Leven Kali on His Colorful Career & ‘Hi Tide’ His Upcoming Project [Premiere + Interview]

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she…
Photo Credit: Universal Music

Photo Credit: Universal Music

In an exclusive interview Kali shares insight on Hi Tide and details his successful career in the music industry.

R&B artist Leven Kali was seemingly meant to be a part of the music industry. Born in the Netherlands while his father was on tour, he grew up in Santa Monica, California. During his teen years he collaborated with a collective of musicians and would begin creating deep cuts that fused classic soul with hip-hop.

Over the years as a singer-songwriter-producer he has worked with the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Skrillex, and more. One poignant moment of his career included being a major part of Playboi Carti’s 2017 track “Flex” from his debut mixtape, he was also featured on the song. That same year, “Do Not Disturb” on Drake’s album More Life featured a sample of a song he wrote with Snoh Aalegra. 

Now Kali is preparing to release Hi Tide, his follow-up to his debut album, the funk heavy release Low Tide. When speaking on why he chose “Homegirl,” to be the first single on Hi Tide to drop he shared, “I’ve had the hook in my head for a long time. It’s a different song from anything I’ve ever released and felt like a strong way to get back into releasing music after Low Tide.”

In our exclusive interview, he opens up about his career, his forthcoming project set to be unveiled this spring and his overall sound. We are also premiering the video for “Homegirl” featuring Smino and Topaz Jones, check it out below. 

Can you paint a picture of what it’s been like building your career over the years? 

It’s a colorful painting with lots of people in it. It takes a village to do this. There have been a lot of great things I didn’t know were going to happen and also some falling down and getting back up. The whole time though i’ve been on this journey with my lifelong friends and my family so I couldn’t really ask for much more.

What about your upbringing in Santa Monica influences your eclectic sound?

Santa Monica is a melting pot. I grew up there during a time when it started change drastically. You can find so many different people there, you hear so many different things.

Was it an organic selection to choose both Smino and Topaz Jones for the single “Homegirl?”

Definitely. Topaz and I have been friends for a really long time and Smino and I really connected when he moved to LA last year. The three of us have worked on a lot of music together and this is just one gem from the vault.

Can you share a few details about the creative process behind bringing Hi Tide to life?    

A lot of the ideas for Hi Tide were started during the Low Tide sessions but the way that this project was put together was a huge elevation from the last time. The biggest creative difference is that I spent much more time working on this with my band The Moon. We write, produce and record everything ourselves so a lot of this process has been learning how to get better at the recording process and how to get a cohesive sound while still being as versatile and creative as we are.

What are you looking forward to exploring in your music in 2020? 

I’m looking forward to the live show experience in 2020. Hi Tide is the best music I’ve released to date and the live show is going to crazy. I can’t wait to hit the road.

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