Kali Uchis, Music's Most Glamorous Loner

Kali Uchis makes sweet, lovely music, and she has killer style. The Colombian-Virginian and current L.A. resident has the sultry chops of Amy Winehouse, and an R&B sensibility that has attracted the ears of Diplo, Snoop Dogg, and Tyler the Creator. Before them, the fiercely independent songstress was making music by herself, for herself, and even penned a song, ‘Loner,’ for your inner introvert to listen to when you’re by yourself.

But just as much as her music commands undivided attention, the killer queen’s image is something you can’t ignore – combining pastel cupcake elements with the sirens of old Hollywood, and tying them together with an incredibly chic dosage of her Latin background. Uchis is one of those women who proves that style – like talent – isn’t something you buy–it’s something you’re born with. 

These two standout qualities are especially evident when you see Kali perform live; her most recent performance at the Park Plaza Hotel as part of the RedBull 30 Days in LA festival confirming her rock star status. With everybody on their feet – and even some onstage, courtesy of the musician – Uchis proves that her takeover is just beginning. We sat down with her post-show to talk about her musical start, getting messages from her dad about Snoop, and where to find the best pair of shoes in Los Angeles.

How long have you been making music?

I’ve always made music since I was little, but I decided to start putting it out just cause it was really the only thing that made me happy. 

How did you learn how to produce?

Being alone. I used to be in band when I was little, I used to play saxophone and I was in jazz band so I think that made me more musically inclined, but figuring out samples and stuff was just through playing around on my computer. 

Dream collaborators?

Smokey Robinson would be really cool. I really wanted to work with Bootsy Collins, Mac DeMarco, Rome Fortune, Mos Def! I really want to work with Mos Def so bad, Danger Mouse–MF Doom would be sick.

What’s been your favorite performance?

This was one of the funnest for me because I’ve never brought people on stage before so I was really excited to try that.

Have your parents been supportive of your musical career?

They kind of have learned to accept it. My parents still live in Colombia, so I think they never really understood how seriously I took music. And then my Dad saw me on the news in Colombia they’re in love with Snoop Dogg over there and I have a song with Snoop Dogg. So they did this whole thing on the news, like, “Snoop Dogg likes this singer from here named Kali Uchis” and my dad was watching the TV and saw me come up and that’s when he sent me the video on WhatsApp and he was like, “OMG, you’re on the news out here! Wtf?”

A lot of times they won’t get it until they actually see it.

Especially for foreigners, parents are always like, “Why aren’t you taking advantage of that American education you could be getting?”

We love your fashion sense. Where do you shop?

There’s a lot of things you can find downtown (LA). I get a lot of my shoes from the Playboy store. Like these little frilly ones I’m wearing. They have the best shoes at the Playboy store!

What would be the most ideal setting that you would want people to be listening to your music?  

I guess it depends which song. I feel like music you can listen to when you’re alone is more personal, so it’s more sentimental that way – you know there’s certain songs you can’t really listen to with everybody? Certain songs you just need to be by yourself listening to? I think that’s kind of nice. That’s my favorite music.

Photos by Hadas

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