Music

Kali Uchis Talks Breakthrough Year With “Telepatía” & Her Billboard Latin Music Award Nominations

Kali Uchis is rounding out her breakthrough year with seven nominations at this week’s Billboard Latin Music Awards. The Colombian-American artist turned into a global superstar thanks to the success of “Telepatía.” In an exclusive interview ahead of the Billboard Latin Music Awards, Uchis talked about fighting for the vision of her first Latin album, seeing her music accepted by her Latino and LGBTQ+ communities, and her upcoming tour with Tyler, the Creator.

Kali Uchis has one of the best-selling Latin songs and albums of the year.

Uchis spent the past decade becoming an alternative music star with EPs and debut album, 2018’s Isolation. After going viral on TikTok with “Telepatía” this year, she found a wider audience that embraced her Spanish album Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios). The LP was certified Platinum in the U.S. Now Uchis is up for seven Billboard Latin Music Awards this year, including Hot Latin Song of the Year for “Telepatía” and Latin Pop Album of the Year for Sin Miedo.

“I was so surprised!” Uchis tells mitú about her nominations. “I’m super grateful, shocked, and happy. For me, this album was a passion project. I did this because that was always my dream: for my second album to be in Spanish. It’s such a huge part of my identity, not just as an artist, but as a human being. Being Colombian-American has shaped so much of my experience as a person.”

Kali Uchis had to fight for “Telepatía” to reflect her vision as an artist.

Uchis will find out if she wins any of her awards when the Billboard Latin Music Awards airs this Thursday, Sept. 23 on Telemundo. From the staggering success of “Telepatía,” the odds look to be in her favor. She became the first female artist in a decade to top Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart without a featured act. The song impressively peaked at No. 25 on the all-genre Hot 100 chart. Uchis reveals that she had to fight to keep her alternative R&B sound on “Telepatía.”

“I never expected ‘Telepatía’ to be a single,” Uchis says. “Let alone this global sensation that it ended up being and I’m so grateful to be able to open up doors for other Latinas. To show that we can do it without a feature and without something that typically sounds like a commercial Latin song. There was always a pressure for ‘Telepatía’ to put different types of drums on it. I’m really happy and proud that I never compromised with my vision for the music or for the project.”

Kali Uchis was happy to “Telepatía” embraced by the LGBTQ+ community.

Uchis is openly bisexual. Not only did “Telepatía” make an impact with Latino audiences, but song also became an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community. Earlier this year, RuPaul’s Drag Race favorite Denali uploaded her lip sync of the song to YouTube. “Have had this song on repeat since it came out and it’s such an honor to promote for more queer Latinx queens,” Denali wrote about her lip-sync video.

“Something I’ve been happy for since the beginning of my career is that like-minded people have always been drawn to my music and my being,” Uchis says. “I have a lot of empowered women and LGBTQ+ people. I’ve always been really grateful that people who I would be cool with in real life are the type of people who are my audience. I’ve always been really happy to be accepted in my communities, whatever community that may be, the Latin community, the LGBTQ+ community. ‘Telepatía’ being such a big song in regards to both communities was so special for me.”

Next year Kali Uchis will go on tour with Tyler, the Creator.

Before last year’s global lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic, Uchis had her Sin Miedo Tour ready to visit countries in Latin America like Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. She had to cancel the tour when the lockdown went into effect. Next year fans will be able to see Uchis live on Tyler, the Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost Tour. Those two have a history of collaborations together.

“Since I’m not doing my Latin tour, I was like, ‘This is great for me. This is perfect for me,'” Uchis says. “Tyler is someone that I’ve known forever. I’m comfortable with him. It’s stadiums and arenas, so I can project my tour in a way bigger way and give my fans something really special. I’m doing a full set. I’m giving it my all as if it was my own tour.”

Kali Uchis won her first Grammy this year with Kaytranada.

In March, Uchis won her first Grammy Award. She took home Best Dance Recording for collaborating with Haitian-Canadian producer Kaytranada on his song “10%.”

“I was so shocked,” she recalls. “I was so surprised. I never thought that we were going to win it. I’m such an underdog that when I get recognition and these types of accolades, it’s a humbling feeling for me. Kaytra produced the whole track obviously, but I wrote all the words, all the melodies, and it’s my voice on the song, so that was really special to me. I’m so proud.”

Kali Uchis is “almost done” with her next album.

Uchis is expanding her brand. Last week, she launched her first fashion collection of jeans called Obsesión. There’s booty-lifting technology in the jeans that was developed in Colombia. Uchis also reveals that her third album is “almost done.”

“It’s still a lot of Spanglish, but it’s predominantly English,” Uchis says. “My plans are to go back and forth. Make an English album, make a Spanish album, and not limit myself to just one language ever. It’s definitely the body of work that I’m most proud of.”

Read: Kali Uchis Did a Cover of Selena Quintanilla’s “Si Una Vez” and It’s Beautiful

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