By the time Remi Wolf started high school in the Bay Area, she had joined a music center that held recitals every week. “I was constantly learning new songs and classics, Like Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys,” she recalls. “Getting to learn a bunch of songs and perform a lot was definitely foundational.”
At the same time, she had to split her time training as a competitive skier; she attended school two days a week, which she complemented with an independent study program through junior year. “That’s when I decided to stop doing that myself, because it was crazy,” she says.
As skiing fell to the sidelines, she spent the next decade trying to figure out who she wanted to be as an artist. She started writing songs in college — she attended USC’s Thornton School of Music — and by the time she graduated, she says she “started finding my sound production-wise.”
She started uploading her music online, occupying the space of pop-funk, and now, after signing a recording contract with Island Records at the top of the year, the 24-year-old is ready to “unleash” her first major-label EP, I’m Allergic To Dogs!, which will arrive June 24.
Between the ages of 7-17, Wolf commuted from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe almost weekly (and even lived there for a few years) to hone her ski racing skills. All the while, she was juggling multiple music projects — from singing in a female “barbershop quartet-style” trio, to writing and performing songs around her hometown in a band with friends. But her sport only grew more demanding, and eventually something had to give; at 18, Wolf decided to prioritize music. Soon after making that decision, and while still a high school senior, Wolf auditioned for American Idol (she sang Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”) and her performance ended up airing on the 2014 season. She quickly put the show behind her and moved to Los Angeles for college, where she studied music theory and history, and became much more interested in writing her own songs. She says of one of her earliest compositions, “Crawl,” written her junior year: “That was the first song where I really felt like I told the truth.”
By the fall of 2019, after college graduation, Wolf was eager to take her project to the next level by scoring a recording contract. That summer, she had organized a mini concert tour in New York City, and Island Records A&R representative Hill Coulson happened to catch one of her sets. By September of that year, she started negotiating with the label and by this January, she signed the contract. Wolf says she knew that Coulson “would have my back and be on my side,” and she was impressed with Island president Darcus Beese’s track record of signing acts like Amy Winehouse and Florence + the Machine. Her first Island release, “Woo!” arrived in April accompanied by a far-out video. “I always knew I wanted my visuals to be really drastic, pretty crazy,” says Wolf, referring to her zany concepts for songs like “Woo!” and “Disco Man.” “I felt like the only way I could do that was to be backed by a company that had the funds to make that happen.”
Wolf had planned to spend her spring supporting Republic Records breakout BENEE on a tour that has since been postponed due to the pandemic, but has developed a strong quarantine game plan in the meantime: “I’ve taken the route of, ‘Make these videos, release content, post on social media, reply to people’s PMs and pray that people connect with my music,” she says of her her upcoming EP that follows 2019’s You’re A Dog! Wolf also recognizes that all artists are all in the same boat — and that she’s not alone in this incredibly uncertain time. “We’re all mutually trying to find ways to get our music heard and connect with fans in really creative ways,” she says. “It’s a whole other ball game.”