Kali Uchis - Coming Home

Dec 2020

Karly-Marina Loaiza also known professionally as “Kali Uchis” -nickname given by her father- is an American singer and songwriter from Virginia. She experienced the majority of her upbringing in Virginia and also spent time in her parents' native Colombia. As a teenager growing up in Alexandria, just south of Washington, D.C., she learned to play piano and saxophone and also developed a deep interest in visual arts.

kali uchis

The stylistic range of left-field pop artist Kali Uchis is reflected in the variety of her collaborators an extensive genre-crossing list that includes Tyler, the Creator, Gorillaz, Daniel Caesar, Juanes, and BadBadNotGood. She released her first EP, Por Vida, in 2015 to further recognition. Her debut studio album, Isolation, was released in 2018 to widespread acclaim. Uchis' second studio album, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) ∞, is her first Spanish language project, was released in 2020.

The song “Coming Home” (also written “Coming Home - Interlude”) is the 12th track from the album “Isolation”. The song consists of two well-defined parts with a totally different production.

You can check out my full remake below:

The song consists of the following structure and chords. Note that the original song may be slightly detuned from standard tuning:

coming home chords

The first part seems to me to be a very interesting chord progression, since it continually varies between major and minor mode without changing the tonic, as it descends, and gives the theme a very special flavour. The second part still has that descending and chromatic feeling, going through a very cool second chord (Ab6/9) that quickly captures attention.


The song is introduced by a pad with a chord progression with a very expansive and open sound with chorus, which can easily be reminded of some of the pads that Tyler, the Creator uses. This sound can be replicated with the TAL-U-NO, emulation of the Juno 60.

The final sound of this pad consists of 3 simultaneous layers. For all of them I started with a basic preset called “BRS Phase Brass FMR” which you may find among the factory presets.

The first layer will be the main one, and it will provide that stereo width of this sound. Mainly, I have modified the decay, sustain, envelope and freq values ​​until I get a similar sound, activating the “chorus I” button for more amplitude.

pad 1

Pad 1

The second layer will provide a more grainy and aggressive sound, giving body to the global sound. Starting from the sound above, I have decreased the value of env and decay and increased the value of freq.

pad 2

Pad 2

Finally, the third layer is very similar to the first, with a little more env, freq and decay. I have put it a volume below the rest, adding some texture in the background.

pad 3

Pad 3

Below you can hear the final sound of this pad with the previous 3 tracks playing at the same time.

All Pads

This pad is supported with a bass synth. In my case, for bass sounds I usually use the Mini by Arturia, a recreation of the Minimoog, although there are probably better VSTs for creating sub-bass synths. Below you can see the configuration I have used and listen to it separately.

bass synth

Bass Synth

Watch out the difference between listening to the song with and without this bass synth. Do you hear that sub-bass in action?

Song without Bass Synth

Song with Bass Synth

Later, some piano keys appear, providing some melody in the passage of each chord. This sound is quite easy, since it is a grand piano with a standard preset. I personally love the feeling this piano brings to all the instrumentation.


Piano with Pads

Finally, a lead synth appears with a sharp sound, close to a bell sound. I have used a preset called “Long Bells” from the Arturia Mini, adjusting some values. The most important thing has been to place a very crazy chorus that gives that drunk effect to the sound. Hear the difference below without and with this chorus effect.

lead synth

Lead without chorus effect

Lead with chorus effect

Remember that you can directly download all these synth presets from my patreon page and load them in your DAW!


The slowdown effect that can be heard at 1:00 of the song is a production trick widely used in many songs. To recreate it, I have used the Abbey Road Vinyl plugin, where you only have to automate the stop button at the moment you want, adjust the slowdown speed, and it will simulate a stop effect of a vinyl needle. Listen to it below.

slow down

Slow down


In the song we find a rhythmic guitar at the end of the first part, which moves in stereo between L and R. In the second part, a guitar arpeggio appears with 3 descending chromatic chords.

For the guitar in the first part, I have chosen a brighter sound with highs presence with a preset that I use quite a bit for these types of rhythm guitars.

rythm guit

Rythm Guitar

For the second half, the arpeggiated guitar becomes more rude, with a lot of body. In the original theme, I would even say that this arpeggio is played on 5-string bass instead of guitar. Therefore, it is better to pull a guitar with a lot of body, or use the bass pickup.

I used a Guitar Rig preset that is used for bass instead of guitars, to get a more punchy sound. I have also used the Vulf Compressor plugin from Goodhertz which works very well to compress the signal and make all the arpeggio notes sound homogeneous at a similar volume.

arp guitar
vulf compressor

Arpeggio Guitar

I wanna show the tablature of this descending chromatic arpeggio of the second part of the song, where I find the second chord very special. Sometimes there is a variation in the Am7 chord, as you can listen in the second half of the previous audio.


The bass line that appears in the second half seems excellent to me. With weight in some notes, it unfolds with flourishes between the chords, and by leaning on a chromatic descent it adopts a very interesting color.

The bass goes through an effects chain that consists of the Guitar Rig with a DI-bass preset, an Rbass from the Waves plugins boosting the 77Hz band to give it thickness, and the EKramer from Waves that works as bass channel to give even more body and color to the bass sound.

bass guitar rig
kramer plugin



The beat of the first part of the song is a loop that I have sampled directly from the original song to speed things up, you can listen to it below. It was not necessary to put any effect on it since it sounds perfect.

Drum beat Part 1

For the second part of the song, I have built myself a kit with loose drum sounds pulling from sound library with hip-hop or R&B style. You can surely find a lot of drum kit libraries on the internet (that's how I got a lot of mine). Once I found some sounds similar to the original song, I put a very fast delay on the snare with the Soundtoys Echoboy, and ran the entire drum kit through the Goodhertz Vulf Compressor to make it compact. Finally I put it all through the RC-20 Retro Color putting some reverb and a touch of tape feeling. Below you can listen to the drums without and with the RC-20 Retro Color to appreciate the difference. It works wonders!

RC retro color

Drum beat Part 2 without RC-20 Retro Color plugin

Drum beat Part 2 with RC-20 Retro Color plugin

By the way, I also added a metallic background chime sound that I seem to hear in the original song. You can perceive it in the previous audio, or in the following audio separately.



Although replicating the voices of Kali Uchis is not within my reach, I did want to do some choruses that appear in the first part of the song. To give them density, I have recorded 6 different vocal tracks, of which 4 are the main ones and another 2 tracks make the same chorus over an interval of 4th, all of them panned in pairs in L and R.

The voices are passed through another chain of effects that consists of an autotune to keep the notes properly sustained, a Vocal Rider of Waves to level the volume, a standard EQ for voices, the Echoboy delay of soundtoys and a reverb with the plugin ValhallaVintageVerb.

valhalla reverb vocals

Here you can listen to the solo vocals.


I hope that all this deconstruction has helped you to understand a little more how songs are composed step by step. See you in the next article, don't forget to watch the full remake video in Youtube and hit subscribe!

David Alonso patreonthanks for reading!

If you liked it, or if you want to download the Ableton Projects with the
plugins used and all the tracks & midi files by one click, check out my Patreon page!

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