This article appears in FLOOD 12: The Los Angeles Problem. You can purchase this special 232-page print edition celebrating the people, places, music and art of LA here.
Remi Wolf is already talking about nostalgia, and his first album Juno hasn’t even come out yet. Well, it will be by the time you read this, but when I reach out to her on Zoom, it’s the day before her album comes out and she has a moment to catch her breath. She’s in bed at her Echo Park home, bundled up in a kelly green sweatshirt with “2003” scrawled across her chest. Over the past year, she’s achieved a variety of firsts, from headlining shows to festival slots, and it’s no surprise that one of the most significant of these – the release of his first album – causes him emotions to do loops like a ride at Six Flags. “I cried every day this week because I was so excited and sad and happy,” she reveals.
The overlooked irony of setting up any major creative project is that it’s as much a loss as a birth. For months, even years, artists prepare themselves and their work to present to the world. And then, like a parent saying goodbye to their child as they move house, the musician must step back and let the world welcome their songs. “It’s the babies,” Wolf said, his voice balancing a timbre of pride and tenderness. “Once they’re there, you kind of have to build a shelter around you, because you don’t know how they’re going to be received.”
With Juno being propelled into the world, Wolf shares that airing these psychedelic pop explosions isn’t as frivolous and fun as the music makes it sound. There’s hope that she raised them well, that giving them to her fans isn’t a form of abandonment or affecting her perception of herself – after all, children can be seen as the reflection of their parents and the values of a house. “I’m sure for parents, when their kids go out into the world, they have to put up some kind of wall and say, ‘OK, that’s not my responsibility anymore. “”
Even though she explains that she agreed to the process of spreading the word and portraying her artistry as part of the first release cycle, she cries talking about putting every minimum of her soul into these 13 tracks. Her eyes drift and her expression turns serious, registering the energy and time she has invested in her art. It’s the type of recognition that comes with lifting something until it has to walk on its own, hoping that the care and support you’ve given it will equate to longevity, or at least longevity. other arms open to support the weight. “I love them and I put my absolute” – she stops, grasping the gravity of this – “all my soul in them.”
“I‘I finally got to a point where I know my story. I know who I am. I‘I’ve hashed this shit out so many times and gone through the loops and existentialism about it.
When I ask what she’s been least prepared for in her whirlwind of preparation to share her creative offspring with the world, she has only one answer: the press. “Being asked about your identity and who you are as a person, who you are as an artist, every day for five months and having to rehash that fucking question, it’s really exhausting,” she says candidly. . “Even though I can say, ‘Oh, that’s just media journalism,’ it can get pretty existential because it’s not a normal thing to ask every day. But I’m finally at a point where I know my story. I know who I am. I’ve unleashed this shit so many times and been through the loops and loops and loops and existentialism about it, but I’m just like, ‘D’ Alright, bitch, get back on your feet, it’s just a fucking article,'” she said before apologizing.
Wolf is right about the repetitive madness of press cycles. But she’s a perfect example of how an artist’s personal ingenuity can be an escape or a comfort to a fan. Juno portrays her as both amusing and vulnerable. His music is brave, as if claymation were a musical genre, or if Mrs. Frizzle’s dresses were woven into a quilt of funk, chamber pop and psychedelic jazz. Over curlycue melodies and slip ‘n’ slide rhythm sections, she tackles the pressures of fame, the obligation to love family, drug addiction, pandemic isolation and fake friends. . Hugely catchy with unconventional lyrics, it playfully references serial killers, The human centipede, and orgies at Five Guys with, well, five guys. She finds the middle ground in the heaviness of life without taking herself too seriously.
The chaos that emerges from the mind of Remi Wolf is carefully produced with his friend Jared Solomon, aka Solomonophonic. While additional production was added by collaborators Kenny Beats, M-Phazes, Ethan Gruska, John Carroll Kirby and Elie Rizk, Juno gathered in an intimate environment with Wolf’s dog (whose album was named and who graces the cover) and Solomon. She became the reigning queen of (praised) bedroom pop, achieving one of the biggest albums of the year at various Airbnbs. That’s not how she envisioned making her debut album, but again, she had no expectations, only that it “be good”. She stretches the word, laughing at the vague categorization.
“I probably imagined myself in a fancy studio with gear and an engineer, especially after doing my two EPs in my bedroom or in the garage with the most horrible equipment ever,” she says. “After I signed to a label, I was like, ‘OK, let’s step it up. We’re going to a big studio. We’re gonna do this shit. I’m going to be a real artist in the studio,” and that didn’t happen. I realized through this process that I didn’t need the big studio – nobody really needs the big studio.
“But I like doing the Airbnb thing,” she continues. “I love having a hot tub next to me. I love being in the living room and then going to the kitchen and making lasagna. I just love living life and then having music there too.
Wolf has been based in Los Angeles for eight years. The city was the backdrop for his vital years of growth, and it’s found in the flaws of his music. “Get my Altadena milk,” she sings on “Sexy Villain.” On her song “Anthony Kiedis”, she uses the frontman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to capture the feeling of intrinsic love she has for her family. She read Kiedis’ book scar tissue and was moved by how, despite his father being “screwed up”, Kiedis still idolized him.
LA’s most indebted track is “Quiet on Set,” which takes a classic Hollywood setting and ignites it with another of Wolf’s early experiences. “It was the first time I was on one of those big sets where there are a lot of people. It was crazy because it was also in the middle of the pandemic so everyone was really masked up. We all had to take multiple COVID tests, and it was this crazy, very stressful situation,” she says, offering a little belly laugh as she thinks back on it. “They say that shit,” she laughs, referring to the title of the song.
She then offers an explanation of the restaurant name verification that occurs in the song. Over a frenetic keyboard and jammed hip-hop beat, her voice is a frantic lasagna of layers as she sings, “Hey guys, should I Postmates Chuck E. Cheese? / Wait, there’s no Chuck E. Cheese in Los Feliz. This unique line appeared when a friend was trying to order food, and the infamous animatronic arcade appeared as an option. “We were actually in the Valley at the time. We weren’t in Los Feliz,” she reveals. “But as soon as he said that, I was like, ‘We have to put that in the song. And then we were like, ‘What rhymes with Chuck E. Cheese? Los Feliz! It was an impulsive thing that we found hilarious. And then the food theme kind of spilled over into this song. I think we must have been really hungry that day,” she offers with another hearty laugh.
“I really hated the city during the pandemic. And now I love it again, now that I can go eat,” she smiles. “LA is the best food ever. You can get so many different cuisines. This is honestly my favorite part of LA. She shares that her favorite haunts are Korean BBQ in Koreatown or Courage Bagels in Virgil Village.
“LA is the best food ever. You can get so many different cuisines. That‘This is honestly my favorite part of LA.
“I came here when I was 18. I really grew up here, into adulthood and into my current way of thinking. And like, everyone always talks to me about how I reference all that LA pop culture.
She tells me that she’s not as passionate about pop culture as her writing makes it seem. In reality, she mirrors her surroundings and rolls with the punches of her fast, improvised recording style. Most tracks on Juno were mostly written in less than four hours while capturing the energy of each day in the songs. “Before the pandemic, I literally had no idea what was going on pop culture. I just didn’t pay attention. And then for some reason, during the pandemic, I was like, ‘Oh, pop culture exists? I will find out what it is. It kind of seeped into the shit. I just talk about what’s going on around me.
Now, Remi Wolf isn’t just at the forefront of the Los Angeles music scene, she’s a part of pop culture itself. Florida