By David Rolland
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Melissa Young promises she doesn't usually yawn this much. "I have a serious case of insomnia," Young, more commonly known as hip-hop artist Kid Sister, says over the phone.
The Chicago native has been up all night, working on outtakes for albums by hip artists like Chromeo and the Cool Kids so she can finally get back to finishing up her debut album. She also recently performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival in her hometown, and is gearing up to tour again.
But exhaustion is a price Young is more than willing to pay for the recent success that has caused it. She has collaborated with Kanye West, A-Trakk, and XXXChange (of Spank Rock) to make some attention-getting club rap, like last year's single "Damn Girl." Besides Pitchfork, Young has performed at nearly every big American festival in the past two years, including South by Southwest and Coachella.
"Coachella is out of this world," she says of the treatment she received at the three-day music and arts festival held in the Southern California desert. "They were going to take you to your trailer, and I was like, 'I've been in a trailer home before....' It was kind of tripped out, you know."
Though it wasn't difficult getting used to celebritylike treatment at the nicer gigs, it was hard getting used to touring, says Young. "In terms of hygiene when you travel," she explains, "you definitely have to go on another schedule. There were some adjustments." These adjustments primarily included investing in Febreze and laundry sheets.
A unique aspect of Young's tours, however, is that although she might be far from home, she's rarely far from family. The older sister of J2K, half of the Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus, the two often tour together and collaborate on new material.
"If we notice something we're doing is good, we pat each other on the back, and if we think something we're doing is lame, we're like, 'Yo,'" she says. "We monitor each other."
Young is especially excited to bring her dancey, beat-driven rap to Miami, where she'll be performing for a friend who introduced her to the hip-hop scene in Chicago.
"[My friend] is the one who introduced me basically to, like, raves and party music, and she started taking me to these clubs when I was 13, 14 years old," she says. "So, yeah, 10 years later this is what I'm doing."
With her debut album due out this fall or winter, and more touring that includes Canada and both U.S. coasts, Young surprisingly still holds a job at a children's clothing store in Illinois.
"I haven't worked for like three weeks now, but I don't know what's happening," she says. "I don't know if this is the end-all be-all. I need a little bit of a security blanket."