Radio Milwaukee spoke with Backline artist Kaylee Crossfire as she prepares for a new project and a new EP. The rapper and R&B singer is behind the Female Takeover movement that aims lift other female artists in the city.
5 questions with Kaylee Crossfire
1. When did you discover music?
Music was around me at a young age. I was a tomboy growing up, so I feel like music for me would happen while hanging out with all my male cousins. They were always rapping and doing freestyle sessions. Me being the young one and wanting to fit in, I got into it. They would put on a beat and we would freestyle. That's where the rapping part of it came about.
The singing component happened in elementary school. I just found a picture of a birthday cake when I turned 10 with music notes. It's helping me remember that singing passion and music passion for me so young that my mom put that on this cake. In elementary I ended up in choir classes, then middle school. Middle school was interesting; in 6th grade my World Music teacher allowed me to record a demo for the first time. That was my first recording studio experience. I had my first experience of recording and actually hearing myself and he told me years later, that he used that demo for the class as a demonstration every year. That's so cute! It started from there.
2. Did you grow up in Milwaukee?
I grew up on the East Side. I remember my childhood on Booth and Clarke. When I turned 9 or 10, my mom moved to Wauwatosa. I was in Wauwatosa until 15, then we moved back to Milwaukee in the Washington Heights area. I currently live back in Tosa. I remember my childhood in multiple areas. I'm just a Milwaukee native for real. I've lived on every side of town.
3. What do you think of the music scene in Milwaukee?
The music scene in Milwaukee is cool -- it's diverse. I feel like I want someone from the city to take off and put us on the map. I don't think people really take us seriously here, or they don't check for us here. People who have had success here, could do more to make us known so people focus on here.
We do have amazing people from the city who have found success. When they find that success they leave and don't rep where they're really from; they rep the next city they move to or whatever is popular or trending. When I travel, people say they thought it was only beer and cheese and they didn't even know black people stay here. I hear this all the time.
We have dope people from here. I think the Milwaukee music scene is diverse, there are a lot of people here producing different sounds. I feel like the one artist from here that can get us known will open a Pandora's box of amazing people in Milwaukee.
4. Female Takeover is an event you produce. Could you tell me more about that?
Female Takeover, that's my baby. It's saying, "This is what someone can do for the community once you put your mind to it. This is how we can shine light on the female artists in the city." When it comes to Milwaukee as a whole, I feel they are not paying attention to us and even less they aren't paying attention to the female artists in the city. We don't get the recognition we really deserve here. That's where Female Takeover came about. Trying to create that awareness and shine a light on dope female talent to people in our city. It's grown from artist-based to showcasing hair designers, fashion designers, a wide range of dope female artists because there are so many talented ladies in the city; and not only that, how do we come together? How can the older, more established female artists help the newer and upcoming female artists? It doesn't have to be a competition, I feel like that's how it was when I came out as a female artist in Milwaukee. I felt like people didn't want us to coexist. That was my way of breaking that competition cycle. Let's all come together to do this for the greater good, because we can create a greater impact together.
I'm glad I can be that big sister, because I didn't have anybody showing me anything when I first started. I was out here fending for myself, trying to find a way. Like all of us. Don't be that one to hold information, if you can help somebody it's best to help. It lifts us all up.
5. Backline has been supporting you in a similar way, can you talk about your experience?
Backline has been a phenomenal program for a lot of artists. When I got the info and signed up, I didn't think it would happen but I thought, "Let's just see." Then by the grace of god I ended up getting it and going through the process. Everything has been super phenomenal. Honestly, working with everyone at 88Nine and Backline really are giving us the dope connections and resources, they're helping us with mental health components, helping us through things to get us ready for the future. That's what I've taken out of the program. Everyone is going to come in and take out something different, but me, the mental health piece is really showing me and teaching me how to get through life with the issues and problems that were deeper, that could trigger something. I don't want to build this career only for it to crumble because I'm not equipped to deal with certain things. I feel like the program has equipped me there and the connections and resources will equip me in a different way.
Obviously having the funds to properly fund my career has been amazing, because I have been self-funding the whole time. Having the freedom to know how to handle this. That's a lot of stress too, wanting to get something done but you can't. Shout outs to Mag [Rodriguez] and Brian [Lynch], too. They've given great help and advice.
We just got together to discuss the rollout of my new project that I've been working on. New music coming soon, actually I will be dropping a single this month. I'm gearing that up, I have my EP I'm working on. These are things the program has been able to do for me. I have been able to work towards a whole new project. I'm getting my ducks in a row for that. I'm working on my EP, videos, photoshoot.
Doing this for Milwaukee artists is just phenomenal. That's the reason why a lot of artists leave the city, they feel like they don't have a lot of support and resources here. They leave the city in search of these things and I appreciate 88Nine and Backline bringing those things here. The goal is to keep artists in the city and all thrive together. Female Takeover and Backline all tie in together, I've been able to introduce a lot of artists to Backline who didn't know about it. These workshops they throw are super, super helpful and they're free! It's knowledge all artists should know. Even that's amazing. I appreciate they are trying to bring it here. I can't say anything other than "it's amazing." We need more things like this.
My job now, being in the program is to let my community know. If you're serious about being an artist, these things are beneficial to you.
Kaylee Crossfire will release the single "Baddie Alert" on July 19, 2019
Watch the video for "Damn Daddy" by Kaylee Crossfire below: