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The pop-punk goddess Cali Rodi builds her brand off of the nostalgia from early 2000’s emo bands like Blink 182 and Paramore, and we are so here for it. Her new song “Blink-182 + u” shows us just that. Angsty lyrics, over pop instrumentals, and aching vocals. She makes us all wonder why we haven’t been to a Warped Tour since high school.

Cali comes from the work ethic of Nashville, which is a daytime, BYOG (bring your own guitar) and enjoy the rest of your day having basically finished a song kind of life. And since moving to LA the lifestyle, she admits, is very different. Sometimes, you just have to eat Hot Cheetos for dinner and never sleep. We’ve all been there. And we always find that the best stuff comes out of 2AM thoughts and empty stomachs. We got to talk to the LA-based singer-songwriter about her transition from Nashville to LA, how she got into music, and of course writing “Blink 182 + u.”

What was it like going to college in Nashville? How’s the music scene there compared to LA? How has the transition been?

I went to Nashville’s Belmont University, primarily a music school, for one year. I was determined to learn everything I could about the music industry (mostly how not to get screwed over), then I left to dive head first into being an artist. I made great friends, found amazing collaborators, and started writing 24/7, wiggling my way into any studio session possible. The music scene in Nashville is very structured-you show up with a guitar at 11am and you’re out the door with a finished voice note of a song before dinner. It’s also very much a storytelling town, where lyrics are front and center. When I moved to LA, it was an adjustment. LA sessions are more “track” based (people were confused when I brought my guitar to the studio), and lyrics are more of a secondary layer. But I still slave over the perfect combination of words, which I see as my strength in the room. In Los Angeles, we’ll stay in the studio until 2am to get it right. We might eat Hot Cheetos for dinner, but we’ll get the song!

I know you pull a lot of inspiration from early 2000s music like Blink 182. What exactly about that era of music inspires you?

There has always been this popstar-punk pendulum in my musical upbringing that I still carry with me into the studio when it comes to making my own music. I’m inspired by the grit AND the glamour.

What was it like writing “Blink 182 + u”? Was there a specific starting point for this song?

Some songs just seem to fall out of the sky, and “blink-182 + u” was one of those songs. My friend and frequent collaborator Emily Haber and I were hanging out on a porch with a guitar late one night talking about how we missed being kids in the basement blasting Blink songs. I was going through a confusing breakup at the time and was listening to “I Miss You” on repeat. We used both of these themes as ammunition to pen what is now “blink-182 + u.” For me it’s about a relationship or a feeling, depending on the day.

What got you into music? Has it something always been inside you or do you remember a certain moment where you were like this is what I want to do?

My parents say I was the loudest baby in the nursery. Music has always been inside me, and I’ve always felt like I had a lot to say. I used to tie my shirt up like all the popstars I saw in music videos and dance around the living room and make my family buy paper tickets to my “shows.” I would have “American Idol” themed birthday parties just to have an excuse to belt into a microphone in front of all my friends. When I was twelve, I had my first real gig- just me and my guitar- in an old cowboy bar and I remember looking out into the audience and people were actually listening. I felt this adrenaline rush that I knew I wanted to feel forever.

Which songs are you listening to on repeat nowadays?

Cotton Candy by YUNGBLUD, damn Right by Audrey Nuna, Right With You by Patrick Droney, and the whole new Hayley Williams (of Paramore) solo record! I’ve also been diving back into No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom”- I always find myself leaning into Gwen Stefani’s writing when I need inspiration.

What’s some of the best advice someone ever gave you?

“If he can kiss you, he can call you.” – Mom

What has excited you lately? What can we expect next from you?

Lately I’ve been ultra focused on visual content. Before the pandemic, all my attention was geared towards live performances and hibernating in studios, but everything has changed so much. Now I get so excited to come up with concepts for new music videos, social media posts, and live streams. I started a video series called PLANS (Parking Lot Acoustic Night Sessions) that brings a whole new level of energy to my project. It’s been so fun experimenting with stripping down songs and coming up with arrangements for covers. I’m looking at it like a tour-except I’m traveling to phone screens! And I’m proud to say there is more new music coming in the new year.



photos / Easton Schirra

story / Vogue Giambri

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