1979 to 1998
(Kaniela Ka lei ali’i O’kalani Kala’i December 18, 1979)
Kalai was born in Hawaii and raised in the A.K. Son of a Ke ho alu cowboy and mothered by a good woman with heavy burdens. Ten years of life, most of them spent as an Alaskan, yielded him a wisdom of wilderness and a man’s knowledge of hard times. He later left high school tooling a guitar at sixteen and building a recordable repertoir by age seventeen. The latter half of his adolescence becoming then devoted to the ironic expression of that which was passing him by.
1998 to 2000
Several explorative tangents dictated Kalai’s pace of life for the next few years although music remained a surviving therapy for him. At eighteen he relocated south with the intention of attaining a college degree in entomology. He completed one year of school working as a commercial fly tyer for international fly-fishing outfitters such as L.L. Bean and Cabela’s. He also wrote story-based and “How to” articles for several outdoor life publications such as Rod & Reel and Fly Fisherman.
2000 to 2002
Discovering that the exploitation of his wooded childhood nostalgia brought him no closer to returning to it, Kalai made a conscious decision to pave a career path in music. At twenty-one aided by friend, Sam Cardon, he began production on his professional debut “Acoustacism” on the Treble V Music label (Innovators, Digability, Soulmate, Innovators II). Acoustacism featured drummer Rick Sinese who would later become a regular member of Kalai’s band. Then at twenty-two Kalai returned home to Anchorage, Alaska to construct an in-house studio where he would produce his second album “Six Strings And The Rainy Day Man”, an album on which he would perform all of the instrumentation as well as engineering, mixing, and cover-art.
2002 to 2003
Since Kalai’s first two albums were recorded almost back to back he was unable to perform extensively until his second album was released. He then began to establish his live shows, sometimes playing acoustic but also joining forces with premiere bassist Eric Wallengren (Karizma, Louise Goffen, Poor Arnold). The two performed dozens of vocal/guitar/bass shows together. The duo was then joined by veteran drummer Rick “Sneez” Sinese (Sam Cardon, The Given, Dixie Chicks) adding a third dimension and a sense of foundation for larger shows. While still performing a twenty-three yr. old Kalai began work on his third record “Rebel Hands”.
2003 to 2004
His third Treble V Music release, Rebel Hands, was an undertaking from writing to printing. It became an eight-month, fifteen peice process that used music to bury bad memories and mourn family tragedies. The cover sports a tailored work from accomplished Painter, Graff Artist and Illustrator Ben McPherson. The material explores Kalai’s most intentional lyrics, original compositions, and savvy productions yet.