Grab a bag of Lays potato chips and get in line girls, because the latest cutie on the music scene, Kaly is single and looking!
Known for his unique, raw vocals and uncompromising lyrics, Kaly is an intelligent, down to earth artist who just wants to show the world music through his eyes. He’s already made a name for himself through numerous tracks charting on BBC Asian Network, praise from great talents like Rishi Rich, Mentor Kolektiv and DJ Bikram Keith, his music is even featured on the Playstation 3 video game “Haze.”
Kaly’s working on a new EP, a new music video AND his debut album “The Flight!” With so much on his plate we’re surprised Kaly even had time for us! Check out what secrets Kaly had to tell us!
UA: Let’s start with how did you get into this business? What drew you to music, was it a childhood passion?
Kaly: You know, it was probably a combination of things. I think I was always into pop/rock music, I remember I used to listen to Korn a lot, the name Tal Bachman comes to mind too, N’sync. The Spice Girls? I don’t know why the Hell I was listening to that stuff, but I guess I have to be real about that. Anyways, around 6th grade (I think) my cousins introduced me to “hit ‘em up” by 2pac, and that really opened a door for me to investigate more rap music (not to mention, that song scared the sh*t out of me). At the same time, one of my best friends in school, a white guy, was like “you’re colored, don’t you rap?” People have always just assumed I rap or something and I’m not even sure why, so I guess I just succumbed to it after a while. I always wrote poetry so making the jump to making music wasn’t too hard and, of course, it happened because of a girl. I wanted to write her a song and I really enjoyed the whole experience of writing/recording and so I continued and here I am today.
UA: It’s no secret that you’re a man with humble beginnings, so what advice would you give to a struggling artist who is just starting out? Something you wish someone had told you way back then?
Kaly: Honestly, to believe in yourself, because no one else is going to for you. I know that sounds a little contrite but it took me forever to learn that. I wasn’t raised around people who wanted to be in the business or who wanted to be artists or DJs, etc. To this day, none of my friends are interested in the music business or anything like that, and I think that’s really hurt me at points. For example, when one of your boys is a DJ, you can get your music out easier, you know? So by “believe in yourself” I mean, prepare to go broke and invest every dollar you have into yourself. Don’t half-ass it. People aren’t going to want to produce for you, mix for you, promo for you, for free. Like my man Los from Richmond told me, “how you gonna call this your dream and you don’t want to put no money down for it?” The only reason it took me this long is because I never had the capital before, and I thought people would just want to help me based off my talent. Everybody has talent, not everybody has that belief in themselves though.
UA: Desi parents always want their kids to follow the engineer/doctor/lawyer route, how did your family react to your choice of a music career?
Kaly: I’ve been blessed honestly. That’s not to say that my parents love what I’m doing, they actually absolutely hated it and kicked me out of the house multiple times when they first found out. They’ve also used my making music as the reason for any failures or shortcomings I’ve developed, “if you’d only stop concentrating on your music, you would have gotten into medical school” etc. I am blessed however, in that my parents have always been open-minded, a fact I didn’t realize for a very long time. I won’t say they’re absolutely cool with it, but they understand now that it’s something I truly believe in and something I’m not going to give up on; I guess they’re on that “can’t beat em, join em” tip.
UA: Speaking of your parents, what’s family life like? Are you and you’re siblings close?
Kaly: It’s pretty normal honestly, I’d like to say we’re like any other family, and now that I’m older I get a lot more leeway with stuff than when I was younger, so that’s cool. I have one younger brother and he’s like my polar opposite in damn near everything. Nonetheless, we’re pretty cool and he’s at my recording sessions sometimes so that’s always cool.
UA: So how do you keep your roots alive in your music?
Kaly: I actually have never purposely tried to do this. I always felt like every other south-Asian artist really really was trying way too hard by throwing certain instruments or Punjabi vocals on EVERY song, and so I thought I wouldn’t do that because it’s clearly a gimmick. I want to make good music, and if the track feels like it needs some ethnic vibe or something, then and then only will I even consider throwing something south-Asian in it. South-Asian is what I am, but I’d like to think my music is universal; I want people to love my music and then be surprised that I’m south-Asian later.
UA: What (or who) inspires you to write?
Kaly: Hmm, I’m going to go with “some higher power”. My inspiration really comes from some higher place, I have no idea. Some days I won’t write a single thing (I hate forcing writing lyrics), but then other days I’ll just be hit with inspiration and I’ll be writing on anything I can get my hands on, a notepad/my phone/etc. A really great beat will have me instantly inspired 9 times out of 10 though, something that the I.N. Crowd guys are masters at creating, which has resulted in some amazing music that we’ve created.
UA: Do you prefer sitting on a park bench writing your music or performing in front of a large audience? Why?
Kaly: Probably writing the music because I’m a really shy person when it comes down to it. I owe my uncle for really dismantling a lot of that shyness when I was younger by making me and my cousins perform at every family party, but I’m still very very shy and get super nervous when I have to perform. Guaranteed you won’t see my nervousness, but I will be sweating bullets.
UA: What songs are on your iPod right now?
Kaly: A lot of older rap and r&b for sure. I’m not a hater of the new stuff coming out, but I really enjoy the older stuff more. There’s definitely some Indian music on there. Random rock music. Taylor Swift. Yeah, Taylor Swift. One thing you won’t find though is my own music. I HATE listening to myself.
UA: If you could do a duet with any female artist in the world right now who would you choose?
Kaly: I was reading these questions with a few of my friends around and I really couldn’t think of anyone I just HAD to have a duet with off the top of my head. Now that I’ve had some time to think though, it would definitely have to be Lauryn Hill. There isn’t even much you can say to explain the choice; she’s just the greatest female talent I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing. She could sing, rap, even just talk on a track of mine and I’d be going nuts.
UA: If you were stranded on a deserted island what are three things you absolutely can’t live without?
Kaly: Lays potato chips, water (to neutralize the saltiness of the chips), and a female companion.
UA: If you weren’t a rapper what would you have become?
Kaly: If I had never been a rapper though, I would’ve been a teacher. No question about it. An English teacher.
UA: What’s one city that you’re absolutely dying to visit?
Kaly: I’ve actually been trying to go to Los Angeles for a few years now so I think that would be my choice. I’m not even sure why, I’ve just had a really rough past few years and everytime I wanted to escape I’d always start looking up tickets to LA, so I think something is there that I need to see. I know that all sounds weird, so ok just Los Angeles.
UA: So what’s next for Kaly this year? Why don’t you tell us about some upcoming projects that fans can expect from you in the coming months?
Kaly: I’m just going to keep grinding until I make a name for myself in the scene and really get all the naysayers to finally pay attention. I have my EP coming out soon “The Flight”, and we just started shooting the video for the single “Politics Pt.2” which is going to be unlike anything the south-Asian scene has ever seen before. I believe we’ll be releasing all of that in June. This whole summer I’m going to be recording my actual debut album, which will probably end up having a early Fall or Winter release. We’re about 4 tracks in with that album already and it sounds RIDICULOUS. And somehow in between all of this I believe me and my man RKZ from the UK are going to put out a small joint EP so that’s actually going to be really amazing because he’s one of the only south-Asian artists I respect in the game, his talent is unequaled.
UA: Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
Kaly: Hopefully married and able to support my family through this music thing. I want to be able to pay-off any debts my parents may have so that they can just sit around and chill for the rest of their time here. I want to be able to be making music free of any constraints or pressures of life like bills, finances, etc. And I think I’ve been searching for my wife since I was like 16 so hopefully I’ve found her by then =)
UA: We’ve already asked you to give the struggling artists out there a bit of advice, so how about a message for your loving fans?
Kaly: I have to say, from every fiber of my being, thank you. I’ve never been a cocky or arrogant person, so for the most part I’ve never even thought I had any fans. I just make my music and hope that someone out there likes it besides me. Being a fan is a hard job, and one that a lot of times they don’t even get recognized for (by the artist), so I appreciate every fan that I have and can’t thank them enough for following me on this journey as a musician. Definitely keep a lookout for my EP, album, music videos, etc., all coming soon, and thank you for sticking with me for so long! I was scared of success before and needed to learn a lot before I was able to give my whole heart to this music thing and so I really think I have some great things in store for you all very soon. Of course, if I let any of you down, feel free to tell me I’m garbage!