Kali Uchis: A Colombian Native with a California Sound
The 23-year-old artist is set to release her debut studio album, 'Isolation', on Friday, April 6th.
Before she ever made music of her own, Kali Uchis transformed her upbringing– punctuated by movement and upheaval –into a dreamlike creative style characterized by soothing, warm visuals and sounds. Her unique style echoes the soulful sounds of California (past and present), while never straying too far from her Colombian roots.
Born in Pereira, Colombia, she moved with her family at young age to the United States, where she spent most of her childhood in Alexandria, Virginia. Although Isolation will be the first official studio debut album from the 23-year-old artist, her musical career and creative roots trace back to her time as a high schooler in Virginia. In her teenage years, she did things like artwork, video editing, and photoshoots for other people as a way to maintain a creative outlet, as well as to make some money along the way.
Her decision to finally focus her creative ability inward has definitely paid dividends. Her 2012 mixtape, Drunken Babble (that was produced entirely on GarageBand and posted for free on DatPiff), earned praise across the country, as well gained attention from artists like Tyler, the Creator and Snoop Dogg. As a result, her homespun style earned her an avenue into the spotlight.
“My goal was always for my sound always to be unique and individual to me, not so much as to try to mimic something that’s already been done,” she told Noisey Next in a 2017 interview.
In 2014, Kali Uchis released Por Vida, an EP that cemented her initial impression as an intriguing feminine presence in the industry. Her empowering lyrics flip the script on just about every aspect of relationships and heartbreak; and she delivers her strong, independent attitude on sounds that float like warm evening air through an open window. Her sound is measured and never abrasive. It is sweet with a kind of resilient melancholy that reasserts her confidence and self-love. “And maybe you got a full plate/ Know I’m cooking something better/ But if you don’t want me now/ No, boy, I don’t want you later,” she croons on the Por Vida track, “Loner.”
Since Por Vida, Kali Uchis has appeared on tracks with artists like Tyler, the Creator, Daniel Caesar, and Miguel. She is continually asserting herself as a valuable addition to the modern intersection of R&B and (pop) soul. She also has maintained autonomy in the production of her distinct creative style; she codirects her music videos and does much of her own artwork. Uchis’ versatility as an artist and dedication to her music has developed steadily in the years since Drunken Babble. She has a powerful female presence in the music industry, and she is someone who acknowledges pain and hardship, but continues to live and grow in spite of it all; both as a person and as an artist. It is qualities like her resilience (in combination with her talent) that will continue to propel Uchis’ unique and purposeful career.
The release of her debut studio album, Isolation, is set for Friday, April 6th. Six years have elapsed since her 2012 debut with Drunken Babble, and I think it is safe to say it will have been worth the wait.