INTERVIEW: My Name Is Kay is the chick, the song and the brand all in one

Once in a while the great wasteland that is top-40 radio grows something interesting.

Case in point: My Name Is Kay. Nova Scotia’s Kay Boutilier and her collaborators have scored a pretty major hit here, launched with YouTube – and what a funky blast of self-contained musical marketing it is, too. My Name is Kay is the name of the song, the name of the band and the name of the brand all in one. Hard to forget.

The track evokes an old-school James Brown vibe as it tackles the serious modern issue of dudes hitting on chicks whose names they’ve forgotten. It starts with the line, “You just keep on talking, don’t know what my name is, ever since you walked in, acting like you’re famous,” then she shouts, twice: “You don’t know what my name is!” before reminding listeners more than a dozen times throughout the song in a stuttering cadence: “Kay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay.” Got it? It’s Kay.

Think Lady Gaga meets Ke$ha. A clever writer, rapper, decent singer and blessed with “what my mom might describe as an attitude,” Kay opens for Hedley at Rexall Place on Wednesday. She’ll be doing more than her one song she did opening for LMFAO in the same building last month.

As Kay explains about the branding question, “There’s one thing hip hoppers like to do: Say their own name, talk about cars and talk about hotels – and I plan on doing all three of those on my album.” Three things, not one, but whatever. She left out one thing. The song also mentions, “I put rum in my lemonade.”

Kay says, “Everything in the song is real. Guys do that kind of stuff. Even my father forgets my name. Just kidding. He’s the sweetest man in the world. The only thing that’s actually not true in the song is the rum in my lemonade. There’s a third component to that drink that just didn’t rhyme so I left it out: Iced tea. Lemonade and rum tastes awful. I show up at a lot of places where people have lemonade and rum for me. I have a really hard time telling them. It’s a good laugh.”

Top-40 is a topsy turvy world. Most practitioners do not write  their songs for children, and yet to a great extent the under-18 crowd is what eats this stuff up, sexual references and all. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s all the drinking. Everyone in modern top-40 songs is always raising their glass, filling up their cups, putting bottles on the ice and getting a hangover.

“Yes, it’s true,” Kay allows. “But there are things like maybe Yo Gabba Gabba with music that’s specifically for younger people. I’m not making my music for four-year-olds, so it’s a bit surprising how many kids are into it, and I love that. And I find my songs to be pretty G-rated compared to most.”

Point taken. Besides, all her little cousins in her “huge family” back in Cape Breton are into My Name is Kay, too. Lots of family and loyal friends back home are watching her every move just as closely as all the young fans. Kay says she’s been working her whole life for this opportunity. But just imagine if she’d stuck with fiddle lessons as a kid instead of throwing herself whole hog into hip hop. Blame mom and dad.

“My parents asked me to please stop,” Kay recalls. “If you don’t know how to play the fiddle, it is the worst sound. So three weeks into that, my career ended.”

The rest is top-40 history. It’s not always an oxymoron.