KALI’s debut EP ‘Circles’ explores the ups and downs of young love
The EP dropped alongside a video for the song “Too Tired.” Featuring a disorienting, moody visual, the latest release is the fourth single from the collection, following "I Just Wanna," "Lucy" and "Back To The Start."
KALI is the mononym of Kali Flanagan, a rising 16-year-old artist from California.
Circles as a whole explores the wide range of teenage experiences, juggling the complex emotions that accompany young love and heartbreak.
To craft the EP, KALI played the majority of the instrumentals, and also tapped Miro Mackie (St. Vincent, the Neighbourhood, Dirty Projectors) and Daniel Chae (of Run River North) for production. The record additionally incorporates the voices and perspectives of the artist’s friends, bringing in their own stories and recorded voices.
That personalized angle is particularly apparent on the album opener, “Back To The Start,” which was also KALI’s first single. Opening with spoken word and a moody R&B feel, the song quickly breaks into a funky bass-driven groove. The track is punctuated by shimmering instrumental hits, and details the perspective of someone who can’t walk away from a troubled relationship.
These kinds of sentiments transform the record into a sort of document of youth, a window into the emotions as well as the artistry of a precocious young talent.
This emotional side of the equation especially shines on “Lucy,” the second single from the record. Infused with a dreamy pop sensibility, the track was written to document a particularly difficult and unique experience. The song details the difficulties of falling for another woman who is not ready to come out of the closet and publicly own their relationship. As such, the track offers a particularly forceful perspective on the romantic experiences of LGBTQIA+ youth.
One of the other crucial aspects of the record is the fact that it constructs an image of someone who grew up immersed in music. Trained in piano lessons from the age of four, KALI has since expanded her toolkit to include guitar, bass, drums and violin. The artist sees her current work as bridging the gap between her childhood infatuation with instruments and her desire to use music to depict more complex emotional registers.
“As I got older, I started to have experiences that were much more emotional and personal, and songwriting became an actual necessity instead of something that was fun for me to do,” KALI says. “Sometimes it’s so hard to articulate how you feel in life, and songwriting is like a vehicle for me to express myself and get my thoughts out. It brings so much clarity.”
That maturity is apparent on the album’s latest single, “Too Tired.” Inspired by Arctic Monkeys and the Strokes, the cut has a raw, guitar-driven quality. Lyrically, the song speaks to the exasperation of someone who is still overwhelmed but at least starting to sense their own potential and limitations.
KALI also shared a new visual for the track, directed by Zealand Yancy. The video mirrors the song’s disorienting qualities, showcasing the singer as she stumbles around a house underneath harsh red lighting.
KALI’s Circles EP is available via Nettwerk, and you can watch the video for “Too Tired” below.
Circles EP Tracklist:
1. Back to the Start
3. Too Tired
4. I Just Wanna
5. Someone To Hold
More About KALI
KALI’s current project is clearly the result of a long process of musical development. Her abilities on a wide range of instruments showcase her passion as well as the intentional approach taken by the artist along with her parents.
KALI initially wanted to play guitar, but her parents insisted on piano as the foundation of a well-rounded approach to musical training. “It was a great idea because it’s the center and the foundation of everything theory-wise,” KALI says.
KALI followed her early lessons with recitals, private lessons and masterclasses, gradually increasing the scope of her musical talents. The artist also formed the indie surf-rock band Big Wednesday, and taught herself to use GarageBand in order to demo new songs.
Along the way, KALI has not only been honing her craft. The artist has also been developing the maturity to use her musical inclinations as a medium for storytelling and expression.
In an interview with Ones To Watch, KALI emphasized that part of her current project is finding ways to bridge the gap between her passion for music and her interest in conveying emotions through sound.
“Originally, I was drawn to music in general for the performance aspect, but when I started making music it was completely different,” KALI says. “There is such a different feeling with something that you make and something that's entirely yours. You can do anything with it. It's infinite, it's so magical and enthralling, and that's what drew me to it. When I was younger, I didn't necessarily understand the fact that I was expressing myself in a creative way in terms of my emotions and how I felt, but then when I got to high school, I really started to express how I was feeling through music.”
If Circles is any indication, KALI is starting to understand exactly how to express herself creatively.
What do you think of KALI’s Circles EP? Let us know in the comments below.