The Grammy-nominated singer’s dreamy, soulful vocals belie a life marked by struggle
Kali Uchis isn’t exactly a musical unknown. With Grammy nominations, collaborators such as Gorillaz and funk icon Bootsy Collins, plus Amy Winehouse comparisons aplenty, it’s remarkable that this LA-based singer – real name Karly-Marina Loaiza – is only just releasing her first album.
The genre-weaving artist emerged in 2012 with her laptop-produced mixtape Drunken Babble. Though just 18 years old, Uchis seamlessly blended her delicately powerful voice over hip-hop-infused beats, catching the attention of artists including Tyler, the Creator, Snoop Dogg and Diplo. Her warm, soulful vocals have since featured on a number of impressive releases, including her acclaimed Por Vida EP.
Uchis has experienced more upheaval than her dreamy sound suggests. Born in Virginia, she spent her childhood in Colombia before conflict forced the family to flee back to the US. At 17, an argument with her father led her to live on the streets for months; it was during this time she wrote what eventually became Killer, the closing track of her forthcoming album.
In an interview last year, Uchis noted: “You’re taught that it’s not very likely for you to become successful… that odds are you’re going to be a struggling artist for the rest of your life.” With a soaring, accomplished first album and a worldwide tour in the pipeline, it feels as if the odds are very much in Kali Uchis’s favour.