Kali Uchis is instantly recognizable. It isn’t just her beauty—those big, striking eyes and her signature pout. It’s also her raspy, primed-for-ASMR singing voice. It’s her aesthetic, which is infused with distinct notes of an upbringing in the barrios of Colombia and a retro babydoll glam. It all pulls from a certain Amy Winehouse-ian school of thought, one that centers around communicating chronic heartbreak through a tortured, winged-liner female avatar.
The 26-year-old first came onto the scene in 2015 with her debut EP Por Vida. It was distinctly its own sound and vibe, a reggaeton-meets-early 2000’s R&B fusion that felt like riding around on a beach cruiser in East LA with your friends at sunset. That project, as well as 2018’s Isolation, alluded to Uchis’s Latin roots mostly in style. But that all changed in late 2020 when she dropped her predominantly Spanish language album Sin Miedo (Del Amor y Otros Demonios).
Sin Miedo is arguably her best work to date. On it, she experiments with her voice and with genre in a way that can only be described as revelatory. It’s ultra-glam and fully Latina, touching on Latin trap, jazz, even Bolero. The album is a sonic feat, one that was made possible by her decision to sing exclusively in Spanish, which, as she tells us, was extremely discouraged by labels and industry professionals who surrounded her.
But the decision paid off. At the time of writing this, her song “Telepatia” has become a global hit. Each day, the song’s streams nearly double, and it currently sits at #3 on the Spotify Global Chart. It happened organically, on TikTok, with no push from the label, no big-name feature on the track, and no music video. She just won a grammy for her feature on Kaytranada’s song “10%.” It feels as if the underground star has reached a turning point.
To talk about it all, we linked Kali up with her bestie, Omar Apollo, the 23-year-old R&B heartthrob whose dance moves and similar Latino upbringing have made him one of music’s brightest rising stars. Omar and Kali discuss demons, sleep paralysis and Latinx music supremacy.
Read the full interview on office mag