We caught up with 26-year-old Californian musician Remi Wolf about her dreams of getting rained on at Glastonbury, the electricity of the New York City music scene, recording her songs in Simlish, and her mental struggles during the pandemic.
Awakening our senses with her own brand of pop, Remi Wolf ignites ears and eyes with her unique genre of music – subverting all expectations and boasting every colour of the rainbow while at it. The musician has just announced two UK shows for 2022, where she’ll be spreading her infectious energy in Manchester and London this June.
Wolf is a powerhouse when it comes to songwriting; her inherent perfectionism and determination enables her to productively filter what goes on inside her brain, into her computer, and then into a hit-song with a masterful combination of sound, design and vibrant visuals.
In June 2020, Wolf released her second EP and major-label debut ‘I’m Allergic To Dogs!’ followed by her debut studio album, ‘Juno’, in October 2021. Despite the title of her EP, Remi is a proud dog-mum of a French bulldog named Juno, whom she lovingly named the album after.
Wolf’s fast-paced career hasn’t afforded her much time to reflect on her progress since she began releasing music three years ago. But with an already impressive string of career highlights and various collaborations with artists such as such as Cautious Clay, Hot Chip, and Porches, Wolf is making her way to becoming the latest and greatest artist of our generation – executing lyrical realness and bringing people out of their comfort zones.
Notion catches up with Remi Wolf to discuss the artists she’s loved collaborating with the most, how she found perspective after the struggles of a global pandemic, and what will be an exciting year of experimental music ahead – including a deluxe album on the horizon.
Your NYC shows looked wild. How does the NYC music crowd compare to that of San Fran’s?
Across the board at every show, the crowds are all pretty comparable in terms of the energy they bring. I think that I bring so much energy to the stage that it forces people to get out of their comfort zones. The crowds are really great. But New York – I feel like the New York crowd always has kind of a specific mania to it. Like a real electricity. Whereas San Francisco kind of has like a more relaxed, like, ‘we’re smoking weed’ vibe. But they’re both great. The New York shows were insane, actually. Like, crazy insane.
And do you always wear no shoes on stage?
No. That was kind of a bad call. I developed shin splints after this past tour, and I think it was because I wasn’t wearing shoes that supported me well enough. I love being barefoot, but I think I’m gonna have to refine that a little bit. I might need to get some running trainers or something.
So, you’re allergic to dogs. How long have you had Juno for – I’m assuming he’s hypoallergenic?
He’s not. I’ve had him since, like, the first week of Covid. So, beginning of 2020. He’s been with my parents for the past two months because I’ve been touring, and they love him so it’s an easy little trade-off. And I’m going back on the road again in like five days, so he stayed with them because they’re all the way up in the Bay Area and I’m working a lot right now. Hopefully I’ll see him really soon. I am allergic to him; it’s kind of a bummer. I kind of just power through it. He’s a beautiful baby.
And were you always going to name the album after him?
No. It was kind of all formulated during the middle of the album process. We kind of got to the end of the album and I was like, ‘damn, what am I gonna name this?’ and Juno was like, there, the whole time. He was with me for every single song I wrote on this record. His name was always in my head. I was screaming his name over and over. And then I just decided that I was gonna name it “Juno”.
Obviously, you’re super busy. But have you binge-watched anything recently? What’s the last series you binge-watched?
Yes, oh my God. I do these, like, late night binge-watch sessions where I’ll get home at ten from work and I’ll accidentally stay up until five o’clock in the morning binge-watching things. I don’t know, I don’t watch that much TV but every two weeks I’ll do that with a new show. So, the most recent one was the Anna Delvey show [Inventing Anna]. I really loved it, like so much. I watched nine episodes in a row which is a solid nine hours. It kind of fucked up my whole week. I also watched Euphoria – I didn’t binge it because I’ve been watching it with the weeks. But that’s also great.
Is there a song of yours you’d want to be featured on Euphoria? Or any series?
Yeah, for sure. I’d love to put a song in Euphoria. I have a couple that are coming out that I feel like could be really good songs, but I can’t really talk about them. I mean, yeah, I would love any of my songs in any show – I think that’s kind of a great ordeal. I’ve actually had a lot of songs in a bunch of different TV shows, so it’s been pretty sick to watch that whole thing happen. Not even all the same songs; different songs across the board.
What has been your biggest “pinch me!” moment to date? How do you feel when you look back on everything you’ve achieved?
It’s weird because when stuff is happening in real-time you don’t feel that feeling. I have not felt the “pinch me” at all. Except for, I don’t know, maybe selling out two Webster Halls and two Fondas. Selling out my entire tour within a day was kind of crazy. But, I mean, I guess just looking back on my entire career it’s crazy that my music caught on so quickly. I started releasing music and within a matter of months, it was going – fast. I think the nature of my career has been so quick-paced. I think that’s the thing that has shocked me the most. It’s crazy that I’m here in like, three years. It’s wild.
Have you ever been to Glastonbury festival? Would you love to play there?
No! It’s my dream. I really wanna go. I’d love to play there; I wanna wear rain boots and stomp around in mud and go camping and shit. It sounds like a perfect festival. One of my friends went and I think it was raining and she was wearing a full poncho and rain boots. I’m into it. It sounds like an experience. I would be down for the rain.
I was surprised but also not surprised to read that you once skied competitively. Are you still an avid skier? I can imagine you wearing the coolest all-in-one ski suits!
Not quite as much as I used to be. I haven’t skied in a while, but I plan to go as soon as I can. I was trying to go this winter, but my schedule is jam-packed. Maybe I’ll end up going to Colorado or something but yeah, I used to be a ski racer for ten years. It now just feels like a past life to me. I’m so far removed from it. But I think it taught me a lot of lessons in drive, hard work, training, getting stuff done and putting a lot of time into something repetitively every week. It gave me this feeling of go, go, go, go, go, which I still have. I’m kind of addicted to that feeling of constantly moving. If I’m ever static for too long, I can go a little bit nuts.
You seem to draw inspiration from every colour there is. What is your favourite colour?
Green! It’s a calming colour. Green and brown right now. Like trees. I kinda look like a tree.
You’ve mentioned in a few of your interviews that you’re a perfectionist, yet your music has been described as sort of “hippie chaotic”. How do you find perfectionism in chaos? Or how would you define it?
First of all, I don’t think the perfectionism thing is a good thing. I think it’s something that holds me back a lot of the time. But also, I just hear specific things and I know how I want things to sound and maybe to other people what I hear is chaotic but to me it’s very organised. It’s like a very organised chaos in my head. There’s a certain point within the song creation process when I have a very clear vision in terms of how I want it to sound. I’ll run myself crazy trying to get that. You never really quite nail it, at all. My brain goes a little nuts. I see and hear it and I try to get that into the song and into the computer as quickly as possible. It’s not chaotic in my brain. My brain moves really quickly. The musical ideas and the lyrics and what I’m trying to talk about in my head is very organised. In my head it’s all makin’ sense!
Did you get inspiration from The Sims for your music visuals? Have you ever played Sims?
I have literally only played Sims once in my life. I’m not really a video games person. If I ever played games, it was like cooking games on the Wii. Cooking Mama! Cooking Mama was so fun. And then I would play, like, Wii Tennis or like Mario Tennis or Mario Kart, stuff like that. The computer games I wasn’t as into. For a lot of those visuals, I got a lot of my inspo from Spy Kids.
Would you consider recording any of your songs in Simlish?
Yeah, why not? That’d be fun! I’d just need somebody to translate ‘em. But as soon as I get that done, I’m down to give it a shot. That is honestly a very good idea.
Do you think the tension and isolation of recording during the pandemic helped to birth or hinder Juno?
Definitely birth. I mean, it was horrible. Isolation was awful. I was really, super depressed and super existential which luckily, I was able to channel into something. I’m so much happier being out of isolation right now, it’s insane. When we were all in it, it was hard to attribute the bad feelings and the spinout. For me, it was hard to attribute it to the quarantine, I was like – what’s wrong with me? Why am I not able to feel OK when everybody online is so fucking positive? Everybody was on this weird toxic positive health shit. It felt like I was doing something wrong because I felt so bad. But now that I’m out, it was all quarantine. We’re not built to live like that as humans, we need contact – we need to go outside and experience things. So yeah, I think it was great for my art – horrible for me personally. It got bad online. People were a little preach-y. It was hard to wake up and do anything or get anything done. I felt so defeated.
Are you already working on your next album? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m putting together a Deluxe album right now which will have some new tunes. I’m working on a lot of music right now. Who knows how it’s all going to formulate? I’m pumped. I’m trying to find myself again with my writing. I’m shooting my shot at a lot of different stuff and I’m working with a lot of different people and I’m trying to re-figure out what feels good to me. I’m in my experimental phase of life. A lot of fun to be had and so many things to learn. This whole year, I’m touring in a bunch of places I’ve never been before in my life. I’m going into waters I’ve never been in. I think it’s gonna be a big learning year for me.
Which artist have you enjoyed collaborating with the most?
I love working with Ethan Gruska. He’s a producer. I made Street You Live On with him. I love him very much. I mean, I love Jared who I’ve made all my music with thus far. Right now, we’re both on our own little paths to artistic and self-discovery because we were together every day for like, four years. So, we’re trying to grow a little bit right now, but we still work together all the time. And I just worked with this artist – Hether – who’s really amazing and I love his music. We worked together the other day and it was amazing. I just met him. I’ve been listening to him for a while. Oh, and Kenny Beats – I love working with Kenny. He’s fun.
Did you coin the collective noun for your fanbase, “Remjobs”? Or where did this come from?
It actually came from one of my coaches who, when I was skiing, one day just started calling me “Remjob” and at the time I didn’t even know what it meant. I found out what it meant a little later on. People have just, like, one-off called me that for a lot of my life and I thought it was funny. Also, I like calling my fans other things like little babies or little chickens or little piggies. There are a lot of other things that I refer to them as, maybe in the privacy of my own home.
What’s your favourite track on Juno and why?
I really like Grumpy Old Man. I love that song. I think it felt really good to make. It was so – it came out of me so easily. So naturally. I was talking about some real stuff in there but it’s also so fun and it feels very nostalgic to me, and I really like that feeling. I love a chorus that everybody can chant to. It’s very, like, tribal. I really love that song; it’s so fun to play it live.