Oct 17, 2016 4:27PM

Kali Uchis Is The Internet's Pop-Soul Darlin'

Only girl.

Kali Uchis is one of those rare artists who is able to traverse sounds and genres like it ain't no thing. From pop-soul to smooth R&B Kali has it down, an ability that's birthed collabs with people like Tyler, The Creator, Snoop Dogg and The Internet's Steve Lacy.

Kali is a pro at making those old school powerhouse female vibes relevant for the youths of today, and she's only 23! She's also got mad personal style and a down-to-earth attitude that make her a certified legend in our eyes. We caught up with the young star to chat about growing up in Colombia, making woke music and her lady heroes.

Madeleine Woon: What have you been up to today?
Kali Uchis: I just woke up and I'm about to go to the studio.

So you're originally from Colombia, what's the biggest thing you miss about living there?
I miss my family, waking up to the sounds of people yelling about whatever they are selling in the street. I miss buñuelo's and the smell of huevos pericos in the morning. I miss swinging on a swing at the top of a mountain so steep that if I slipped, I would be falling to my death.  

I've read that you feel like there's a lot of misconceptions about Colombia, why do you think that people revert to those stereotypes?
Colombia is such a magical place that I feel everyone should experience. But the list of misconceptions and stigmas from our past keep a lot of close-minded people away from us. Truly, we are an extremely progressive country and have so much more to offer to the world. Just yesterday, the Colombian government and FARC made peace after a 50-year war that cost thousands and thousands of lives, and there were celebrations all over the country. I think that was a positive first step in our nation abandoning the negativity from our past, and creating a brighter image for Colombia's future.

What were you like growing up, and how have you changed?
I have always been introverted, which has translated to people in whatever way their insecurities wanted it to. I used to get my feelings hurt when people misunderstood me, or made things up that weren't true about me, knowing they could get away with it since few people knew me enough to know it wasn't true. Nowadays I don't take any of it personally and I understand everyone is just human. The majority of people think they know you before they meet you and have made their own mind up about who you are. I've learned the only thing that really matters is how I view myself.

I read that, out of all the people you've worked with, Tyler, The Creator has been your favourite. Why is that?
Some people look at music as just a job — I find that very boring, but understand they just want to feed their families. I try to stay away from working with people like that though, and Tyler is so passionate about music; it's really where his heart is and you can feel that when you work with him. That energy is so important when you want to make something real and lasting, rather than a little momentary radio/festival/club bop or whatever people are trying to make these days.  

Out of everyone in the world, who do you think you'd be most star struck meeting? 
The Dalai Lama. I would be very touched to meet someone who helped me be stronger than I ever thought I could be through some of the hardest times of my life growing up.

Who are your biggest influences, musically and outside of music?
I think as a young girl who didn't really have a big sis or mother to talk to, it was really important for me to have female role models that put an emphasis on the importance of having a strong sense of self and intellect. They are Sade, Selena, Astrud Gilberto, Celia Cruz, Erykah Badu, Kelis, Gwen Stefani, Amy, Ladybug Mecca, Lauryn Hill, Toni Braxton, Brandy, Billie Holiday, The Supremes, The Ronettes, The Shangri Las, to name a few.

What's your favourite thing about your job?
It's really nice when people say my music has been impactful in a positive way on their life. Music is a very powerful energy and I think it's our responsibility as artists or public figures on any level to have a positive impact on our world as much as we can.  

I loved your video clip for 'Ridin Round', can you talk us through the meaning behind it?

It was really special and important for me to go to Colombia and make this video with my family. Being able to involve them meant a lot to me personally but also to the song because it's all about my roots.

Photography: Tyler Mitchell

Madeleine Woon