At least from the outside, Remi Wolf’s career so far has seemed like one long psychedelic dream. Rife with rich wordplay, Wolf’s songs are known as much for her powerhouse vocals as they are for their riveting and “can’t-recreate-it” spin on the possibilities of pop. These songs don’t just sound like your typical pop confetti– they’ve got heart and soul, in varying degrees of neon color.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the inimitable Wolf, who officially started her music career with a bang in 2019 and hasn’t let up since, is also someone who carefully articulates exactly what she wants. Wolf often punctuates her responses to my questions with long beats as she thinks through a question and what she wants to say, before ultimately responding with intent fully thought out. LADYGUNN had the pleasure of catching up with Wolf, where we talked about everything from the joys of screaming and crying on roller coasters to growing pains and gains in various degrees.
How are you?
Recently I have been going on tour and in the time off, I’ve been writing a bunch of new songs, and that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing. And eating food and binge watching Ted Lasso on TV.
I love Ted Lasso, it’s like an instant heartwarm every time.
Yeah. It’s really so good. It’s the most comforting show. And it could easily be really cheesy but they do it so well, I don’t know how they do it. Yeah, it’s really awesome.
What’s been a memorable experience this year so far?
I went to Disneyland, on Saturday. That was fun, I haven’t been there in like ten years. I got to ride a roller coaster… it’s crazy actually. I love roller coasters. They’re so fun. I don’t think there’s any other place in the world where you can scream and laugh at the top of your lungs and it’s totally fine.
It was great. I’ve never laughed like that in public. And screaming. Yes. Crazy times. I love Disneyland, I’m not a Disney adult, though.
How do you find balance in your life? Or what do you hope to do to find balance, if that’s something you’re still working on?
Yeah, I think that’s definitely an active pursuit. And I’m trying to take everything as it comes and not put too much pressure on myself, and within that, I kind of find balance. Because I think for a lot of my life and a lot earlier in my career, I would put pressure on myself to be doing something. Say I was on tour, I’d be like “fuck I need to be writing a bunch of songs right now, ugh I’m wasting all this time or whatever”. Like at this point I’m trying to just accept everything as it comes, wholeheartedly and give everything my all and not put too much pressure on myself to be okay at every moment, or happy all the time. I don’t know, I have a history of putting a lot of pressure on myself emotionally with work, and I’m trying not to do that as much. Take it easy on myself.
I wanted to talk to you about your songs. I love how vibrant, how fun they are but listening to the lyrics, you also cover so much emotional ground. I’m always curious when I talk to music artists, what’s it like having to put your life into these songs, and do you feel like you have boundaries in how you are as a music artist and also making sure you protect yourself as a real human person?
Yeah, that’s an interesting question. The whole boundaries thing is kind of a hard question to answer because when I’m making my music, for the most part I try to block out anything in my head regarding what other people are gonna think of it, or– if something is too personal– I try to not let my brain go there. And yeah, I do talk about a lot of personal shit but I think in the writing of my lyrics, I tend to take a kind of surrealistic, abstract approach to writing. And I kind of just try to let my brain take me down these visual wormholes. I try to describe my emotions with imagery. Which, I think, maybe a lot of times people feel the intent behind them, even though they don’t get exactly what I’m saying, and in that, I have a pretty decent amount of privacy.
But that’s actually something I’ve been trying to work on in my newest writing, is being more upfront with exact details about what is going on in my life. I love what I’ve worked on and I love all of my songs. But I’m actively trying to be like, a little bit more… I don’t know, I guess just in your face with the vulnerability and the reality of what’s going on with me.
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Do you feel like you have any important routines you have to do in your day to day life?
I don’t really have any typical routines except for I shower every morning, and I brush my teeth day and night. And I have some sort of caffeine every morning, around like, 10 or 11 o’clock. And that’s kinda as far as it goes. I use the same face lotions every day. I don’t know, there’s very few things I need to kind of keep me okay, and also the term “okay” is very relative. I don’t even know what the fuck that means anyway. Yeah. I live my life pretty routine-less, I would say. And that’s alright with me. I like it better like that. I kind of grew up in a bit of a chaotic household, with a lot of people, and everybody had a lot to do all the time, and I had a lot to do when I was younger too, and I was traveling a lot as an athlete. It’s not too big of a challenge to stay level-headed through the chaos.
It sounds like it’s freeing to not have forced structures and whatnot.
Totally, it’s like the most freeing thing in the world. This is how I want to live. I love being my little nomadic self.
It’s also that thing of, once you’re an adult, you realize like, oh my god, I can eat gummy worms for dinner if I want to, no one’s stopping me. I can spend my money how I want.
Totally. And I definitely came into that attitude in the past year. I think I had all these weird… I don’t know, I feel anyone in their 20s has their parents’ voices in their head, at all times. To a certain point, where you’re like, wait. Fuck that shit. I have a job, I pay for my own house. I’m just gonna do whatever the fuck I want. And I’m definitely in that mode right now. I think it’s the best place to be.
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What’s something you’ve been obsessed with lately? Anything you’d really want to recommend to people if you could?
Okay, I’m obsessed with Ted Lasso. It’s great, it’s fucking amazing. And I’m in an obsession with Courage Bagels, which is this bagel shop in LA. I love Liz Phair. I love her album, Exile In Guyville 1993. Best album ever.
If you could describe your creative process as a place, what would be in it? A minimalistic modernist living room? A kooky mansion? A stuffy basement? A desert oasis filled with tropical birds?
Yeah, definitely. I thrive in spaces with a lot of life. Walls made out of windows, pretty much. It probably would be like a living room with all windows, attached to a kitchen with a fully stocked fridge. And the kitchen would probably be like a cabinet type space. Cabin vibes. Very homey, lots of woods and leathers and rugs. Very warm. I love warmth. And I love light. Warmth and light. Any space with a lot of warmth and light really calls my name. And lots of plants and green and foliage around. But not really flowers. I don’t really give a fuck about flowers. Mainly greens, like dark greens, browns, trees. A candle, potted chili, corn…maybe some bacon.
What do you think the hardest part is about making music?
Oh my god. It’s strange because it’s so easy in some ways, and then in other ways, it’s like the hardest thing in the world. I think the hardest part about making music is being in the right headspace to make music. It takes a lot for me, at least, to be in the right headspace to sit down and really craft a song, or even like, go to somebody’s studio and collaborate. There’s such an ebb and flow to the songwriting process, and it can be frustrating when you’re in this period of not wanting to write, because you feel bad about yourself, or you just feel like… I don’t know, it just feels wrong. But then suddenly, out of the blue one day, it’ll just hit you and you’re like, “fuck, I need to write a million songs for the next three weeks.” I think maybe just the unpredictability of the creative process is distinct for me.
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How do you know when a song is done?
How do I know when a song is done? When I’m fucking exhausted from hearing it a million times, and it’s like, good enough, honestly. Because you can work on a song forever, you can tweak a song forever, you can mix a song forever, you can master a song forever… at some point, you just have to call it. There’s endless things that you can do, there’s endless plugins you can use, endless melody rewrites, endless lyric changes. Like there’s endless shit, and at some point you just gotta be like, “Alright. Did I express myself in the way that I wanted to express myself? Did I say something that I mean and is this my soul?” And as long as it’s that, you just gotta call it at some point. Because there’s a point where you start tweaking shit too much where it starts disintegrating, where the meaning of the song or the soul of the song starts to go away. And I think that’s when you gotta step back and be like, alright I’m done.
What’s your outlook on the future like? How do you look back on the past?
Okay, this might sound like corny/cheesy vibes but I really have been very much trying to live my life in the present moment. I have to plan my future or whatever, just cause touring and writing albums and shit like that, but I do a lot better mentally when I don’t think about it too much, and I just try to enjoy my day, and enjoy whatever I’m doing, in the moment, man. It sounds cheez, but it’s kinda how I’ve been trying to live. And of course I have dreams and aspirations, goals, blahblahblah. But it doesn’t seem much good to think about it that often.
I definitely get that, because it’s like– why are you thinking about the future when where you’re at in the present is kinda the most important. Because you can only live in the present with your physical being.
No, exactly. And I guess with my past… I’ve been trying to make peace with mistakes I’ve made. I’m still trying to make peace with my past self right now, because I’ve been very hard on that person for a really long time. I’m going through this thing right now, where I’m trying to just really ease up on myself a lot. Because I can get into, self-hatred mode and spiral out of fucking control, thinking about shit I’ve done, shit I’m doing, shit I’m gonna do… I get pretty dark on it pretty quickly. So I’ve been trying to give myself a little bit of grace. Forgive my past self, make friends with my past self. You know? Like, it’s okay, little Remi. You did that shit you were fucking… 19 years old. You’re okay. Nobody fucking knows what they’re doing, we’re all fucking idiots. Nothing makes sense, we’re all just trying to get by.
I feel like especially post-quarantine too, people are like… you’ve spent a whole year in lockdown, coming out of it, it’s always so interesting hearing about how people are self-reflecting now, and thinking of what they’re doing.
It’s super real. Also, through the pandemic, I think, the US, online, maybe the world, took on this role of being productive, and being positive through the most awful thing that’s ever happened to a lot of us. I mean, the hardest two years, you know, collectively. And there’s a lot of this like, positivity, almost a toxic positivity, and there’s a lot of people comparing themselves to what other people were doing during their quarantine. And people having the most productive quarantine, or whatever the fuck. And I kind of felt that too. I mean yeah, I wrote an album during quarantine. I really fucking hustled that shit. But coming out of it, you’re like, damn. All of that positivity was such a crazy coping mechanism and I think people are kind of, maybe tired of holding up that facade of “everything’s okay, we’re gonna keep pushing”.
Now people are okay with saying things are not okay, I’m not happy with my job. Getting that type of honesty out of 2020, I think, has been a blessing in a way.
It’s sick. It feels everyone’s doing what they want. Or that’s what it feels to me, at least. Everybody’s moving forwards in really figuring out what they want in life, what’s important, and what’s important to them. You know? Because everybody’s different.
I know you have an insanely dedicated work ethic. What drives you to keep doing it, every day? Has that drive evolved or changed since you started making music?
The number one reason why I make music is because I love making music. And I love hanging out with people, I love jamming, I love to sing, it’s one of the only healthy ways I have of expressing myself. And I need to do it. There’s times where it’s hard to remember that. You can get so wrapped up in, touring and the exhaustion and the endless social media bullshit and all the fucking… I don’t know, you can get wrapped up in everybody else’s careers, and comparing yourself to other artists and shit. There’s so many things that have the capacity to take you down a brutal mental health rabbit hole. But ultimately I always have to come back to, I love doing this because this is how I express myself and there’s no other way for me to really express myself that feels like a complete expression.
I guess I also love performing as well. I love the community element of my job, I love bringing people together. I love seeing people have the best night of their lives. And the fact that I’m able to do that for people is the most rewarding thing for me. Which is a very new part of my life and part of my career, that thank god, now that COVID is over I’m able to experience. And yeah, that shit is sick. And even when I was in college and performing at like, seedy house parties and shit, that was also one of my favorite parts of making music and putting my personal expressions in the live show. So that’s also what keeps me going as well.
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I know that people are always telling you, the press is always like, “Remi Wolf is the future of pop” and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that your music is very refreshing and is set apart from more conventional pop sounds. That got me thinking, if you were to pick any other historical era to live in, where would you want to be?
Maybe Italy in the 70s, Italian disco era. I think that’d be pretty fucking fun. It’s not even my favorite music, but it just sounds like Italy in the 70s would be a great place to be.
San Francisco in the 70s sounds pretty fucking fun. In the late 60s, early 70s would be pretty fun.
What characterized SF during that time?
Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, Haight-Ashbury, Hippie movements, freedom, lots of weed and cocaine. Free love, everybody’s naked. Great music… I don’t know anything about the food but the food was probably alright. Oh! Lots of Italian food, probably a lot of Japanese food at that point as well. And Chinese food. Because lots of immigration was going on at that point as well.
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What’s something you’re really proud of for yourself?
This is a work thing, but I am a new ambassador for Croc shoes, and we shot this whole campaign. I creative directed the whole thing, which is one of my first times I’ve singularly creative directed something. I just love how it turned out, and I’m very proud of myself. And it’s cool that I was given the freedom by a company, and they put their trust in me to make that happen.
I bought a car. I’m proud of buying a car.
I think that’s a huge step for anyone!
Exactly. It’s my first car that I’ve owned… yeah, my first car that I’ve ever owned! Literally. I fucking love it. I love my car. It’s a little convertible and it’s really fun.