Mid Coast Vol. 19; ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Flykiddxoxo, Clare McCullough, Ke1, Dahlia


Midcoast Collective hosted their 19th edition at Cactus Club on Friday night featuring artists Flykiddxoxo, Clare McCullough, Ke1 and Dahlia. They raised money for Reproductive Justice Action Milwaukee, a grassroots organizations with ten demands: the repeal of Wisconsin State Statute 940.04, the complete separation of church and state, that law enforcement not enforce abortion bans, that Wisconsin law enforcement read Miranda Rights to detainees, that the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County dismiss and not prosecute all abortion cases, community control over the police, free menstrual products for all who menstruate, and public access to all contraceptives.

Flykiddxoxo is a hip hop artist who was inspired to start making music by his family. He explains, “I believe it was 2015 when I made my first song. My brother and sister were into music and they had a computer to record, and my sister had made a song which kind of pushed me to do it too. I made a song to the same beat she did and just kept going and never stopped.”

Some of Flykidd’s biggest influences are Speaker Knockerz, Travis Scott, Drake and Post Malone. He dropped three new songs this summer – “Anthony Davis”, “Seeing Signs”, and “Sorrows.”

On the new songs, Flykidd shared, “”Anthony Davis” was honestly kind of a throwaway song. When I was recording my first tape in the studio, it was one of the songs that didn’t make it, but I still put it out and got a lot of good feedback from it. “Sorrows” was another song I was sitting on for a while and that one was me speaking from the heart; everybody goes through shit but not everybody’s got the gift to put that into a song. “Seeing Signs” was a song I was going to wait to put on my next tape but my brothers were really fucking with it so I dropped it as a single, and I’ll probably still throw it on the next tape. I like the flow I did on that one.”

Flykidd is currently working on his new album. “I’m figuring out the sound I want,” he said. “I’ve been working with some producers out in California and some Milwaukee producers too.”

Clare McCullough is a singer-songwriter who began writing solo material after she moved to Houston for a year; she had previously been in folk punk duo Gnatcatchers. When McCullough was still in Houston, she toured around the south. “I was in my last year of college at Marquette when I was doing Gnatcatchers,” she explained. “I was in Houston working on solo stuff and trying to get a band together, and right when I got one together the pandemic hit (laughs). I came back to Milwaukee and ever since then I’ve been teaching myself more production work; I haven’t really been looking for a band but I’d be open to one.”

McCullough cites Haley Heynderickx, Bob Dylan, Frankie and the Cosmos, and The Taxpayers as influences. “I’m definitely exploring my sound right now,” she said. “It’s been a fun time to work on my basics and hone them to perfection but also expand my genre. I want to do the indie rock stuff and maybe move a bit from folk, especially playing with electric guitar.”

Her debut single “This Body Ain’t Mine” she released in fall 2021. McCullough shared, “The whole message behind it is being in control of your own destiny and autonomy. That song is for people who feel their body has ever been policed or monitored or that their self-expression was ever stifled. Ellen Suhr helped me produce it – S/O to Violethead.”

That said, McCullough’s songwriting largely comes from a place of being easy with and giving love to oneself. “I really wish I had heard a lot of things that I didn’t hear when I was a kid,” she said. “I was bullied a lot and never stood up for myself but really wish I would have. I write the songs to myself – to the me that needed to hear that I shouldn’t let the haters get me down. A lot of times you’re your own worst critic but as long as you keep pushing yourself to be better, everything’s going to work out.”

Clare McCullough is working on an album that she’s titled “If Only For Vanity.” She shares, “It’s going slowly and there’s no release date at this time. The title is based on a spoken word poem by Staceyann Chin that’s really helped me through a lot of hard times. When I’m old I want to say that I helped the world and won all my battles, so it’s kind of an homage to that.”

Ke1 is a hip hop artist from the west side of Chicago. Friday was his first time ever in Milwaukee. “Y’all really set the tone,” he said after the show.

He started with poetry before making music, as he explains. “I really got locked in when some British performers came out and took us to Oak Park-River Forest High School where we had to do our thing in front of the whole school…even though I was shy as shit, I really liked the feeling of that energy. I always had an ear for music so I’d be beatboxing in the car, and it came to a point where my guy told me I was good enough to do something with it.”

Ke1’s biggest influences include Lil Wayne, Biggie, 2Pac, Kendrick Lamar, Nas and Rakim. “No Mistake” is Ke1’s latest single, which dropped in August. “It’s crazy because the producer Hotboydre sent me that beat during the pandemic and we were originally going to release it as a deluxe for my album “Photo Graphic Memory.” He asked me two years later if I ever finished the song…and I didn’t…so I went back and wrote the first things that came to mind.”

Currently Ke1 is working on several projects. “I have a project with Hotboydre that’s exclusively engineered, mixed and mastered by him,” Ke1 said. “That one’s going to be called “Hell of A Night.” I’ve got another untitled project on the way, and then I’ve got a collaborative project with Merc3dots coming.”

Dahlia is an artist and producer whose music encompasses R&B, soul, pop and electronica. She’s been singing from a young age, as she recalls. “I was in choir and chorus and all of that starting in 2nd grade. Songwriting I got into when I was younger because I would try recording ringtones with jingles I liked.”

Some of Dahlia’s biggest influences are Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Momsen, Dolly Parton, and Avril Lavigne. Her album “Sounds of My Soul” came out this summer. “I call it my happy accident because it literally was made from my rejects,” Dahlia said. “There were only like two songs that were actually supposed to be put on there. Most of them were things I wrote lyrics to or they just weren’t compatible with how I’m writing for this next project.”

That said, Dahlia’s got another album in the works. “I’m writing about what I’ve been going through as a person and I want this next album to reflect that. As an artist you get to hide things and choose what you want others to see, and I want people to see parts of me that they haven’t necessarily gotten to know yet. I’m a very happy-go-lucky person and haven’t gotten to be vulnerable often, so I’m excited for this album and the collaborations I’m working on with other artists.”

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