Kali Uchis Talks Juanes, Colombia & Lana Del Rey Tour
It's shaping up to be a year of firsts for Kali Uchis. In May the Colombian-American singer/songwriter dropped the trance-inducing jam "Tyrant" featuring Jorja Smith, the first single from her upcoming debut studio album. She's undertaken her first-ever headlining tour, a 25-plus-day jaunt that will wind down in Brooklyn on Oct. 21.
On one of her off days, we caught up with the 23-year-old to discuss her reaction to being nominated, her respect for Juanes and his contributions to Colombian music, and her mad respect for future tourmate Lana Del Rey.
Congratulations on your first-ever Latin GRAMMY nomination for "El Ratico" with Juanes. How does "Kali Uchis, Latin GRAMMY nominee" sound to you?
I was psyched. I am so psyched. I guess it really hasn't fully hit me yet. I think the song was No. 1 in Colombia for a really long time and I guess I didn't realize how big it was and how progressive it was seen in all of Latin America. It took me by surprise. I woke up that morning and the news just really made my day.
Are you coming to the 18th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November?
Yeah, I really want to. I'm going to try.
Speaking of "El Ratico," you wrote on your Instagram that you felt "extremely blessed & grateful to have been working this year with some of the most musically influential people to my upbringing." How did Juanes impact you growing up?
Well, Juanes is one of the legendary, iconic Colombian artists. Growing up in Colombia, you can't really not have him on your radar. His songs are everywhere, and there's a statue of him. He's pretty big for Latin America, and for Colombia especially. We're super, super proud of him and everything he's done for our country. Growing up he was just always a part of my life. He was always playing in the house. My mom is like a huge fan. My aunt and uncle went to all his concerts. The first time he reached out to me on Twitter, I was like, "What? Is this the real Juanes?" I didn't even believe it at first. I was like, "Is this for real? Oh wow, he actually knows about me. This is f***ing crazy." This is someone who is like a f***ing legend. In our culture, him and Shakira have done a lot for our country. They've been able to make their legacy so strong and so lasting. Those are the people I look up to. And for Juanes to reach out to me the way he did and be like, "I really believe in you. I think you're going to be big. And I think that you're the great new s*** coming out of Colombia." I'm just so proud and happy for him to want me on his song and to make a video with him. It meant a lot to me and it meant a lot to my family.
Your latest single is "Nuestro Planeta" with reggaeton artist Reykon. What is the status on your debut album?
You know, I don't have an official release date [yet]. I'm just kind of rolling out my singles. "Nuestro" just came out. And then there will be another single coming out.
You're currently on your first headline tour. What's the craziest thing that has happened so far?
(Laughs) The tour has been pretty crazy, I have to say. It's been a blur. It's been testing all of us. We've called it the Curse Of The Kali Uchis tour (laughs). It's just been f***ing mad. The shows and actually meeting everyone have been amazing for me, because I haven't done a tour and I haven't met my fans. And they haven't been able to meet me, touch me, talk to me. I've just been working on my first album forever. It's been, "Work, work, work." And now I'm finally getting a moment to actually go to all these cities. I can't really tell you what the craziest thing has been but it's been pretty wild.
What do you like to do on your off days?
On my off day I really want to just lay in bed. I mean, after literally the fourth day of the tour, I was like, "Wow." There's been so much drama. But the shows have been fun. At the end of the day, you get onstage and nothing else that happened during the day matters.
You'll be heading out on tour with Lana Del Rey in January.
Yeah, I'm very excited. I really respect her as an artist. For me, Lana is a really bomb modern-day artist because she's been able to pave the way for nontraditional — like [she does] whatever the f*** she wants to do. You can say whatever you want about her music. It's not trendy and it doesn't sound like other music on the radio and she's still able to make a way for herself. And she's able to have a huge fan base. And that's why I have a lot of respect for her. She's been able to make her own way. And that's the type of artist that I've always aspired to be: an artist that does their own thing and doesn't try to follow.