In a year when many were forced into isolation, Kali Uchis’ “Telepatía” struck a chord as the Spanglish pop hit, in which the singer muses about making love telepathically, proved a dreamy tonic during the height of the early 2021 pandemic surge.
“The song first started going viral around Valentine’s Day,” says the American singer-songwriter, who has Colombian roots and is a 2022 Grammy nominee for música urbana album. “What really helped it was the fact that people were not able to be physically connected with others due to coronavirus. The whole hook of the song is, who would have thought you can make love telepathically while not being near them.”
The 27-year-old’s Latin chart topper connected with Spanish-speaking and English-speaking fans globally. “Telepatía” racked up more than 1 million streams a day in the late winter and early spring of 2021, thanks to viral sharing across social media platforms. “A lot of people were using the song in their IG stories and their TikToks, but what finally took it to the next level was when I made a music video,” she says of the song, which was not initially picked as a single from her 2020 album, “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios).”
Uchis is particularly proud that the unconventional, sultry bilingual offering went on to become a radio hit. She resisted pressure to make the song more radio-friendly or acquiesce to different remixes.
“They [radio P.D.s] ended up taking it and playing it anyway, and I was so happy that I didn’t compromise and do a radio mix,” she says of the Tainy-produced track. “That was my goal — to show people that Latin music can be anything. I feel that I’m a Latin artist as well as many other things. I wanted to project Latin music in a way people have never heard before.”
The Grammy winner, who’s signed to Interscope and has collaborated with Tyler, the Creator, Kaytranada and Jhay Cortez, is also happy the song furthered her reputation as a crossover and cross-genre artist who wins fans (R&B listeners, Latin music lovers, hip-hop heads and alternative music aficionados) on her own terms.
“I’ve always done music that experimented with genres and was kind of genreless,” she says. “People are really more receptive to that lately, and it actually worked in my favor this year.”
Thanks to Spotify and other streaming platforms, language barriers are fading as a concern, especially for younger fans, Uchis believes.
“People are a lot more open to music that doesn’t have the barrier of just one language,” she says. “For the first time in my career I feel like this year my music finally connected with a lot more people.”
What’s next for the blossoming bridger of genres? Uchis is ready to get back on the road. She’s set to open for Tyler, the Creator on his North American arena tour, scheduled to take place between February and April. Says Uchis: “I’m gonna have a lot of fun because I’ve known Tyler forever.”