“I’m at a point in my life where I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anybody anymore," says the singer. "I'm growing every year."
Kali Uchis
Credit: Deanie Chen

On Sunday, Kali Uchis gave her last festival performance of the year as a headliner at Tropicália, a two-day event that included a predominantly Latinx lineup of artists across different genres. “I feel super blessed and grateful to be here,” the Colombian American tells People CHICA ahead of her performance. “I'm hoping to do a good job and prepare myself to eventually headline more festivals in the future.” She's headlined every Tropicália festival so far, but the Sunday show was only her second time incorporating dancers into her act. “I got nervous for the first time in a long time [at] my last show because it was my first time ever incorporating dancers,” she explains. “So I might get a little nervous before this one, but once I get comfortable I'll be OK. Experimenting with different performance styles is a new transition for me.”

Something that Kali isn't nervous for is 2020. She's looking forward to the next stage in her life, which will include being able to share her first Spanish-language project with the world. “For my next album, I'm really going back to my roots, experimenting more with my music, not thinking so hard and not trying so hard — just free-flowing,” she says. The album will be predominantly in Spanish with some Spanglish, because that's how Kali talks and writes in her everyday life. “When I really want to say something that I feel I have to say in English, I will switch over because I'm not going to force it, but a lot of it will be in Spanish,” she says. The first single is set to release before the end of the year.

Kali Uchis

She's come a long way since her 2018 debut Isolation put her on the map, and she feels more positively than ever about her future. “I'm at a point in my life where I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anybody anymore,” she says. “Once you let go of the feeling of having to prove yourself, feeling like outside validation is literally the only way you can make it, once you get past that and can openly share your creativity in a really genuine way — that's what I'm looking forward to.”

Reflecting on her first album, Kali says she wonders if worrying about proving herself led her to overthink too much. “Looking back on it, I did tell true stories that were happening in my life on Isolation, but I was a little too concerned about like, ‘This is my first album, I have to get the Gorillaz on it, Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, Tyler [the Creator], Bootsy [Collins].' I felt like I had to pull everyone that I love into the project in order to prove myself as this genius.” Still, she's very proud of the result. “Someone coming from where I come from would have never even thought I would be able to get all those different artists on a project and be able to make it sound like one cohesive project,” she says. “Project is the best word for [Isolation] — it was an experiment.”

Now, she's happy to feel less burdened when she's in the studio. “It's a lot less pressure now when I make music,” she explains. “I can literally do whatever the f*** I want. I learned so many lessons this year. Worry about yourself — that's the most important thing that I learned this year. … Stay out of drama, stay out of bulls***, and worry about yourself.”