When Kali Uchis picked the orchid as the title and theme of her new album Orquídeas, which arrived on Friday (Jan. 12), she didn’t know it was the flower of fertility. And then, later in her rollout, she found out she was pregnant with her first child, telling Billboard News, “It all came together perfectly.”
“The flower, for me, it always symbolized timelessness, femininity, luxury,” says the Colombian artist. “It has an eerie, mystical quality about it as well. It’s also the national flower of Colombia, so for me it all tied in.”
Orquídeas is Uchis’ fourth album and second Spanish-language full-length (she typically switches between English and Spanish on each project). Features include her friend Karol G (“Labios Mordidos”), plus Peso Pluma (“Igual Que Un Ángel”), Rauw Alejandro (“No Hay Ley Parte 2”) and the “unpredictable” pairing of City Girls’ JT alongside El Alfa (“Muñekita).
The Grammy winner debuted in 2018 with Isolation, followed by Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) in 2020 and last year’s Red Moon In Venus. She believes that Orquídeas, defined by its uptempo, high-energy productions, perfectly compliments those prior albums.
“I’m not a new artist anymore, I’m looking at my discography as a whole,” she says. “My next album that I’ve been working on that is also going to come out this year is all downtempo music. So being able to have to contrast, there’s so much within me that needs to be expressed and I never want to confine myself to anything.”
She confirms that forthcoming fifth album was written and recorded while pregnant, which is perhaps where the inspiration for a more soothing, lower energy release came from. And while she says “there’s so much to be excited for” about motherhood (she will soon welcome her first born with longtime partner Don Toliver), she also admits how hard it was to keep her pregnancy private, saying she still had a few shows and a red carpet appearance on her calendar — both of which made it harder to hide her growing baby bump.
Balancing her professional life with her private one has always been a priority to Uchis, who says she most looks up to Sade for how she walks that line. “It is such a fine line between trying to understand how much of ourselves are we really meant to share, or do we really feel comfortable sharing. And at the end of the day, I really thought it was strange that there is such an expectation on an artist to share their personal life,” says Uchis. “I try to remember that my music is supposed to be in the forefront, my private life and personal matters, I really don’t want that to be something that’s consuming or overshadowing my work.”
And as someone who puts their art first — and who has always embraced her bicultural upbringing along the way, having been born and raised in Virginia — Uchis has become a safe space for others who hope to do the same. “There’s a lot of artists who sing in Spanish who are English speakers primarily and they’ve come to me like, ‘You really make me want to make music in English too. I’ve always wanted to but my label doesn’t want me to do that because this or that is what sells for me,’” she says. “I think as an artist, what’s most important always is the thought of no limitations…I feel like everyone should be as free and creative as possible.”
Watch the full interview above.