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July 25, 2023
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Kalika's Trashy and Delicate World

Can you hear that sound? That explosive blend of electronic and hyper-pop beats that rocked the Montreux Jazz Festival?! ⁠That was Kalika, and we had the chance to met-up with her and her alter ego, a warrior with a colorful, provocative look, all nails polished.

Dany Niederhauser: Your musical universe mixes a lot of inspirations that echo a whole generation that grew up with the Internet. Do you think the Internet, in all its diversity, has shaped the way you think about and create your music?

Kalika: Of course, because it's my generation. We're sort of the Internet generation. I listened to music when I was a kid on YouTube, I used to do karaoke. And even now, what I listen to is more or less the music of the Internet, of Soundcloud... So of course it inspires me. But I can't put my music in a box, I don't feel that it necessarily belongs in a precise box. Some people will say I'm hyper-pop. Others will say I do French songs, pop, rock... And in fact, it's a bit of a mix. So I think I was very influenced by the 2000s. 

D: What was on your MP3 when you were a teenager?

K: There was Diam's, "DJ" (laughs). I loved that one too much. Of course, there was Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Sheryfa Luna, Jena Lee... a lot of stuff like that, but there were more surprising things like "Hijo De La Luna", I was a fan of that song, I listened to it all the time! A bit of French chanson, but still more pop.

D: You draw a lot of your inspiration from the hyper-pop style. Do you have an artist or a song in mind that drew you into this musical universe?

K: I've been listening to this kind of music for a long time. I don't know who the first person is, it's hard to say what's hyper pop or not. There's other stuff that people will classify as hyper pop, like Caroline Polachek, whereas for me it's not. One of my inspirations is Allie X "Bitch". At the moment, I'm listening to Alice Longyu Gao, she's very talented. Yelle also had something like that right from the start. There's a sort of hyper-pop side to it. Otherwise, more pop, I'd say Charli XCX. I love Winnterzuko on the French scene, Stink Shit…

D: Are you a fan of Moon Drag Queen? Because I am!

K: I'm a huge fan! I admit, she's my favorite, but you can't say that (laughs). I love her AD, she brings something a bit fresh to drag, her approach is very modern. It speaks to me a lot. I've really seen myself performing with her!

D: Let's talk a little more about you. So you went to jazz school. You're a real musical Swiss Army knife!

K: I started in classical music with violin and piano. Then I went to a contemporary music school, which was pretty rock. So that's when I started getting a taste of some venereal stuff and I loved it. What I missed was the jazz side. So I went to jazz school, which was very interesting, especially for composition. It gave me a strong melodic side. Now I'm obsessed with making beautiful melodies that can exist without prod, without anything, and that are strong enough to be beautiful. But I think I'm still a bit more pop than jazz. Even though I know we're at the Montreux Jazz Festival (laughs).

D: You called your first album "Adieu les monstres", your warrior album, your Band-Aid album. Can you tell us more about it?

K: Yes, this first album is very important for me, and not an easy one, because there are some intimate sounds on it. There's a song about my parents and the child I was in the middle of it. This song was one of the first I wrote 4-5 years ago, and it took me a long time to tell myself "ok, you can release it". And then, for this first album, I had to be brave and dare to say the things I'd been through, but also gain confidence in myself. This album is full of flaws and fragility, but also over-power, confidence, and pride in who I am. It's also a message I want to tell to the community that follows me and that looks like me: people who haven't always felt they belonged, who have been rejected, who have experienced traumas... I wanted us to turn that into a strength.

D: In the opening song Kalika Gang, you invite all the "weirdos" to join you, so you're addressing your music to the marginalized and the minority.

K: Yes, exactly. It's a song where I invite people who don't feel like they belong, to come and feel like they belong with us so that we can all feel good together. It's an invitation, a moment to get together and be happy. I often start my concerts with this music. And I like it too much. I also think it's cool to start with something very angry. At the same time, it's an invitation. I like the contrast, because throughout the album, there's this contrast all the time, and so the second song is just the opposite, it's much softer. And I wanted to show that I can be just as angry as I can be melancholy. The album is a bit like a merry-go-round.

D: What about visual writing? You're a complete artist and do everything from A to Z. What has it been like trusting you and others with your artistic vision?

K: It took a long time. What happened was that I had to release my first single, "L'été est mort", just before it had covid and lockdown. At that point, I had to call in some directors. I had some ideas, but I didn't yet know exactly what I wanted to do, or how. And then there was the lockdown, so that put everything back a year and a half. I had a year to prepare my image. I already had some ideas, but people didn't trust me. I started making files on the sounds I imagined for the video. Since I draw, I started making storyboards, and my team wanted to turn these drawings into a video. To put it into real form. Given that I was young, a chick, and didn't yet have the experience, people didn't trust me and so I told myself that I'd be co-director, given that I sensed a reluctance. So I contacted a guy whose work I liked, Mohamed Chabane, who has become my best friend, and that's how it happened. He trusted me and he's a respected director in the business, so all the production companies trusted me. After that, they followed me in my wildest fantasies.

D: You're often reduced to the alleged vulgarity of your music. Do you think this is a criticism of you as a female artist?

K: I think people who use that term are often misogynists, who haven't grasped who I am. I try hard in what I do, in my lyrics and even visually, to be raw, but without being vulgar, without crossing that line. I don't think I'm vulgar at all. I think I'm crude, sometimes even provocative. If it were a guy in my place, people wouldn't say the same thing to him... But I'm used to it now (laughs). For me, it's still poetry, admittedly trashy, but I didn't think it would shock people so much. I know what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and why I'm doing it. When I say "hottie" in the song, it's not because I want to act crazy, but more because there's a problem with these words and it needs to be heard. So some people are going to get the message, and others are going to be disturbed, but in any case, it's going to impact them in one way or another, and that was the main goal.

D: Anything else you'd like to add? 

K: Come to the Trianon in Paris on February 29, it's going to be crazy!!! And listen to the album, give it strength (laughs).

Images courtesy of Robin Voisin


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