Kali Uchis loves hanging in trees, and her highlighter of choice is angel tears
Singer, songwriter, and all around artist, Kali Uchis, is also Galore’s newest Summer Bombshell Covergirl!
We are so obsessed with Kali, because she’s an artist that oozes the idea of truly being yourself. The singer is adamant about expressing herself in her own way – and if people don’t like it? She doesn’t care. It just makes her be even more of her unique self.
The singer is only 24 years old, and she’s blown up since she first began putting out music in 2012. She has already worked with some of the biggest names in music, because of her mesmerizing sound, her intense work ethic, and her determination to better the music industry and the world.
We sat down with Kali to discuss her family life, her stage name, her Colombian background, her hands-on way of working, and how she wants to change things for the better through her platform.
Check out the exclusive interview and photoshoot below!
Bra: Vintage, Pants: Laurence + Chico, Earrings, belt, and necklace: Vida Kush, Necklaces: Madame Baloge and Kali’s own, Rings: Kali’s Own, Thong: Nakd x Galore, Glasses: Stylist’s own
Your dad gave you your nickname, Kali Uchis, which eventually became your stage name. Where did he get the nickname from?
My name is Karly-Marina Loaiza, so growing up my family would call me variations of it – Karlucha, Karluchis. My grandma made up all of her kids’ names to be unique so that no one else would have names like theirs.
I always wished my name was more original, too. I guess my dad named me something so basic because he was always embarrassed of his name and wanted me to have a “regular” name. So, when I became an artist, I decided to change my name to something that was still close to my heart, but that was unique to me.
You’re Colombian-American, and you actually used to live between both countries. How has your Colombian background influenced your music?
Colombia is the most inspiring place on the planet. It’s full of magic and strength, and the stories in our music reflect that. Some of the female artists from Colombia who have inspired me are Helenita Vargas, Claudia de Colombia and, of course, Shakira.
I’ve always been extremely proud of my roots, because in my darkest times growing up, being in nature in Colombia, or just in the streets with my cousins, have been some of my most beautiful memories. I am inspired just being there, breathing the air, smelling the rain, and hanging out at the lake across the street from my house.
You have a background in music production and video editing, and you also sing, write, product, direct, and even design clothing. What’s it like having so much experience in almost every field you delve into?
I don’t necessarily have experience, nor do I have the education or training. I just know what I want and have always had a very strong vision. At the end of the day I believe what’s most important is following your intuition and building openly on your visions, while giving yourself the space to evolve.
Pushing yourself to try new things and experiment with mixing all types of styles that inspire you when it comes to anything creative at all. You can’t buy intuition and you can’t teach taste.
Do you think you’re you more hands on than other artists?
I don’t think about anyone else’s process but my own. I’m happy I handle all my business. I prefer it that way because I know what I want. If one day I write something that becomes a massive success, that’s cool. But, either way I’m still proud to have the success I have on my own, because I know how hard this is.
I understand most times it takes a large team of people to produce massive success, but I’m hoping one day the world will see me as I am for my talent and that I won’t need to compromise in order to reach my goals. As for everyone else – as long as it’s not my business, and they aren’t hurting anyone, I don’t care how they run it.
All honest working people deserve to eat.
Top: Dyspnea, Glasses: Stylist’s own, Ring, earrings, and necklace – Kali’s own, Gold Choker – Madame Baloge, Heart Necklace: Vida Kush
You’ve worked with some music greats, including Tyler, The Creator, Gorillaz, Lana Del Rey, and more. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from the people you’ve worked with?
All of the peers I look up to in music have offered me more than I could have ever asked for – without even knowing it – just by working with me. It assures me that I’m going in the right direction, no matter what anyone else says. If self-established legends that you admire and respect want to work with you, what else could you ask for?
A long time ago, I made a promise to myself to never stop being who I am, no matter how hard this journey may get for me. Each of those people has come along in my life, like an angel (and sometimes at some of my weakest moments), and I know it was all for a reason.
You’ve said that you once lived out of your car for weeks on end, because your dad kicked you out. How did your childhood experiences inspire you to be where you are today?
I think it’s important at a young age to realize that nothing belongs to you except for your soul. Everything can be taken away from you at any moment, except your spirit or your ambition. No matter what happens to you or where you are in life, if you are granted the opportunity to see another day, there is always hope.
My life has had so many ups and downs and the most important lesson I ever learned from my childhood is that I am a powerful being all on my own. All on my own, I can create blessings out of thin air and multiply them.
You have said that your dad taught you a lot, though. What has he taught you that you carry into your daily work ethic?
My dad is the hardest working person I know. When he came to America, he only had a third grade education. He didn’t know any English, and he was an immigrant with a dream and nowhere to go. He grew up hungry in the streets as a little kid, and grew up to become the provider for our entire family.
He’s also very compassionate and always took care of other kids and families who needed help or were disadvantaged. He became an entrepreneur and does whatever he wants now, but he still takes pride in caring for community. I carry those morals and that work ethic with me every day in life.
You call yourself a visual artist. Can you explain what that means in your own process?
I am a very sensory person. I am very sensitive to all my senses – smell, sight, audio, touch, and senses that are not in the physical realm. I am inspired and touched by a lot of energy and I love to mix it all – audio with visual, taste with sound, or whatever the case. It makes me feel alive.
Shirt: Slashed by Tia, Necklaces: Vida Kush, Madame Baloge, and Kali’s own, Earrings: Melody Ehsani, Boots: Steve Madden
How would you describe your own music in three words?
Expensive velvet cake.
What is something you want your fans to know about you?
That I love each and every one of them very dearly and want them to be happy.
Bodysuit: Nakd Fashion x Galore, Bustier: Dyspnea, Gloves and glasses: Stylist’s own, Necklaces: Vida Kush, Madame Baloge, and Kali’s own
Can you tell us about the concept behind the “After The Storm,” video that took Twitter actually by storm?
It’s fun! It’s abstract, and I think, though the song touches on serious subject matters, the main focus is to remind you to never give up on yourself. It’s meant to be something feel good.
How do you deal with people who question you and create their own rumors about you?
I abandon and remove all negative, harmful thoughts of myself or of others from my mind. I know who I am, that’s the only thing that matters.
Wings: Mother Plucker, Corset: The Blonds, Necklaces: Vida Kush, House of Emmanuelle, Rings: House of Emmanuelle, Panties: Nakd x Galore
In the future, how do you want to use your platform to help others who may not have the same kind of exposure?
I have lots and lots of plans. The first thing that I have already started is selling my used or unused clothing and donating the money to an account that raises money to provide goods to families who are struggling. Families with single mothers, disabled children, survivors of abuse, or afro-latinx who cannot find good work in Colombia but just need a shot.
There is still a lot of discrimination in the Latin community, and I want to work to bring exposure to that and use my privilege to assist in any ways I can, along with plenty of other work that still needs to be done in the community.
In the United States, there is also a lot of work that needs to be done, especially with a Government who kills/imprisons more Latinx and black people every day, as well as cages our children for being undocumented. I feel very passionately about a lot of things, and I take nothing for granted, because I know how ugly the world can be.
I just want to help in any way possible and also use my platform to raise awareness when I can, while also keeping the balance of my music being a free space where people can escape from the hardships of life.
What awesome life advice do you have for the women reading this article?
You deserve everything you want in life and more, and anyone who tells you differently is a jealous liar.
What makes you feel in touch with yourself?
Playing chess or cards, smelling flowers, and hanging out in trees. I love to be one with the trees every once in a while. It’s good for you.
What’s on your rider?
Cherry lip ointment and fresh seaweed.
What do you have in your closet that you will never give away?
I would give anything in my closet up except a silver locket my dad gave me when I was little. It’s in the shape of a heart and says “Siempre Escucha tu Corazón.”
Upcoming project you’re most excited for?
My upcoming project!
Biggest style inspiration?
Favorite brand right now?
If you had to choose: Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday?
Jazz song that you were obsessed with as a kid?
“Hard Times,” by Dr Buzzard’s.
What highlighter do you use?
The tears of angels.
What’s next for Kali?
Only God knows.
Photography by Jacob DeKat
Creative Direction by Prince Chenoa
Styling by Alexandra Mandelkorn
Hair by Jessi B
Makeup by Jaime Diaz
Cover Art by Lisa Yoo