Here at Online, on trend we’ve been hearing the name Kaly for a while. True fans for a few years, when it was time to start profiling up-and-comers on this blog it was a no brainer that we’d do everything we could to get Kaly to agree to an interview. Turns out, it wasn’t hard at all to get him to agree.
If all you know about Kaly is from his videos or music, it may be hard to get a grasp of who he is as a person. Able to spit a sick rhyme on beats that bounce, you’d be surprised that the confident Kaly is actually soft-spoken, polite and extremely easy to talk to–not at all “hard” or “abrasive” as many rappers may be perceived as.
Flying high on the release of a track with Shilpa Narayan titled “Still Dreamin” (the track got over a thousand views in a few hours), we sat down with Kaly to learn more about how the talented rapper got to where he is today, the evolution of his personal brand, how he has built his presence online and what it means to “make it.”
Online, on trend: Tell us a little about how you started out in music. Has this always been your dream?
Kaly: “It’s interesting, actually…getting into music…it all kind of sprung from a very ‘unrapper’-like place. It started in sixth grade, actually. I was an awkward Indian kid with the mushroom cut, glasses. I wanted to impress girls, and the only way I thought I could do that was by writing poems. It’s funny because even though I was writing poetry, my whole family used to call me “the rapper”…well before I ever penned a verse. I have a cousin who’s an actor in Bollywood, and he’d always introduce me as ‘my cousin, the rapper’. So I’m not even sure why any of that happened, looking back, it’s almost like it was chosen for me.
Fast forward to High School…I was dating this girl, and I decided I wanted to do something beyond just writing her a poem (of which I had written her many), so I thought I would write a song for her. I figured I’d just set some of my poetry to music, that’s what rap is, right? I remember loving the whole process of creating it…even though, it was so terrible. After that I started releasing individual tracks…I hit up everyone I knew…producers, DJSs, etcetera. Being in the Indian community, it seemed natural for me to try to get my community behind me. People have always told me not to do it, that I should try to break into the mainstream…but my thought has always been that you have to get your own people behind you first.
Anyway (sorry I’m rambling), after releasing a ton of individual tracks throughout the years and really getting nowhere, I got really disenchanted with music and I stopped writing altogether. I got to a point where I thought it had to be because I just wasn’t good enough. This continued for about two years.
One day, I was randomly at a bar when I saw this girl I used to work with a few years earlier. She asked me what I was up to, and I don’t know what possessed me to say ‘I’m trying to do this music thing.’ Turns out her boyfriend owned a music studio! Next thing you know, I was in the studio with some guys who had produced alongside Swizz Beatz, recording my first EP, “The Flight”. It was originally supposed to be five tracks but we locked in and ended up being 9 tracks.”
Now that you know where Kaly got his start, check back tomorrow for the second part of this 3-part interview.