Remi Wolf hasn’t even released a proper full-length album yet, but her just-released remix project We Love Dogs! features reworkings of her catalog of songs by a cadre of record store heroes including Beck, Panda Bear, Hot Chip, and the legendary Niles Rodgers. Clearly there’s buzz.
A graduate of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Wolf has been steadily gaining traction since the release of her first single, “Guy,” in 2019. The cross-genre tracks we’ve heard since are tinged with funk and held together by her powerhouse voice. As part of a larger exploration of Spotify’s emerging Lorem playlist, we talked to Wolf about her childhood girl group, her favorite TikTok, and finding inspiration in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
You have a lifelong background in music. You actually have a degree in musical theory as well.
My story goes back to when I was in fourth grade when I really started singing in front of people. I had this little girl group, it was like a trio barbershop quartet-style girl group. We started it when I was in sixth grade and we would perform at preschools, and backyard benefit concerts, and stuff like that. That's where I learned how to sing with other people and how to harmonize, and the basics of singing. I kind of branched off from that with one of the girls, her name was Chloe. We branched off and started our own little band Remi and Chloe in my freshman year of high school. That's how I started to write songs.
Was this something you did with professional aspirations in mind or just kind of something you were doing for fun?
Absolutely no professional aspirations at all. I think it was, like, half for my parents to get us girls doing something after school, and half we were all really good friends. We did have a teacher, her name was Iris and we went to her once a week. We performed at my eighth-grade graduation. We were called Citrus Girl. It was cute. When we were performed, we'd be like, “I'm Remi and I'm a lime.” “I'm Chloe and I'm a lemon” That's really bad but funny in hindsight.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
I have a lot, to be honest. It's hard to boil it down. I think my first huge musical crush slash inspiration was John Mayer. My mom used to listen to him all the time. He had a song on a CSI episode or something, and then she became obsessed with him. Continuum was the first album that I loved so much and was like, ‘Whoa, this music is crazy.’ I love Erykah Badu so much. I love Chaka Khan. I love bold singers and clever songwriters: Like, I love Prince, I love Sheryl Crow, I love Sublime.
That’s a pretty large mix.
I could keep going forever. I just really love artists who have been able to create their own identity, their own sound and their own world. And I feel like John Mayer did that. Erykah Badu did that.
How did you start to develop your own aesthetic?
I've been dressing crazy with colors since I was like four years old. My mom has plenty of stories where my aunt was like, “Remi's wearing too many patterns. We can't go out in public.” And my mom was just like, “Dude, you just got to let her wear whatever the hell she wants.”
Then on top of that, I really wanted to find somebody to collaborate with for all of my videos that would kind of get my style. I wanted things to feel like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where on the surface it’s a very fun movie, but there's a lot of dark undertones. I wanted to tap into that energy. I feel like that’s how my music is. It sounds really happy, but if you actually dig into the lyrics I’m saying some fucked up shit.
I ended up searching on Instagram for like four months trying to find somebody. I was just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Finally, I found this girl Agusta Yr. I just loved all of her colors, her saturation, her sense of humor.
Do you have a favorite TikTok?
Oh my God. So many. One TikTok my friend group have been playing a lot is the one where that guy is walking in the kitchen and then he gets to the pot of beans and he goes “Beans!”
You’ve got a remix collection coming out, is there anything else on the horizon?
Yeah, I have Beck and Kimbra and Sylvan Esso remixes. A lot of my favorite artists and people that I idolized have hopped on tracks, so that's going to be like super amazing. Then I'm in the middle of making an album right now. So I feel 2021 is going to be a big year for me.
How did the Beck remix come about?
We sent him my song “Sauce” over email. He listened to it and he was just a fan. Like, he really liked the song and was like, yeah, I'm going to remix it. He took like a month or something to remix it and he sent it to me and I cried when I heard it for the first time. Then I talked to him on the phone. Hopefully, we’re gonna actually get in the studio and make some music together.