Kali Uchis on her new album 'Red Moon in Venus' NPR's Scott Simon speaks with singer-songwriter Kali Uchis about her soulful new album 'Red Moon in Venus' and the inspiration behind it.

On Kali Uchis' soulful new album, love has many dimensions

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Love, good karma, some old-school funk are ingredients for a happy life, says Kali Uchis.


KALI UCHIS: (Singing) I just wanna get high with my lover. (Singing in Spanish). Kiss, kiss...

SIMON: The Colombian performer gained prominence in the U.S. after releasing a mixtape in 2012. Her Latin-infused take on R&B has since earned millions of fans, top spots on global music charts and a Grammy.


UCHIS: (Singing) Baby, it's been a hell of a day.

SIMON: Kali Uchis just released her third album, "Red Moon In Venus," and she joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.

UCHIS: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: A red moon, sometimes called a blood moon. Isn't that sometimes considered a bad omen?

UCHIS: Not in my book. I think it's sexy. The music is very feminine. It's about love, so Venus felt, like, obvious for me. And then red moon - it just felt like the energy. Like, I felt like red encapsulated the entire body of work. And the moon - I'm guided by the moon. So red moon - it just felt like the right thing. And I see what you're talking about, you know, the end of the world, blah blah blah, with the red moon. And that just made me want to do red moon even more because I was like, I'm about to end the world with this [expletive].

SIMON: There's a lot of romance on this album, isn't there?

UCHIS: Very romantic album. Erotic, some might say. That was definitely what I wanted to get with the album. I wanted to put more love into the world. And yeah. (Singing) What the world needs now is love, sweet love.


UCHIS: (Singing) Love between two human beings can be so wonderful, wonderful in love.

SIMON: How do you think of some of the influences that are in this album - funk, soul?

UCHIS: Definitely soul. I would say a lot of soul is in the album. And I look at soul as, like, an underlying term for my music. I sing, and I write from my soul, and so I just look at all my music as soul music because of that. I don't really think too much about genres when I'm creating. It's more so what I wanted to give. I wanted it to feel timeless. I wanted it to feel romantic.


UCHIS: (Singing) Go ahead and call my number. I'll pick up. Yes, I will. Oh, I will.

Something very important for me was showing all the different dimensions of love - so, like, you know, the downs and the ups and the times where you're at peace, the times where you're in pieces, all of it.

SIMON: That's a wonderful phrase - the times you're at peace, the times you're in pieces.

UCHIS: Thank you. I don't know. Just came up with it off the top.

SIMON: Let's listen to a little of "Moral Conscience."


UCHIS: (Singing) Maybe I'm just out my mind, trying to figure out this life. I hate how good I could see right through you like Miami waters. Lost myself a while back tryna make peace with my past. I guess I was just looking for the love no one showed me in my childhood.

SIMON: Can I get you to talk about your childhood?

UCHIS: Uh-oh (laughter). I was waiting for that. I was like, so you said you didn't have love in your childhood? Yeah, no. True story.

SIMON: I gather you grew up between Colombia and Virginia in an immigrant family. Would you mind talking about it?

UCHIS: I would just say that growing up, I never really felt, like, the love and the support that I feel like kids should have.


UCHIS: I think that that follows you your whole life. Like, having mommy and daddy issues is hard.

SIMON: So there you were.

UCHIS: There I was with a dream.

SIMON: May I ask, your mother or father didn't see that in you? Or...

UCHIS: I don't think anybody saw it in me, not just them. (Laughter) Yeah. But, yeah, just a dream. No plans. No plan, but a dream she did have.


UCHIS: (Singing) You know when karma comes 'round knocking down on your door, she's coming to collect 'cause karma won't forget. When you're all alone, when you're all alone, you'll know you were wrong.

SIMON: You made your first mixtape in your car in 2012 after you'd been turned out of your house?

UCHIS: Yeah. When I first started making music, I just had, you know, my laptop, a USB mic, a MIDI keyboard. That was something that I loved to do. I always loved to make music. I was writing poetry since I was little. I was in jazz band. I played piano. I played saxophone. I always had a strong desire to just always be creating. No matter, like, where I was or what situation I was in my life, I always created.


UCHIS: (Singing) Finally stopped calling. Tryna forget your face and put these thoughts to rest. Can I move on? Gotta get this off my chest. Want to feel light as a feather, just want to feel OK. Is that OK?

SIMON: Is a lot of your music at the moment about what amounts to the importance of knowing yourself and being comfortable with yourself?

UCHIS: I would say yeah. I would say self-love is definitely a dimension of love that was very important to the making of this album.

SIMON: You seem to be in a happy spot now.

UCHIS: Yeah, I am happy. I would say I'm happy.


UCHIS: (Singing) Can we be happy now? I wanna be happy now. Can we be happy now?

SIMON: Kali Uchis - her new album is called "Red Moon In Venus." Thanks so much for being with us. I'm going to look at the red moon a little differently now because of you.

UCHIS: Nice to meet you. Thank you for having me.


UCHIS: (Singing) Baby, if you miss me you should text. Won't ever forget me. You won't.

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