IN CONVERSATION WITH REMI WOLF
This article is featured as a part of this summer’s Oaf Press: Out of Oaffice Edition. Our bi-annual limited edition Zine which is out now and available in all orders that qualify for free delivery.
If you’re hosting a barbie this summer and don’t know what to put on the playlist, just stick on Remi Wolf’s new release, Juno Deluxe. It’s full of feel-good bops… plus Remi herself is an absolute gem. We’ve been big fans for a few years now, and Remi loves to wear Lazy Oaf whilst she’s touring and performing. So when we heard that she’d be hopping around Europe this festival szn we asked her to add our studio to her list of stops, so we could sit down and have a natter all about the new album, dancing the angst away and the importance of honesty.
Hello Remi, thanks for popping down to see us in our studio. How are you doing, are you happy to be back in London?
I am so fine, thank you. And I’m so happy to be back - I’m staying in Shoreditch which I love. It’s so lively and with so many things to do. There’s so much fashion and coffee and food and everything I need to feel ok in a city when I’m not at home. I like to stay in places where it feels like there’s a lot of people and a lot of life, because if not then it’s super hard to be on the road.
If you were writing the top line of your Wikipedia page, how would you describe yourself?
I guess I’d say, “Remi Wolf is an artist, a musician.” I really do identify as that. But it’s hard to define yourself, and I don’t really like to do that. But I’d also say I’m emotional…maybe I wouldn’t say that on my wikipedia page, but it’s true.
For people who are yet to bless their ears with your music, what genre/type/mood would you say it most matches with?
I think as of now, it sits in this sort of soul/funk/psycho pop arena. And I guess the mood is kind of catharsis, and shedding yourself by having fun, when you want to shake something off then my music is a good thing to listen to. When you want to get all the angst out.
If we made a sort of ‘origin story’ movie about your early life, who would you want to play you and what pivotal moments would we see play out?
I feel like the easy answer right now is Zendaya, but if I was really going for it I’d probably want Brad Pitt to play me. I mean he’s pretty awesome. Either him or like, Vince Vaugh. He’s pretty hot. I don’t know how they’d pull that shit off, but it would be fun.
In terms of pivotal moments in my life, there was this time in college where I was really sad and I was going through a break up. It was the beginning of my fall semester and I got really deeply into Elliott Smith. I would get really drunk all the time and fall asleep on this massive beanbag in our living room - it was something I did for like two weeks straight. Everybody in the morning would find me sleeping on this beanbag. And I think that was one of the lowest times in my life, and it was pivotal in a way because after that happened I was like, “okay, I need to get my shit together.” And then I started really focusing on my music after that, and Eliott Smith became a very important musical figure in my life.
We’ve been playing Juno Deluxe on repeat since it came out. Do you have a favourite song on there, or one you’re most proud of?
I truly like all of them, and it’s hard to pick favourites as they’re all my children. When you release an album, I imagine it’s kind of the same feeling as when you send your kid off into the world. A part of you wants to know exactly what’s happening with it at all times and the other part of you is like, please get away from me. Do your own thing. But I love the track Sally - it has a special place in my heart because I wrote it a long time ago, like four years ago at this point. It was one of the only songs from that era of my life that ended up making its way onto the album. It feels like a very naive part of myself that has now met all of these more developed versions of myself. And I think because of that it kind of feels like a baby. Plus, it’s really fun to perform live, because it has everything. The angst, the energy. It feels like a weird amalgamation of lots of influences and genres, which feels like a true reflection of me and my soul.
Your music is so feel good, but lots of those super upbeat sounding tracks have heavy subject matter behind them, talking about mental health and the world being a shitshow. Do you find the creation process healing and helpful in dealing with these tricky aspects of life?
Oh absolutely. It’s one of the only methods of healing I have, I think. Which is why a lot of my songs end up feeling so cathartic and intense. I don’t have a lot of outlets, and making music is one of my only sources of therapy, and it’s how I expel everything. That’s why there’s so much energy and tension in my music - it’s very intentional. I go into the writing sessions with intense emotions and I’m ready to get them off my chest.
That’s probably why Gen Z loves your music so much - life is heavy and complex, and with your music they can dance with those feelings. You can see why it really resonates with the oversaturated brains of this generation.
Totally. Everything is everything, all the time. I have this little monologue that I go off on in my shows, about all these emotions we’re experiencing are all existing at once. And sometimes we choose to push some down one day, another the next one. But they’re all still here, at all times. So why don’t we just acknowledge that. There’s this weird culture that developed with covid of this crazy, constantly productive, constantly positive culture? I guess people did it as a survival tactic. But I think it’s really toxic when people only identify with one thing. We need to acknowledge all the shit in order for all the blessings and amazing things in our life to exist. So it’s cool that you say that, I feel that.
You’re all over the shop this summer at festivals and gigs. Any highlights that you’re most looking forward to?
I’m opening for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Italy. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a show as that one. I grew up listening to them and covering their shows, so I’m stoked. Also, I’m Italian, so it feels really right.
So obviously Italy will be wild, but we Brits like to think we’re the best crowd. Are we right? It’s ok if you humble us.
You guys are really great. In my experience it’s been really, really fun playing here. The last show I had here was at the Moth Club, it was a really small venue but people went fucking nuts. It was really fun.
Are there any other artists that you’re looking forward to seeing perform this festival szn?
I did Primavera and saw Lorde who I’ve now seen about 30 times because I just toured with her, but it was so fun to see a festival set. I’m seeing Beck in Manchester also, and I’ve never seen him live and I’m a huge fan and we’re great friends. But also The Chilli Peppers.
Who are your biggest inspirations and influences when creating new music?
Myself. Honestly. I have tonnes of artists I really love but I feel like if I ever go into a session and I’m referencing people, it’s not a good session. I need to be going in and to be blocking out other people’s art and voices to let my own shine through. I just have to sink into myself to feel most inspired when I’m writing.
Talking about your writing, we love your lyrics, especially the more obscure ones. If you had to get a line from any of your songs tattooed on you, which one would it be?
I feel like the answer would probably be different every day. But I've been in an emo mood recently so probably “pull the weeds, suck the venom,” from my song Street You Live On. I just love those lyrics. I feel like those ones right now are nice and relevant to my life, where you feel just intoxicated with someone else’s vibe and you need to get rid of it. I’d get them right above my knees. That’s a good tattoo idea to be honest, I should do that.
You’ve been wearing our stuff for a while now. Do you have a favourite Lazy Oaf item?
Yeah, of course. I just love how you are constantly evolving and putting out new stuff. You keep it fresh and interesting. I love all the collaborations with sick artists - it’s creative, colourful and inspiring. Body friendly too. And yes, it’s a sherpa check fleece. It’s the first thing I ever bought from you guys, and I still to this day wear it all the time.
What will you be doing to chill out when you’re not travelling/gigging/doing all the other crazy things you’ll be doing in the next couple months?
I feel like I’m constantly working, I’m a bit of a workaholic at this point. So I’m probably just writing, or going to dinner with someone. I hate being at home, I’m not a home person. I just feel like I need to be productive all the time, but that’s a habit I feel like I need to break. I feel like if I had a hot tub it would fix all my problems. I don’t really watch television, but I did recently have this three week stint where I was obsessed with baseball. I like sports because it feels very communal. It’s a group that’s so strong, sports fandom really bonds people together. I really enjoy that.
What are you working on at the moment? Anything we should be keeping our eyes and ears out for this year?
Well I just dropped my Deluxe album, Juno, with four new songs. So if you haven’t already please go listen to it. But I am working on a lot of new music. It’s too early to say what it will be like, but it’s very vulnerable so far. That’s one of my goals with my next project, is to keep revealing more about myself and being more honest with myself about my experience and my feelings. It’s been crazy the last three years, and it’s something I’m still processing and sorting through mentally, so I’m trying to write that out. I want to be really honest. I don’t really watch television, but I did recently have this three week stint where I was obsessed with baseball. I like sports because it feels very communal. It’s a group that’s so strong, sports fandom really bonds people together. I really enjoy that.
Is it scary to be so vulnerable in such a public space?
Oh, totally. I have a lot of armour on when I release music. I don’t look at my phone and I have to just not care, because it’s hard. The internet is deep and dark and crazy. One person can say one thing and it can get you down for like two days. But I can’t be too scared of it. It’s part of the deal, and a part of making art in our world.
Well kudos to you, that’s commendable. Finally, any words of wisdom for the people?
Just tell the truth, and be honest. It’s better than keeping shit hidden and pushed down. Even though it’s painful as shit, at least you can process it. That’s something I’ve been really trying to do recently. You get through the demons quicker if you’re honest about them. Also just, try to be yourself. If something doesn’t make you feel good, then you don’t need to be there. There’s plenty of other places to be, so just dip. Follow your gut and your heart.