RAPstation Exclusive Interview: MC Kalyn Heffernan

As the lead MC for the jazz-infused Hip Hop trio, Wheelchair Sports Camp (WSC), Kalyn Heffernan is at the helm of an incredible ride. Recently signed to the Sage Francis-owned label, Strange Famous Records, the Denver-based group has just released its debut album, No Big Deal, which was produced by the late, great Ikey Owens, who had worked with everyone from Jack White and The Mars Volta to Look Daggers and Free Moral Agents. WSC just released one of Heffernan’s most personal singles from the record, “Hard Out Here From A Gimp,” a track that brilliantly illustrates the judgements and stares the 3’6” tall MC experiences on a daily basis. In the RAPstation interview, Heffernan discusses living in Denver, her writing process, Standing Rock, and being a part of the Strange Famous family. 

RAPstation (Kyle Eustice) Do you ever feel like living in Denver hinders your career in any way because it’s not NYC or LA? Or do you feel it’s been an awesome, supportive environment?


Kalyn Heffernan: Denver is home and I've always found it a great place to be an artist. I did a little bit of growing up outside of LA as a kid, but came back to Denver when I was really clenching on to my identity. LA has never felt energetically creative like Denver does to me. NYC on the other hand is super energy everywhere and I love it there, but I wouldn't want to start a rap career there. Denver is a great place to be free artistically and original. We are land locked almost in the middle of the country, enough that we can be influenced by a lot of other cities but not confined or defined by a sound like NYC or LA. 


As a touring act though yes Denver is tough because we don't have a ton of other big cities close by. I love touring on the East or West Coast because you can hit so much so easily. As far as the "industry" goes, it's not in Denver, but from what I can tell it has collapsed anyway so fuck it. Denver also has repped us hard and we don't take it for granted. 


What is your writing process like?


Well, that depends. But I'm always writing random lines or words down that I can go back and usually pull from. Some songs come out all at once and those are usually the super personal ones just begging to escape from my lil body. Some songs write themselves based mostly on the rhyme pattern and cadence or way the words work well within the rhythm. Some songs I go in with a concept that I need to absorb a bunch about before I feel comfortable writing about. But mostly my writing process works best when I give myself or someone else has given me a deadline that I'm always last minute to. I'm a terrible procrastinator and it's worked itself pretty well into my creative process. 


What’s it like working with the Strange Famous family? 


Well, it's like working with the strange dysfunctional family you grew up loving. It's been awesome having any additional support because I always have ideas or plans to do something, but it's great to have another ear and hand in the pot looking out for our best interest. 


What has the album’s reception been like so far? 


It's been a weird year for me and this is the biggest deals of my life. Releasing our first full length, on a label, with dope videos, produced by a legend, with dope packaging, and all these things yet I've hardly been home since the album dropped. We went on tour the week after, I came home for a couple days before spending a week in NYC, escaped to Santa Fe after the election, and then just returned from a week at Standing Rock before I broke my leg and now I'm really home, stuck to the couch recovering from a surgery. So I don't know if the reception has even set in yet. 


What have you been listening to lately? 


I've been hella in my feels this year—like harder than ever my whole life so yeah, all I do is listen to music. And have seen a ton of live music this year especially. I’m such a bigger fan than participator. Obviously, [Beyonce’s] Lemonade changed the game forever, but this new Frank Ocean won't let me go. Warpaint, James Blake, Radiohead, Erykah always and I definitely got into Drake hard. I like The Internet and Kelela right now. I feel like they made the albums I've felt all year. 


What’s next on the WSC agenda? 


Keep grinding. Keep playing shows. Keep making better music. But in the near future, there's a super special limited Sucklord toy that we're gonna release for the album. 


How are you feeling now that No Big Deal is out? 


I know I'm so happy it's out in the universe. I know a lot of other people are digging on it and the feedback and love and support on everything we've released from it has been better than ever.  All I know is it feels good, but its gonna take a while to process. I hope we get it to bring it to more cities and countries before the next one but I think it's the best first album we could ask for and everything happened the way it was supposed to.