Rising Pick of the Week: Kaleema
Classically trained musician, producer, DJ and composer Kaleema (born Heidi Lewandowski in Buenos Aires, Argentina) has gained increasing attention for her eclectic and effortless mixture of South American and African music traditions blended with modern influences of hip-hop, jazz and R&B.
Kaleema has studied classical violin since she was 14, composition and production at the Catholic University of Argentina and Electronic Music Production at the SAE Institute of New York. She continues her studies with master pianist Mónica Cosachov and collaborates in musical projects including Chancha via Circuito, Sara Hebe and Lido Pimienta.
Since 2015, she has been producing and coordinating “Madre de Dios,” a series of musical events showcasing global base and world music. She has also made a mixtape for the London label Metrón Musik and edited a single for Los Angeles label Waxploitation’s compilation, Future Sounds of Argentina.
She recently finished her first album, properly titled Nomada (Spanish for nomadic). Kaleema manages to unite sounds from different areas, and it has been said that her music is a big backpack loaded with essences of nature and the sensitivity to use classical instruments as tools in her digital creations. Her ability to exist in a new and alternative musical genre opens possibilities to redefine and discover musical stories that have yet to be written.
We are honored to introduce Kaleema as this week’s TIDAL Rising Artist of the Week, with an interview and an exclusive guest playlist to come and hope you take this opportunity to get to know this highly exciting artist just a little better.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself, Kaleema as the artist and the person.
I started studying violin when I was 14 and that changed my way of connecting to music, it was a totally different experience playing an instrument and that is something that I’m totally grateful for — that was the door to a whole new world.
In 2012 I went to NY to study electronic music production at SAE, it was really nourishing, I’d been recording with R&B and hip hop producers and also it was then when I decided what I wanted to do with music was mixing electronic music with acoustic and organic sounds. When I returned to BA I continued playing violin in different orchestras and also studying music composition in the conservatory, but in 2014 I started my soloist project “Kaleema” and I started also to play with Chancha Via Circuito’s band, going on tour to Europe, US and Latin-America and also organizing a global bass party in BS.AS called Madre de Dios.
Starting to make my own music away from the academic structure really empowered me and also gave me a lot of freedom to explore new sounds and new ways of producing and creating music. My first LP Nómada was released in July via Tropical Twista Records and I’ve just returned from my first European tour. I’m working on a second album with exciting collaborations with artists that I love.
You have a diverse ancestral and musical background. Please enlighten us on how you melt all this into a coherent musical expression.
It took me a lot of time to integrate all the different experiences and backgrounds, especially mixing academic knowledge with a more intuitive way of composing, but after a lot of work it happened naturally, it was more about exploring and being able to go beyond what was known for me and not having pre fabricated ideas of what should be done.
How will you describe your full-length debut Nómada for the curious listener?
I think the album has a lot of different moments, some of them more cinematic — like the collaboration with Chancha in “Anima”, others work well on the dancefloor like “Sierra Leona”, “Retorno de Saturno” or “Péndulo” and “Ritual”. Tracks like “Copal” are more emotional, mystic and feminine. I think the best way of enjoying the album is to hear it at home, letting the sounds and atmospheres lift you up.
Who or what inspired most you growing up?
I started to play guitar and sing when I was 13, I really loved to play covers and being able to play my favorite melodies from Pink Floyd, Squirrel Nut Zippers, D’Angelo, Caetano Veloso, Bill Withers and many, many others.
I always loved electronic music, my father was a tremendous inspiration because he used to take me to see electronic music when I was really really young, like 12 or 13 years old, he also made me dance to that music, they weren’t parties actually but more like small concerts of great electronic music producers from Germany, most of the time because he was associated with the Goethe Institute, a German cultural center in BA. That really influenced me a lot. He also gave me my first vinyl of salsa and Brazilian music.
Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music?
In 2015 I played violin in a concert series in the Centro de Experimentación at the Colón Theater in Buenos Aires with the German director and composer Grego Schewllenbach (of the label Kompakt), where we played mystical electronic music pieces with orchestral instruments. It was a lot of fun and quite enlightening because it was a meeting point between two different musical worlds that I love and respect so much. Since then, I sought to maintain that fusion in my music- combining electronic foundations with melodies and elements from other musical worlds.
What’s the best new song you recently discovered?
Thornato: Tu Luz ft. Lido Pimienta
What are your other favorite activities?
I love to dance, I’m taking contemporary dance classes and I absolutely love it, I love yoga too, trekking in the mountains, spending time in nature and searching for vinyls in every city I go to.
Looking one year ahead, where would you like to see yourself?
I would like to have a new album finished by next year and have the opportunity to tour in the US, I would also like to work composing soundtracks for movies.
And finally, if your music was an object what would it be?
I would say a tree, having enough roots to be nourished from the earth and leaves near heaven to be able to swing with the wind.
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