your vibe is, but I think everybody needs to have more fun. The older I get, the more I realize you just need to roll with the punches and love who you are and people will catch onto that energy – when you’re confident about who are, people love that.

MNIK: When I first came out to LA, I was at a barbeque. I was singing and having a good time and it was really casual – I was wearing what I call a Nova Scotia uniform, which is my high-school graduation hoodie, which everyone signed, and pyjama pants. This gentleman walked up to me and said he really liked my voice. Two days later, I was in the studio with producer Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic), and he was working with Adele. Things can change overnight, if you’re ready.

VG: Do you have any formal singing training?

MNIK: Yes, and I think that’s really important, whether you have an amazing voice or an okay voice. I was never the best singer in choir or any competition I’ve ever entered, but I took it really seriously, so I’ve been in voice lessons, on and off, my whole life. It’s crazy to me that a lot of great singers don’t even warm up. Your voice is your instrument.

 VG: Any pre-performance backstage rituals?

MNIK: I’m very superstitious. If I can’t do some things, I freak out a little bit. This is strange, but I really like black licorice when it’s stale. I leave the box open in my car for days. I also need to do my vocal warm-ups, and I like to have some tea.

VG: Your favourite song on your upcoming album?

MNIK: That’s a tough one. I’ll tell you one thing: over the past month, I thought my album was finished, but then I went back into the studio just to do some collaborations with other artists. I ended up writing four new tracks, which I think are going to be on the album. They’re fun, dance-y songs, with really big deejays and producers.

VG: Three beauty products you can’t live without?

MNIK: Oh, god, three? I’m like a product hoarder. Underneath my bathroom sink is embarrassing. I’m a girly girl. I’m going to say hair pomade – I need it for flyaways. This sounds really strange, but I’m really into Gold Bond moisturizer – it has Shea butter and smells amazing. And I have to say, a little spray tan . . . I’m not afraid, and there are many pictures to prove that – sometimes I go a little overboard.

VG: Describe a typical night out with your girlfriends?

MNIK: Normally we spend more time getting ready than we do actually out. That’s the best part of the night. I have amazing girlfriends, and we love just getting together and listening to music and trying on clothes and dancing around and gossiping. That would be a typical evening, followed by going out somewhere. I really like to go dancing. One of my girlfriends always says the dance floor is my gym, and it’s so true.