Heartbeats: 5 Minutes with The National Theatre’s River Stage 2023, Hackney Empire’s Young Producers Headliner Kali Claire

The free outdoor festival River Stage has returned to the National Theatre for summer 2023, with the upcoming performance of East London all-round artist Kali Claire.

Heartbeats: 5 Minutes with The National Theatre’s River Stage 2023, Hackney Empire’s Young Producers Headliner Kali Claire

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Arts and culture lovers rejoice! The National Theatre is hosting River Stage, a free annual festival which has been taking place in London over the four weekends of June. This year’s partners included The Glory (9th–11th June), James Cousins Company (16th–18th June), Shubbak Festival (23rd–25th June) and the upcoming Hackney Empire’s Young Producers this weekend, from 30th June to 2nd July.

The highly-anticipated Hackney Empire’s Young Producers weekend has an incredible line-up of up and coming artists, including East London-based singer, songwriter, producer and engineer Kali Claire.

Kali Claire, who will be headlining on Saturday 1st July, has co-written tracks for Alicia Keys, and worked with the likes of Tinie Tempah, Swag Did It, Not3s, and Mabel. Her latest singles include Before The World Ends and I Want You, available on Spotify.

As her Spotify bio explains, Kali first got into music subconsciously. Raised in a single-parent home, her mother used to play music around the house, while her grandfather (who used to be in an Irish folk band) taught her how to play a few chords. Whilst growing up, she shares she had always been influenced by R&B and pop. Having always been around music, Kali’s love for the art grew, and she began making songs and later taught herself how to produce, although it initially wasn’t something that she felt compelled to do.

We quickly caught up with Kali before her big performance to talk about her work and what it means to headline the Hackney Empire’s Young Producers weekend.

1) What does your work centre around, and what themes do you explore?

My work centres around emotions and human connection, partly selfish - so I don’t feel too alone. But also to put a feeling into a song, to capture an emotion that you might not be able to describe yourself.

2) How was the experience of co-writing tracks for Alicia Keys, and working with the likes of Swag Did It, Not3s, and Mabel different from working on your tracks Before The World Ends and I Want You?

The creation process is always different. When I think about making something from nothing, no particular formula pops into my head. It feels as free as I let myself be in the moment.

Working on Before The World Ends was super crazy because I wrote it via Zoom in lockdown with Sean 1da and Nia V. I recorded at home, and we wrote lyrics on the phone! The producer sent over the instrumental in an email too, so this was really an internet song.

3) You’re headlining Hackney Empire’s Young Producers on 1st July. Why did you get involved with the festival, and what can we expect from your performance?

Hackney Empire was such a big part of me developing my confidence, writing style and networking skills…and they personally asked me to get involved! My upcoming performance will be filled with good summertime energy. There will be a bit of karaoke, some amazing sing along songs and I’m bringing my film camera so dress your best and come take pictures with me!

4) Anything else coming up that you would like to share with us?

Before the end of the year, expect a project or a body of work from me! I’ve got so many songs and I need your ears to hear them…

Hackney Empire’s Young Producers will return from 30th June to 2nd July for a weekend curated by the next generation of young creatives, aged 14-21. Expect a weekend of exceptional young talent including performances by headliner Kali Claire, as well as award-winning UK hip-hop dance company Boy Blue, an interactive movement workshop by The Pappy Show and celebrate Pride weekend with the Young Producers Sing Along.

Hosted by Scully (No Signal Radio), audiences can expect dance crews, rap battles, big vocals, steel pans, grime, ‘90s bangers, alongside some of the latest crazes tearing up TikTok. Find more information on www.nationaltheatre.org.uk