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Kali Uchis 

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Kali Uchis On What It Means To Be A Latin "Crossover" Star In The 21st Century

Kali Uchis also discusses her first GRAMMY win with Kaytranada and her upcoming Spanish-language collaboration with SZA

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2021 - 02:21 am

Kali Uchis still remembers the reactions she would get when she was crafting her first Spanish-language record, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios), which was released late last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "You're going backward in your career doing this. This isn't going to get supported," she would hear. “Well, this is what I want to do,” the Colombian-American singer would answer. That album, a body of work that captures her isolation and is a cross-pollination between haunting boleros, downtempo trip-hop, and a splash of reggaeton, ended up landing on the Billboard 200 and received glowing reviews around the web. "I really just make music for the love of it, not for the same reasons that others would," Uchis tells GRAMMY.com over the phone as she’s about to board a boat in Miami. “A lot of people just look at it as a business.”

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Going against the grain is exactly what Karly-Marina Loaiza has always done. (At one point, her unwavering determination to her art, and self, led her to live in her car during her teens.) Sticking to her guns is finally reaping the rewards, especially now that Latin music is consumed on a global scale and continues to become one of the fastest-rising genres in the U.S. Yet, while Latin music has been increasingly dominating mainstream airwaves worldwide—most notably since reggaeton's second explosion in the mid-'10s—Uchis is among the few successful crossover stars who didn't have to conform to the demanding and dominating rhythms of reggaeton. She's been helping forge her path, leading a new rising Latin R&B scene alongside other bilingual luminaries like Omar Apollo and Paloma Mami.

Recently, she achieved a major accomplishment in the music industry: her first GRAMMY for her song "10%" with Kaytranada. From here, Uchis can only go higher. Her latest music video "Telepatía" has already garnered nearly 20 million views in just two weeks since its release. The R&B singer is planning to hit the road again this fall and also has a collaboration with SZA underway: "I really admire her as a woman, as a creator and as a writer, so I was honored to help segue her into her first song singing in Spanish," she says. 

Just as her songs can easily tap into the depths of human emotion, with equal parts soul and grit, the 26-year-old star candidly reflects on her career with a social and critical lens. Chill yet assertive, Kali Uchis taps into racial and gender politics, all while redefining what it means to be a Latin "crossover" star in the 21st Century.  

Hi Kali! First of all, congratulations on your first GRAMMY win. When your name was announced, what went through your head?

I was in Mexico filming a commercial, and Jenn Nkiru who was directing it also won a GRAMMY for directing the Beyoncé video ["Brown Skin Girl."] We both found out that we won a short time between each other, and we were both freaking out. She went to the other room to go do a thank you speech, and I didn't really take it in because I had to be on camera. But I so couldn't focus while on set because I was like, "Oh my god, we won a GRAMMY." I need to get on my phone, make a post and thank everybody.

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On your video for "Telepatía," viewers see you in Pereida, Colombia. What would you like your fans to see or know about the place of your heritage?

Since the first day that I came up with the name Kali Uchis, I was in Colombia. I have a home there, too. My first years of education were in Pereida. I spent a lot of time there going back and forth. I left to be able to have both worlds, and that's how I've lived my whole life. For me, it was always really important to represent. That's why a lot of my first videos take place there, in the streets that I played in when I was a little kid. It’s really about never forgetting where you come from.  

Everybody there [in Colombia] is so proud of me and the kids are always so happy that I'm there. At the end of the day, I feel so loved and supported by my community. That's what my dream has always been. Anybody who knows me knows I'm so proud of both of my homes [the U.S. and Colombia], and growing up that way is what contributed to a lot of who I am as a person and as an artist, the way that I see the world, and the way that I listen to music. No matter where you come from and who you are, as long as you keep working and stay true to yourself, you'll get where you want to go. 

Your parents are Colombian, you were born in Virginia and are an L.A. resident. Describe your personal connection with these places.    

There’s just so much that comes with being multicultural. I feel love for the DMV area because that's where I'm from, northern [Virginia.] When I lived there, I never really felt embraced. I always felt like people were always like, "Oh, you're not from here. You don't dress like you're from here. Your music doesn't sound like you're from here." When I was really little, we lived in an area called Chirilagua, where there’s a large Latin community. It's pretty much all Salvadorians. I love Salvadorians, and I love the Latin community there. At the end of the day, all I ever really wanted was to show love to my community and receive that love in return. It's a beautiful thing to be accepted by people in general. 

Moving to L.A., I felt very accepted and loved. L.A. is also my home. When I go to Colombia, I feel the same thing. And when it came to VA, I never fully felt that way, like I didn't belong there as much. I think that was what made it difficult to grow as an artist there and the main reason why I left. Aside from the fact that I really don't have many family members there either. My parents live in Colombia. I think it's a situation of "go where you're loved, go where you're supported." That's what I always tell everybody, no matter where you come from or who you are, just go where you're loved and supported, and try to represent where you come from the best you can. It's really complicated, and it's really interesting.

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How has that transmigrational experience played a role in your musical development? 

I feel like it’s what contributed to people looking at me as a niche artist, or even me looking at myself as a niche artist. I’m okay with that. I feel like part of being a niche artist is that you can't be categorized from one place, yet somehow that makes it harder to market artists. In my case, it was like, "Where is she from? She's from here, but she's also from there." It’s just more things that contribute to you not being able to be boxed into one category. Even some people now will be like, "Colombian-American, what does that even mean?" A lot of people still don't even understand what it means to be a dual citizen. For some reason, they just can't grasp how someone could have two homes, or two cultures, or more than two [nationalities]. I think that has been a blessing and a curse for me. It goes both ways, but I also wouldn't have it any other way.

It certainly brings some challenging layers, especially when one’s developing their identity, but I believe it makes creative growth more enriching. 

Yeah, not just as artists, but as human beings. I think the most important thing is to figure out and know who you are, and not let society [determine that]. Just the idea of borders and of people obsessing with one's nationality is a very strange societal norm. Don't ever limit yourself based on those things.

In your last video, we also see you portrayed as a retro Hollywood chanteuse and then a little more Latin-styled with a sultry edgy. Who are your fashion and style icons? 

Most of my life I have been inspired by not being able to be defined or confined to only one style. For me, being versatile, experimenting with genres, with style and never identifying as one [singular] look or anything. That's what really helped me make my life of creation fun and worthwhile—experimenting. Otherwise, you end up limiting yourself when you do one thing. In general, I'm a very nostalgic person. I love to mix futuristic things sometimes. I love the ‘90s, and I also love the ‘60s and ‘70s. Women being expressive with their sexuality, women being tomboys. 

I think gender identity and gender norms are another way that people try to restrict and confine us. I definitely had my own personal experiences with coming into my femininity and understanding what femininity was for me. Even now as an adult, I'm still realizing like, okay, I don't always have to be so glam in order to feel like me. Or, I don't have to have my identity attached to this certain brand to make me more comfortable. I'm trying to wear less makeup and just play with different styles and stuff. Just experimenting.

Thinking now as an adult, I realize that certain things in the ‘90s were actually appropriation. For instance, I never realized a certain hairstyle was called bantu knots, and that it came from an African tribe. Growing up in the ‘90s, you just saw No Doubt’s [Gwen Stefani] and Björk wearing these hairstyles and later realized that they were taking it from Black women. I think that's something that you have to be careful about, when you look at some of these older ‘90s styles, a lot of it is appropriation. Become more aware of that, and learn more about where things actually come from. That’s the most important thing to do when it comes to style. Educate yourself about what you're wearing.

On Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)—meaning Without Fear (of Love and Other Demons)—what does the title represent to you?

Sin Mideo was a phrase that pushed me to never [live life without fear]. I feel like everybody should live life without fear. We only have one life. You shouldn't live it for anybody else. You should do what makes you happy. As long as you're not hurting anybody else, you should do what feels good for you and be who you want to be, whatever that is. Sin Miedo also captured the essence of isolation. All of my songs come from my own personal experiences. So when I made the album, I was thinking, "What type of state of mind was I in when I made all this music?" Isolated. I was literally not talking to anybody. I didn't have any friends around me. I was living by myself in this L.A. apartment, very lonely and separate. It's something my aunt used to always say to me growing up, "Sin Miedo, sin miedo." My first tattoo was also "Sin Miedo. Sin Miedo is really a state of mind. I think the most important thing as an artist is to never lose your mind and vision, and as a human, to never lose your soul.

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Collage image featuring photos of (from left) Maka, La Plazuela, Mëstiza, María José Llergo, C. Tangana, Queralt Lahoz
(From left): Maka, La Plazuela, Mëstiza, María José Llergo, C. Tangana, Queralt Lahoz

Photos: Atilano Garcia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Ricardo Rubio/Europa Press via Getty Images; Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images; PABLO GALLARDO/REDFERNS; Aldara Zarraoa/WireImage; Mario Wurzburger/WireImage

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6 Artists Reimagining Flamenco For A New Generation: María José Llergo, C. Tangana, Mëstiza & More

Contemporary artists like La Plazuela, Queralt Lahoz, and Maka are transforming flamenco by blending traditional roots with innovative sounds and global influences.

GRAMMYs/Apr 22, 2024 - 03:24 pm

Flamenco is undergoing a sweeping transformation. Propelled not by a single artist, but by a wave of creative talents, a new generation of artists are injecting fresh life into this storied genre. 

Six years after Rosalía's 2018 release, El Mal Querer, catalyzed a wider renaissance in the flamenco world with an approach inspired by the legendary Romani flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla a new wave of artists are rushing in to redefine the landmark Latin sound.  

A new generation of Spanish musicians draw deep inspiration from flamenco's rich traditions while redefining its contemporary form. Rooted in the flamenco traditions cherished by their ancestors, today's artists are innovating this heritage with a new set of sensibilities. Flamenco itself, with its diverse array of styles or palos, offers a unique medium of expression, characterized by distinctive rhythmic patterns, melody and emotional intensity. 

Discover the vibrant future of flamenco through the innovative works of trailblazers like La Plazuela, Queralt Lahoz, Mëstiza, C. Tangana, Maka, and María José Llergo. From Maka's trap-fueled infusions of reggaeton to Lahoz's innovations on traditional guitar-playing techniques, each of these artists, with their unique contemporary take on traditional styles, is reimagining flamenco and captivating audiences around the world. 

La Plazuela

La Plazuela duo Manuel Hidalgo and Luis Abril are both from Albaicín in the Andalusian city of Granada. It's a district infused with rich cultural history, where steep, winding streets are bursting with art and the sounds of flamenco. 

La Plazuela soaks the rhythms of flamenco in a distinctively sunny sound, forgoing the woeful connotations of the genre to explore new, optimistic possibilities. On their new song "Alegrías De La Ragua" the pair teamed up with flamenco singer David de Jacoba and electro producer Texture. The track is an ode to the sugar cane fields of Andalusia, highlighting the region’s agricultural importance and intrinsic relationship with the land — distinctly Granada both in sound and story.

Queralt Lahoz

Born in Barcelona to an Anducian family, Queralt Lahoz was raised on the sounds of flamenco at home where her Granada-born grandmother immersed her in the musical traditions of southern Spain. 

While her soulful, urban style deeply resonates with flamenco, Lahoz has stressed that she is not a purist of the genre and enjoys experimenting with different styles. Stripped back, brutally honest and direct, tracks like "De La Cueva a Los Olivos" is a multifaceted track that opens with rasgueado (percussive guitar technique integral to flamenco) that evolves into a brassy, jazzy chorus, and even includes a rap verse. She cites late flamenco great La Niña de los Peines alongside Wu-Tang Clan among her influences — a testament to her love of musical diversity. 

Mëstiza

Mëstiza envisioned flamenco for the nightclub: The DJ duo Pitty Bernad and Belah were already hot names in the Spanish club scene before they combined forces.  

Pitty hails from the southern region Castilla-La Mancha, and Belah from neighboring Andalucia. The two met in the Madrid DJ scene and shared a love for electronic music steeped in folkloric tradition. They are behind legendary Spanish club night Sacro, an immersive audiovisual experience rooted in ritualistic Spanish folklore. The duo has plans to bring their unique Sacro sound across the globe soon with to-be-announced performances planned for Europe, Asia, and the United States. 

C. Tangana

C. Tangana (full name Antón Álvarez) co-wrote eight songs on former flame Rosalía's El Mal Querer and demonstrates his dexterity and vision in the sounds of flamenco on his 2020 release, El Madrileño. The album explores regional sounds from across Spain and Latin America, employing the finest artists from these genres as collaborators. 

The album's first single, "Tú Me Dejaste De Querer" features flamenco stars Niño de Elche and La Húngara singing in the chorus between Álvarez’s rapped verses. Alvaréz’s tour of the album was based on a typical Spanish sobremesa (post-dinner conversation), with bottles of wine placed on a long table set with tapas, elbow-to-elbow with fellow musicians who clap palmas flamencas, play guitar, and provide backing vocals. El Madrileño earned three Latin GRAMMYs in 2021 and The Tiny Desk performance of the album is among the series’ most-watched concerts

Maka

Granada-born Maka has been a pioneer in viewing flamenco through an urban lens. A versatile artist, he is both a skilled rapper and prolific singer/songwriter. In his 2014 release, Pna, Maka combined flamenco singing (canté) over hip-hop beats ("La Dirty Flamenca") and reversed the formula to rap over flamenco rhythms ("Vividor").  

Maka returned to flex his mastery in flamenco in his 2021 album, Detrás de Esta Pinta Hay un Flamenco, which pays homage to the melodic pop-flamenco bands of the 1980s and 1990s with a throwback feel. His latest 2024 single "Amor Ciego'' combines a reggaeton beat with flamenco vocal embellishments, calling back to many of his early reggaeton and trap-fueled releases. 

María José Llergo 

María José Llergo released her debut album Ultrabelleza last October to critical acclaim, sparking an upcoming U.S. tour. As a trained flamenco vocalist, she graduated from the prestigious Escuela Superior de Música de Cataluña (Rosalía is a fellow alum.)

Llergo grew up in the small town of Pozoblanco, on the outskirts of the Andalusian city, Cordoba. Her grandfather, a vegetable farmer, taught Llergo flamenco from a young age, singing with her as he worked the land. 

Llergo’s music combines flamenco with the sounds of nature, reimagined synthetically through electronic experimentation that results in lush, immersive soundscapes. "I turn like the moon in the sky... If I stop moving, I’ll die", she sings in Spanish on the track "Rueda, Rueda," contemplating the rhythm of life. Her lyrics are deeply poetic and metaphorical, tying place to emotion, and nature to feeling. 

María José Llergo On Her Debut Album 'Ultrabelleza,' Her Upcoming US Tour & Flamenco As A Cultural Bridge

La Santa Cecilia poses for a photo together in front of a step and repeat at the GRAMMY Museum
La Santa Cecilia

Photo: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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La Santa Cecilia Celebrates Their 'Alma Bohemia' With Documentary Screening & Performance At The GRAMMY Museum

In a documentary screening detailing the making of their album 'Cuatro Copas' followed by a discussion and live performance at the GRAMMY Museum, La Santa Cecilia recounts years of making music and friendship.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 06:32 pm

"Oh no, I’m going to start crying again," says La Santa Cecilia singer La Marisoul during a touching scene in Alma Bohemia, the documentary directed by Carlos Pérez honoring the Los Angeles band’s 15 year anniversary. 

As it turns out, there are many reasons to be emotional about this film — and the very existence of La Santa Cecilia in the contemporary Latin music landscape. Fittingly, Alma Bohemia was received enthusiastically by the capacity audience during an exclusive screening on April 3 at the GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater in Los Angeles. 

Formed by La Marisoul (real name is Marisol Hernández), bassist Alex Bendaña, accordionist and requinto player José "Pepe" Carlos and percussionist Miguel "Oso" Ramírez, La Santa Cecilia was for years one of the best kept secrets in the Los Angeles music scene.  As close friends and musicians, they won over audiences with an organic, down-to-earth sound and a lovely songbook that draws from traditional formats such as bolero, ranchera and nueva canción.

Alma Bohemia follows the making of La Santa’s 2023 album, Cuatro Copas Bohemia en la Finca Altozano. A celebration of the band’s longevity, the session also functions as a subtle, yet powerful musical experiment. It was recorded at the Finca Altozano in Baja California, where the band members stayed as guests of celebrated chef Javier Plascencia — a longtime fan.

Argentine producer Sebastián Krys — the band’s longtime collaborator — calls this his Alan Lomax experiment. The album was recorded live on tape with a variety of strategically placed microphones capturing hints of ambient sonics — a sweet afternoon breeze, the clinking of glasses, the musicians’ banter, the soft sounds that accompany stillness. 

From the very beginning, the making of Cuatro Copas mirrors the band’s bohemian cosmovision: A communal approach where the quartet — together with carefully selected guest stars — get together to share the magic of creation, the unity of like-minded souls, homemade food, and more than a couple of drinks. In effect, the bottles of mezcal and never ending rounds of toasting quickly become a running joke throughout the documentary.

La Marisoul’s fragile lament is enveloped in spiraling lines of mournful electric guitars with soulful understatement on the track "Almohada." Guest artists liven things up, with Oaxacan sister duo Dueto Dos Rosas adding urgency to "Pescadores de Ensenada," while son jarocho master Patricio Hidalgo ventures into a lilting (yet hopeful) "Yo Vengo A Ofrecer Mi Corazón," the ‘90s Argentine rock anthem by Fito Páez.

Visibly delighted to be part of the bohemia, 60-year-old ranchera diva Aida Cuevas steals the show with her rousing rendition of "Cuatro Copas," the José Alfredo Jiménez classic. "Viva México!" she exclaims as the entire group sits around a bonfire at night, forging the past and future of Mexican American music into one.

Read more: La Santa Cecilia Perform "Someday, Someday New"

Following the screening, the band sat down for a Q&A session hosted by journalist Betto Arcos. Sitting on the first row, a visibly moved young woman from El Salvador thanked the band for helping her to cope with the complex web of feelings entailed in migrating from Latin America. La Santa’s songs, she said, reminded her of the loving abuelita who stayed behind.

"We love the old boleros and rancheras," said La Marisoul. "We became musicians by playing many of those songs in small clubs and quinceañeras. It’s a repertoire that we love, and I don’t think that will ever change."

Carlos touched on his experience being a member of Santa Cecilia for about seven years before he was able to secure legal status in the U.S. When the band started to get concert bookings in Texas, they would take long detours on their drives to avoid the possibility of being stopped by the authorities. Carlos thanked his wife Ana for the emotional support she provided during those difficult years.

Ramírez took the opportunity to acknowledge producer Krys for being an early champion of the band. "He had a vision, and he made us better," he said, flashing forward to a recent edition of the Vive Latino festival. "There were about 12,000 people to see us," he said. "And they were singing along to our tunes."

"The band is just an excuse to hang out with your friends," added La Marisoul just before La Santa performed two live songs. Her voice sounded luminous and defiant in the theater’s intimate space, always the protagonist in the group’s delicately layered arrangements.

"The first time I got to see the finished documentary, I felt proud of all the work we’ve done together," said producer Krys from his Los Angeles studio the day after the screening. "On the other hand, there’s a lot of work ahead of us. I believe La Santa Cecilia deserves wider exposure. They should be up there among the greatest artists in Latin music."

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Genia Press Play Hero
Genia (right) performs for Press Play.

Photo: Courtesy of Genia

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Press Play: Watch Genia Narrate The Pain Of Heartbreak In This Raw Performance Of "Dear Life"

R&B singer Genia offers an acoustic rendition of "Dear Life," one of the singles from her forthcoming mixtape, '4 AM In The Ville,' out April 19 via Def Jam.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 05:00 pm

On "Dear Life," R&B singer Genia pens a farewell letter to her lover — while simultaneously reflecting on how the intense saga crumbled her.

"I can't take anymore/ Put my pride aside, thought you could save me," she cries in the first verse. "These days, I don't know what I need/ You destroy me from the inside out/ If I go off the deep end/ You'll be sure not to bring me back."

In this episode of Press Play, watch Genia deliver a stripped-down performance of the vulnerable track alongside her guitarist.

The California native released "Dear Life" on Nov. 10, via Def Jam Recordings. She has also dropped three more singles — "Like That," "Know!," and "Let Me Wander" — leading up to her sophomore mixtape, 4 AM In The Ville, on April 19. 4 AM is a sequel to her debut, 4 PM In The Ville; both projects are inspired by Genia's experience of growing up in Victorville, California.

""[The songs] explore the different stages of grief in a relationship," she revealed in an interview with Urban Magazine. "The second tape is really me touching on falling in love, betrayal, anger, and rape."

Watch the video above to hear Genia's acoustic performance of "Dear Life," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

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Kali Uchis
Kali Uchis

Photo: COUGHS

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Kali Uchis On Her Road To 'Orquídeas': How A Bicultural Mindset, Working Alone & Embracing Her "Bitchier Side" Resulted In Her Most Energetic Album

"I have so much creativity that I need to express all the time," Kali Uchis says of her latest release, 'Orquídeas.' Uchis' fourth studio album is also her second Spanish-language record.

GRAMMYs/Jan 12, 2024 - 03:05 pm

Kali Uchis is experiencing one of her most creatively prolific moments. For the first time, the GRAMMY-winning singer delights her fans with two long-play projects in less than a year: Red Moon in Venus and Orquídeas, the latter out Jan. 12. 

Described by Uchis as her most energetic body of work, Orquídeas is her second Spanish language record and a showcase of Uchis' vocal and musical growth. While Uchis' recent releases typically contrast her soothing vocals with hypnotic, mid-tempo R&B and hip-hop instrumentals, her fourth studio album exists in a distinctly different musical environment.

The 14-track, dance-centric album incorporates a breadth of Latin rhythms with a global influence: Dembow, salsa, hard-hitting merengue, reggaetón, Cuban son, and Latin soul appear alongside alternative, house, and even bolero. Orquídeas' first two tracks, ​​"Como así" and "Me Pongo Loca," set the tone for Uchis diving into house beats. On "Igual Que Un Angel," Uchis pulls Peso Pluma away from his corridos tumbados and into her dance world.

"I feel like others see Latin music or Latin artists as just one thing. That's why I need to demonstrate all the different genres of Latin music," Uchis tells GRAMMY.com. "As an artist, it's always important to push myself to do new things and try different genres. Being bicultural has always been part of my life." 

Expanding the bounds of her creativity has long been part of Uchis' vocabulary. Since releasing her first mixtape, 2012's Drunken Babble, Uchis' career and sound have been characterized by taking chances. Even before she dreamed of being a singer, the artist born Karly-Marina Loaiza defied expectations and dared to be the first in her family to pursue music. The Colombian American singer lived in her car and moved from Virginia to Los Angeles alone, all the while remaining fearless in the dogged pursuit of her dream.

Uchis says following her instinct has long been a vital part of her success. Uchis defended her creative decisions on her first Spanish-language album, 2020's Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otro Demonios), which her record label at the time thought risky. In fact, the most played single from the album, "Telepatía," was on the verge of not being part of the album after the label suggested production changes to make it more radio friendly. 

"I’d rather not go to radio than change my song," she told the New York Times. The single came out as she had imagined; her vision translated into billions of views, driven by virality achieved on TikTok.

The risk-taking didn't stop on Orquídeas, which sees Uchis exploring dance music and a wider variety of Latin music. The singer tells GRAMMY.com that "Labios Mordidos," the album's third single and a duet with Karol G, was one of Orquídeas' biggest risks. 

"I had a reggaetón/perreo song on Isolation, but it didn't do well; it's called 'Nuestro Planeta.' [Doing 'Labios Mordidos'] was definitely a risk; I mean, the whole album is really a risk because it's not one genre; it's a mix of so many different things, and it's not what people are used to hearing from me," she adds. 

Released on Nov. 24, "Labios Mordidos" debuted at No. 75 on Spotify's Global Top Songs charts. Since, it has accumulated over 54 million streams on Spotify and YouTube combined.

Orquídeas also represents Uchis' growth in songwriting; the singer says her storytelling abilities flourished on this album. She also gets incredibly vulnerable: On the melancholic bolero "Te Mata," Uchis mined her childhood experiences of survival and being kicked out of the house as a teenager. 

"I had to get even tougher skin. I had to learn to put myself and my happiness first. It meant a lot for me to write, and I hope it helps anyone else going [through] it find some self-power or some peace," she said in a TikTok video. 

"I love boleros," Uchis says of "Te Mata." "Romantic music, in general, has always fascinated me, as it can feel so timeless. It was a great opportunity to explore this genre and showcase my ability to tell stories in different ways."

Uchis honed her intuition writing alone, creating the entirety of her first EP in her bedroom. Solitude was her best ally in the creative process, she reflects. "[By working alone] I get a lot of my essence in music, which I feel is what people can really take away from it. That's why people listen to [my music]," says Uchis.

For Sin Miedo, Uchis worked with a group of composers who helped her clear up Spanish verbiage doubts and grammatical issues. "I didn't feel completely confident about my writing yet to make fully Spanish songs; that's why I write so much bilingual," Uchis explains.

While Uchis thought the experience cool, she has since moved on. When it came to writing  Orquídeas, "I feel like I didn't need the help; I was using [the process] to better myself, improve my writing, and be open to learning more about different writing processes. I felt ready. 

Just a few months after releasing Sin Miedo in 2021, Uchis embarked on the production of Red Moon in Venus and Orquídeas. For some, carrying out two productions in parallel — creating two different concepts while writing songs in two languages — may seem challenging. For Uchis, it was the perfect setting to expand her creativity.

"It's really easy to work that way because I feel like I have so much creativity that I need to express all the time. It's a little difficult for me to commit to just one sound, project, and language at this stage of my life," Uchis reflects.

Red Moon and Orquídeas are polar opposites, Uchis explains. In her 2023 album, she explores her "higher self, speaking [more] from a place of love; everything is about love. [Orquídeas] is like my bitchier side," the singer told the Brazilian YouTube channel Foquinha.

Kali Uchis’s Road To ‘Orquídeas’ tracklisting

The freedom to express oneself, challenge genres, and forge a unique career path is a virtue Uchis has maintained throughout her productions and collaborations. She has never allowed the pressure to be mainstream to influence how she approaches her art. 

"I've always had the freedom to do what I want. I don't do music [for the numbers]; I never feel pressure," she says. "I do this because it's my creative outlet. Whether I get more mainstream or more success, those are nice things. I'm proud of my accomplishments, but I don't think life should revolve around [the idea] of trying to be the most accomplished, the most successful."

Although Uchis does not lose any sleep over topping popular charts, her albums have done just that. With Isolation, she broke into the Billboard 200 chart, and Sin Miedo led Billboard's Latin Pop chart. In 2021, Uchis won her first GRAMMY for "10%" in the Best Dance Recording category, collaborating with KAYTRANADA.

Released in March 2023, Red Moon in Venus placed fifth on the Billboard 200 chart and was named by TIME magazine as 2023’s album of the year. To add to her success, the Colombian American singer finished the year as one of the most listened-to Latin female artists on Spotify, a distinction she shares with Karol G, Shakira, Rosalía, and Ana Castela.

2024 promises to be equally successful for Kali Uchis; the singer told GRAMMY.com that Orquídeas will be one of two albums she will release this year. That record will be a return to form, Uchis promises. (And she just revealed that she is pregnant, in her music video for “Tu Corazón Es Mío” and “Diosa.”)

"I have another project coming this year, completely different from Orquídeas. I did the whole thing in my house, alone, and never sat in a room with anybody. It's nice to go back to my roots," she says.

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