Interview | FFS 5 with Lindsay Kay

Screenshot from YouTube

L.A. by way of Canada singer-songwriter Lindsay Kay puts forth a collection of songs centered around womanhood and femininity on her debut LP, For the Feminine, by the Feminine (out Oct. 5). The project was made start-to-finish by women and female-identifying pros who’ve worked with critical darlings like Sonic Youth and Rufus Wainwright to megastars like Childish Gambino, Lady Gaga and Sia.

Kay’s singular, ethereal vocals are wrapped in graceful melodies filled with the gentle sounds of harp, organ, upright bass and accordion. Her intricate, vulnerable lyrics are anchored in reflection, exploring the ways modern women and female-identifying persons compress themselves and carry societal expectations on their shoulders. Kay’s songs of feminine pain and womanhood began coming together when she returned from an artist residency in France in 2016—right on the cusp of political turmoil, the Women’s Marches and the #metoo movement.

For the Feminine, by the Feminine delivers a haunting and thoughtful project for all female-identifying people, but above all else, it forces you to experience a depth of emotions in hearing honestly shared experiences. It’s a record that gives comfort in hearing one’s own experiences mirrored back, and there is solace in knowing we are not alone in our pain and restlessness.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

My name is Lindsay – I’m a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, though I was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. I was always a musical child (singing in the car, etc.) and my mother noticed an affinity for music in me when I was really young, maybe about 3 years old. She put me into some children’s choirs and musical youth activities and from there my love of music just grew and grew. As a kid I was mostly interested in singing (I wanted to be the next Christina Aguilera haha), but as I got a little older I became interested in playing the guitar, and the songwriting bug hit me in my early teens. By high school I was pretty actively playing music both in school and outside of school, and after my teacher/mentor introduced me to the world of jazz, I fell in love with it and went to Berklee College of Music to study jazz composition and vocal/guitar performance. After graduating Berklee, I started to feel more drawn to the singer-songwriter realm of music and less interested in continuing with jazz. I wanted to reconnect with simpler sounds and acoustic instrumentation and songs with an emphasis on lyrics and melody, so I embarked down that path and haven’t looked back since.

As an artist, how do you define success?

I define success as making good work, being a kind, curious, open, empathetic person, and connecting with an audience (however large or small) in a real, authentic, emotional way. I struggle with including money in my definition of success as an artist, because to me, money has nothing to do with art, but rather has to do with business. I am forced to be a business person as well as an artist, because marketing and promoting and selling music is an essential component in it reaching an audience and establishing the aforementioned authentic connection, and that makes it worth it to me, but monetary success and artistic success feel completely separate in my mind.

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

The industry gatekeeper mentality and the emphasis on networking (ugh) and forcing yourself and your music down other people’s throats…. The unsolicited emailing, the desperate desire to meet and impress some kind of “important person,” the hope that someone will “discover” you and catapult you into fame and fortune. I just don’t really subscribe to that way of existing. I don’t like waiting for other people to give me permission to create, and I’m not particularly interested in fame or fortune.

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist/band? What do you hope to achieve?

If I am able to continue writings songs, record them with musicians and engineers who inspire me and help bring the songs to life beautifully, release albums that I am proud of and that represent the sound I find interesting and exciting at that moment, feel free to express myself without compromising my creative vision, perform my music regularly for the people who care about it, and am able to support myself financially solely through doing those things, I will view myself as very successful.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

Consuming other forms of art and media helps me feel more balanced as a musician. I really love movies and try to see several films a week (RIP MoviePass!), I read lots (books, magazines, articles), listen to tons of podcasts, try to visit museums and galleries often, see live theater and comedy, and enjoy good TV. Outside of that, I try to stay really connected and present with my friends and family, cook delicious meals often, go to the farmers market, and go for hikes!

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)