Kali Claire chats to GUAP about her new single and the R&B landscape.

Tell us about your new single Before The World Ends. What inspired you to write it and where did the lyrics stem from? 

I wrote it two years ago in 2021. We was all in lockdown and I felt like the world was gonna end, in a nutshell. I wrote [it] on Zoom and I feel like it was one of my first proper Zoom sessions and I was productive, but it felt very robotic and not being with people, but working with people felt very isolated. And I feel like when I felt isolated I cut myself off from the world even more and then I definitely feel like the world is gonna end. It just felt like my whole mood in that period of time and still kind of does when I isolate myself. 

What are your thoughts on the current state of R&B in the UK? 

I’m so excited, there’s so much good music there that I’m just excited because I don’t even know what’s gonna happen. That’s how big I feel like what we’re doing is, and the sound and the relatability of the lyrics and the musicianship – I just feel like it’s connecting with people and it doesn’t matter where they’re geographically based. Good music is good music and I feel like we’re making a lot of it. I’m just happy – happy that there’s like a space for it now. 

Photography by Kat Friar

What R&B have you been listening to lately and are there any up-and-coming artists you’re excited about? 

Lately, I had a chance to work with a producer called Camper in January and it’s so crazy because I’ve been listening to a project that he executively produced – it’s Coco Jones – What I Didn’t Tell You, and there’s a song called ‘ICU’ that I love so much and you know when you find a song that you just listen to on repeat and you rinse the song so [much that] you don’t even like the song anymore, but I still love the song. Then, upcoming artists – the two girls that performed at Mahalia Presents were sick. Nnenna Kingshe [covered a] Lauryn Hill song. I feel like when someone does a cover it confirms how good their voice is because you already know the song, there’s nothing to go off. It provides a different mood. I loved her live set and her band. 

   Who else? That guy that just released ’22’ – JayO. That song is too fire. I love Jaz Karis. Her last project – I had the pleasure of listening to one song before it actually came out and it was ‘COME OUTSIDE’ and I was just like, “Woah!” She played it to us in the studio, just casually, and I was like, “What the hell!?” She was like, “Yeah! I’m dropping this.” I was like, “Yeah! It can be in my Apple Music.” I love that song, so her as well.

Photography by Kat Friar

What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned in the music industry as an independent artist? 

Wrap your head around everything. You don’t have to do everything but just to understand what you’re doing. And I feel like that takes a lot of effort and time because you have to learn a lot of things, but you’re the one that’s held accountable when you’re an independent artist in particular, but also when you are a signed artist or if you’re with label services or anything because they are a helping hand. You’re your own entity and they are in business with you. So just being responsible for everything that you’re styling and predicaments that you’re putting yourself into. Just trying to watch out for yourself in the long run.

We’ve seen you collaborate with JVCK JAMES, Not3s, Hamzaa and Aida Lee, is there anyone else you’d like to work with?

Firstly, I wanna work with everyone at home – so Jaz Karis, Shae Universe – I’m gonna message Jack and I feel like we should do another song ’cause it would make sense. But also overseas, I connected with a guy called Phabo, so we’re thinking about making a song and putting something together. I really love this artist from New York, her name is Alex Mali and we’ve been talking in the DMs. She’s amazing, I literally found her on Spotify and I was a fan and I DM’d her so fingers are crossed because she’s sick and I just love her, regardless of me making music so that would make me happy. Who else? I don’t know. I’m open. I wanna collab with a rapper. 

Which rapper would you collab with?

The best rapper in the UK – Chip. The way he works – it’s just too crazy ’cause he doesn’t write anything down. He doesn’t premeditate anything. I have so much respect for the process that he has. That would be my dream. 

  I feel like this year ’cause I haven’t released music in like a year now I’m just ready to be outside again. This year I wanna go to festivals, I wanna meet people, I wanna get in the studio with people, ’cause you have to make this song and I don’t know, for me, when I collab with someone, I wanna make it genuine. I have to either be a crazy fan of yours already and I literally just wanna collab with you ’cause I’d be honoured to be on the song or I meet you and you are music to me and that makes me wanna be part of a song with you. 

Photography by Kat Friar

How does your new music differ from the last project you dropped, A Man’s World? 

I feel like A Man’s World – I was so angry. I feel like I was just angry, trying to navigate the music industry as a young woman is crazy. I feel like it’s still very male-dominated and it’s getting a lot better, but I don’t feel like it’s talked about a lot or as much as I think it should be. Just because it’s rare for me to walk into a room and there’s a female engineer – I don’t even like saying “female engineer” cause they’re just an engineer, the job is not a gender role. I feel like there’s starting to be more different people in different places and I like that a lot because music is not just one thing. So I feel like it should be reflected in the business side as well. 

   ‘Disrespekt’ was about how I was feeling literally every day that year before it dropped, the constant disrespect – that was the song title and I didn’t even write down any words, it literally just flew out and that song just is how I felt. And [in] the new music, I’m not as angry anymore and I’ve learned to accept a lot of things. I’ve learned that even if I don’t like something I can still accept it and it helps me try and move on at least. 

Watch the music video for ‘Before The World Ends’ here.

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Kat Friar