Kali Uchis

One time Tyler, The Creator collaborator, Kali Uchis, is our new pastel pin-up girl. We go behind the scenes on her shoot for Wonderland.

Taken from Rollacoaster ‘Time Machine’ SS15.

A vision in pastels, Cali-via Colombia’s Kali Uchis is soul pop’s new killer blow. Her 2013 debut mixtape Drunken Babble was a dark journey into the heart of a crime ridden 60s LA. Uchis’s ace single “Know What I Want” – from her new EP “Por Vida” featuring Tyler, The Creator – fuses her sultry vocal tones with reggae-like dub rhythms. We chat to the 21-year-old soulster who counts Snoop as a fan.

Rollacoaster: What was the inspiration behind the video for “Know What I Want”, which is set in a smoky desert?

Kali Uchis: “Know What I Want” was inspired by Wes Anderson. It’s a self empowerment song about someone trying to take advantage of you. It’s about freedom. Another inspiration was Kelis’s “Caught Out There” video. In that video, she’s really crazy and she’s in a straight jacket. She kills a man and he’s on the ground. I wanted it to be more like that, but they didn’twant it to come off as too aggressive.

R: You’re a big fan of pastel colours. How have you developed your look over time?

KU: As you evolve, you figure out what looks good on you, your own complexion. Pastel shades also complement the music in terms of it being calm and mellow. All Colombians have hair down to their asses that’s shaped like an arrow: it’s a uniform.

R: You’ve been described by Vogue as being worthy of a Motown B-side.What are your musical influences?

KU: A lot of 60s and 70s soul – that’s the type of stuff I like to sample.

R: Loyalty and kinship are some of the predominant themes in your lyrics. Does trust mean as much to you as you let on?

KU: I feel as though it has become trendy to not be associated emotionally with people. Within music and culture, it has become cool to not care, to be less submissive to people. If you look back, it was the thing to give your all, to be like, “I love you, I’m here for you, I’ll lay myself down on the tracks for you.” I love the passion. That’s what people are like in Colombia; they’re very passionate.

R: You’ve said that living in California is like living in Colombia with less threats. What do you love about the two places?

KU: I love the architecture; it has got so much character. When I went to LA for the first time, I was like, “Wow, everything’s so colourful”. In Colombia every building has a story, and so do the plants and the bugs. The butterflies are huge and colourful. It’s like a cartoon, everything has so much life to it.

R: We hear Snoop’s a fan.

KU: I didn’t understand why he reached out to me. He’s really down to earth, and he’s very attached to similar cultures. It was cool to have someone who’s a legend say to me, “This is cool, and no one’s doing what you’re doing.”

R: You’ve mentioned thrift shopping as one of your hobbies. What do you like about it?

KU: I love thrift shopping, because it’s nice to make things your own. In Virginia there’s one mall in the area, so when I was going to school, everyone was wearing the same shit. It was exhausting. You know when you go to a party and everyone’s wearing the same shit?

R: You’ve just released an EP called “Por Vida”, featuring Tyler, The Creator.

KU: Yeah, it has come out with Pitchfork, and Tyler did the production on two of the songs. It’s in the same direction as the mixtape I did when I was 19. I’d never made studiorecorded music before. “Por vida” means “for life”, and it starts in a very loving and welcoming place. The intro is asking someone to give you a chance.

Words: Elinor Sigman


Kali Uchis

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