Confidence is key to My Name Is Kay's style
Canadian singer-songwriter Kay Boutilier, who goes by the stage name My Name Is Kay, made Los Angeles her permanent home only recently, but she looks every bit the California girl. When the Georgia Straight sits down with the up-and-coming pop star at a Vancouver hotel on June 28, the 24-year-old is dressed in a fitted grey sweatsuit and chunky gold jewellery. Her blonde hair is slicked back into a low ponytail—except for the side-swooped pompadour that has become part of her signature look—her sun-kissed cheeks boast a smattering of freckles, and her fingernails are long, pointed, and painted a shocking shade of lime green.
“I have a passion for fashion,” Boutilier says energetically. “I would say I always like to have a contradiction of some sort. I think it’s cool to wear something very dressy and throw in maybe a pair of high-tops or something, or wear something very casual and…add something playful and fun.”
While Boutilier counts tracksuits by Adidas, streetwear by Joyrich, and gym sneakers as her must-have items for when she’s on tour—most recently with LMFAO, Far East Movement, and Hedley—she admits that most of her suitcase is reserved for toiletries and hair products.
“It’s bad. It’s like Hoarders. If you look in my cabinet, it’s insane. I move around a lot, and every time I’m packing up for something, it’s the bathroom that’s insane,” she says. “I think what it is, is I don’t know what’s working and what’s not, so I just use everything at the same time. I mean hair and skin is just extremely important.”
Boutilier is in Vancouver to meet up with two fans for an afternoon of pampering at Kitsilano’s Infinity Salon and Spa. The Ontario-based winners entered a contest co-sponsored by Universal Music Canada and göt2b, a brand of hairstyling products that Boutilier uses.
“When it comes to hair, that’s my thing,” she says. “I quite enjoy sitting in front of the mirror in the morning, having a cup of tea, and getting ready. Some people meditate—that’s my meditation. I find inner peace with a head of rollers.”
But Boutilier—who is usually seen with one of two signature hairstyles (the other is braided Chun-Li–style buns) and bright, pop-art nails—didn’t always have such a glamorous beauty routine. Growing up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Boutilier spent her childhood taking piano and fiddle lessons before getting her start as a wedding singer as a teenager. Soon after graduating highschool, Boutilier formed an electronic music group called Ladies Take Control, which toured internationally, before learning how to rap from MCs in the U.K.
“I love all types of music. There’s really no genre that I don’t love, and it’s kind of changed over the years,” Boutilier says. “It always depends who you’re around…. I think some of the best artists and producers are in L.A., so there’s lots of really talented people. Obviously, if you surround yourself with lots of really talented people, it brings up your game.”
Boutilier released her five-song EP, My Name Is Kay, earlier this year, and the songs are a blend of her eclectic tastes: high-energy dance beats, cheeky rhymes, and hip-hop-meets-pop vocals similar to Fergie and Nicki Minaj.
“I’m really excited. I’ve always dreamed about having music out there for people to hear, but just being able to get to that point as an artist is huge,” she says. “Music is my first love before anything, and then I’m surrounded by a lot of creative people. I have a lot of friends in the fashion industry, really great friends that do all sorts of artistic stuff, so I think I’m very influenced by that of course, but it all starts with music.”
Boutilier says she often looks to her friends and their blogs for style inspiration, especially when she’s on the road and forced to create new outfits out of a select number of items packed in her suitcase. However, she tries not to take fashion too seriously and, like her approach to music, is open to trying anything. Her best piece of advise to those who admire her bold style?
“Just be yourself and be confident. That’s the most attractive quality, so whether you’re wearing something from a thrift store or something very expensive, just work it out,” Boutilier says. “I love when I just meet someone who’s very confident in their style. It doesn’t matter what that is.”