Band Interview: Kali Ra

How have you been over the pandemic? Have you been working on anything new?

The pandemic prompted several mental breakdowns for me. I had multiple ventures that were dashed by the pandemic. I’m struggling to come out of a very depressive period. Being proactive has helped. I have been working with a very talented lineup, moved our studio to Oakland, working on a new record, starting to book for Autumn/Winter of this year, scoring films, and (of all the possible things) am teaching at public schools.

You released Canto XIV in October 2020. It is so beautiful and definitely evokes an emotion out of those who we have shared it with in the past. What is the idea behind the song (if there is one)?

Is there a story behind it? Canto XIV exists as a proof of concept. The concept being my ability to score for horror movies. I envisioned a hypothetical religious horror movie (like The Exorcist, The Omen) and created a theme for this nonexistent movie.

We would also like to talk about “The Monarch” which you released in March of 2020. Can you tell us about the track “Gaslight?”

The Monarch was a study in British contemporary music (trip-hop, brit rock, glam) plus hip-hop, jazz, and funk. It set the tone for my current direction which leans heavily into trip-hop, funk, drum & bass, and house. I had the exciting experience of composing for a string ensemble. Stylistically, it’s rather fluid which is a bit of a personal reflection. Gaslight is about the treatment of the working class. My friend Trish Henning did some great psychedelic cello on that track.

You were part of our Suicide Awareness mini concert that we did with Golden West College for Suicide Awareness Month, we really appreciate the time you dedicated to the event! Do you have anything you would like to say in honor of suicide awareness or mental health?

I am relieved that the stigma around therapy and self-care has been somewhat eradicated. It helped me through a period of great depression and anxiety (what a classic combo!)

This may be one of the most generic questions, but what are your artistic and musical influences? Your music is always so unique, and every song is its own special arrangement, so we felt that asking this question.

My influences shift. Currently, I am getting inspiration from trip-hop, doom jazz, funk, synth pop, modern Norwegian string ensembles, hip-hop, house music, lofi, d&b. This is my palette with which I am trying to create emotionally charged and cinematic songs. There are non-musical influences: Basquiat, liminal spaces, current events, my (failing) mental health, etc. I try to create interesting arrangements that are cinematic. Each song would have the same emotional effect as a movie.

You recently had a show at The Caravan in April, how was that? We saw some of the footage from the show and it looked quite lovely! Do you have any more upcoming shows?

was rather good! We weren’t expecting a great turnout, but it was quite packed. It was a pleasant surprise! It was our first show in years and felt great. The venue treated us very well. Ashes Fallen and Sword Tongue did amazingly. We are currently booking for September through December in SF and Oakland.

You enjoy cooking, yes? What are some of your favorite foods to make?

I learned my serious cooking skills in southern Italy and New Orleans. Naturally, those are my best dishes – southern Italian, Cajun, and Creole. But I also love cooking regional Mexican, French, Spanish, Tunisian, Moroccan, Turkish, Romanian, Thai, Japanese, and Korean food. FOOD. BAKING. FOOD. BAKING. FOOD. BAKING. WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNEEEEE!

Above are some of his dishes!

Tell us about the movie you are working on “Wait?” This sounds rather exciting! Tell us all about it! It’s a quirky horror/comedy by my favorite duo – Jonathan Shahan and Cait Brasel. Many strange occurrences happen in a house, which is a waiting place. I will be providing the score.There’s inspiration from Sonic Youth, Neil Young, and George Crumb.

Tell us about some of the causes you fight for, why they are important to you, and what do you feel needs to be done?

Right now, the rights of many of our fellow human beings are in jeopardy. We live in an oligarchy that is turning towards fascism. The people behind this movement envision a society that secures wealth and privilege for those who are white, christian, and heterosexual, likely coming from at least an upper middle class background (even poor whites are being marginalized). It may take drastic measures to secure the rights of anyone who does not fit this narrow archetype. The infrastructure and social fabric of this country is founded on this slavery/oppression/land thievery. We need more collectivism. We need cooperation. We need empathy. We also need determination and the will to fight. We also have to use these qualities to try to counter the effects of climate change. For the preservation of our species and our planet, we need to collectively end the era of “fuck you, I got mine”.

Can you tell us about all the work it took to get some of your tracks onto spotify? Do you have any advice for bands trying to get their music on spotify?


1. Register a copyright for your mastered song.

2. Create liner notes/credits

3. Input etadata onto the audio track.

4. Gather album/track art.

5. Register with a PRO like BMI or ASCAP

6. Submit your tracks through a distributor like Distrokid or CD Baby

Some of your music was remastered for spotify, can you tell us which ones?

The album “The Monarch”

Leave us with a quote!

“A beber y a tragar, que el mundo se va a acabar.”

Links to all things Kali Ra

Kali Ra on TikTok

Kali Ra on Instagram

Kali Ra on Facebook

Kali Ra on Spotify

Kali Ra on Bandcamp

Kali Ra on Youtube

Kali Ra on Twitter

Kali Ra Website

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