Woman in bright clothing makes an L with her fingers on forehead

Remi Wolf and Lukas Gage Talk Finding Your Authentic Self

Lukas Gage: Remember when I ran into you in New York, on the street, shaking. I was nervous.

Remi Wolf: No, you weren’t! You were nervous?

LG: I was a milkshake. I'm trying to learn from you. 

RW: Oh, I like that.

LG: Put it in a song. Give me a shout out.

RW: Shaking like milk, Lukas Gage. I didn’t know that. You’re from San Diego.

LG: Which is where you wrote "Liz." I did my research.

RW: I wrote "Liz" in San Diego. I wrote "Sally" in San Diego. I wrote "Buttermilk" in San Diego. I wrote a lot of songs in San Diego.

LG: Why do you go to San Diego so much?

RW: My brother lives down there right now. And I kind of love it. It’s like LA, but it’s way more peaceful for me. There’s no entertainment industry going on at all. My mind can actually be clear. Sometimes in LA I feel like I’m choking on everything. You know?

LG: LA feels like Vegas to me. I have to get out and cleanse my body and drive down to San Diego and jump in the ocean and see my dogs and then I can come back and be a nightmare.

RW: I can only be in LA for three weeks, max. Luckily, I‘m touring, which is also a whole other fucking beast. Touring makes me miss LA.

LG: The missing is what makes LA good. But that's not how I wanted to start this. What's It like being my modern Shakespeare? I was listening to your album, and there's some things that you would think are just funny silly lines, and then the more you listen to them, the more you dissect them, they become really fucking deep and layered and intense. Like "Front Tooth," for example, is really hitting hard lately. 

RW: In terms of writing shit? It’s all improv. I’ll get these like super creative modes where I’ll just be singing out loud and a line will come up and I’ll be like, ‘That resonated with my soul.’ It’s hard to describe it. In a way the music kind of pours out of me and I really try not to think about it too hard. But my songs do mean so much to me. The songwriting is very therapeutic. Most of the songs on Juno manifested within an hour. I don’t go back and change lyrics. If I don’t like a song I tend to not go back to it; I abandon things. I want to stop doing that though.

LG: Do you have a folder with all the songs you haven't released? 

RW: They are definitely somewhere in my phone. I’m brutally unorganized.

Woman in colorful clothing holds L to her forehead
Remi Wolf wears an Issey Miyake dress with Gucci top and shoes. Jewelry by Mondo Mondo. Hair by Matia Emsellem. Makeup by Archangela Chelsea.

LG: This is a double question: do you feel like there's a song that people have maybe slept on? Or is there one in contrast that you're surprised popped off?

RW: Yeah, dude. "Photo ID" was my least favorite song on that EP. I was like, ‘Everybody’s gonna fucking hate this song. I shouldn’t be putting this out.’ And little did I know: billions of TikTok streams. It was kind of the beginning of TikTok 2.0; like the Wild West. I feel like now TikTok has a little bit more structure to it. But at the time, I was just like, ‘What the fuck?’ In terms of songs people don’t know, I’m pretty lucky because the people who are my fans know every song.

LG: I know every song.

RW: That makes me so happy because I don’t want to be an artist that puts out one single and then you’re fucking dead. I want to give people a full meal. I want people to eat up the whole thing.

LG: I'm imagining a charcuterie board with every little flavor. There's some Jazz going and some Blues thrown in and there's some like Anderson Paak here and then some like Doja Cat, but it's all you. Do you want me to tell you what songs I think people are sleeping on?

RW: Yes.

LG: Alright, "Buttermilk," "Volkiano," "Sally" are pretty popping. People that aren't ultra fans need to not sleep on those songs.

RW: That is so interesting. "Buttermilk" was one of those songs that I wrote in my house.

LG: I feel like it's one of those songs that you have to listen to with headphones or you can't hear the different layers. 

RW: I also fucking love "Volkiano" too. It's one of my favorites, And yeah, it is simply "volcano" but I said it weird.

LG: I remember when your album came on. I looked in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and typed "Volkiano." I was Like, 'It must be a word.' But it's simply a Remi-ism.

RW: We wanted to make a video for either "Sally" or "Volkiano."

LG: It needs to be "Volkiano" or "Sally." I'm obsessed with your aesthetic side we see through music videos. It's Spy Kids on acid, always. I feel like I could really collab well with you on it. I have a feeling of where you might get some of your influences from, but what are you inspired by? 

RW: I got deep into Spy Kids, like three years ago and it overtook me. I love the weird little stupid gadgets like the gum that you would chew and then electrocute baddies? That shit is so sick to me. I obviously fucking love color and psychedelic-looking shit. I was super inspired by kid shows like The Big Comfy Couch and Peewee’s Playhouse.

We were filming in quarantine on no budget, which forced us to create shit that doesn’t look like anything else. We also ran the whole thing through VHS.

LG: That fuzziness gives it a filter that I miss.

RW: It’s full of nostalgia. And it’s real, we literally printed the footage onto a VHS tape.

LG: What are you working on now?

RW: I’m putting out a deluxe album. There are gonna be four new songs and then some acoustic shit and some other stuff going on.

LG: Do you feel that as you're blowing up, people are trying to dilute your creative control?  

RW: I don’t think people are purposefully doing that. I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my team in the past three months, very good changes. I’m in this phase right now in my life where I’m trying to be really purposeful about curating the people around me, which I’ve never really done before on such an intentional level. I’m really trying to make it so that every single person in my life is someone I love and brings great shit out of me and I bring good shit out of them.

LG: It's maybe part of growing up. I only want to work with people that I fought with and I'm friends with. And that's when the best comes out and I feel the most authentic to myself.  

RW: The industries that we’re in try to tell you there’s this big producer you got to work with, there’s this big director and there’s this person, they did this and this, and you get distracted by the names. I’ve realized that it truly means nothing. Somebody could have made one of my favorite things ever and then I go to work with them and there’s no chemistry.

LG: It's almost like: never meet your heroes. Regardless of credits, I would be better off doing stuff with just the homies.

RW: I’m one of those people that are acquaintances with everybody. And I can get along with anyone. But I have five people that are my core group that I keep really close. I feel like you’re kind of the same way.

LG: Have you ever slept with anyone to your music?

RW: Fuck no. I never listen to my music. If somebody puts it on, I’m like, "Turn it off. Turn it off." Sometimes I’ll be on set and whoever the photographer is, or the producer will be using a playlist, and then my song will come up. I’ll literally stop the shoot.

LG: As an actor, I can't stand the sound of my voice or what I'm doing with my face. But what is it about the music that you're like, 'Please get the fuck away from me?'

RW: I don’t know. It’s just embarrassing acknowledging that people are perceiving my music outside of me. It makes it too real.

Woman lays in pool with fish
Wolf wears her own dress.

LG: I definitely don't want to watch anything that I'm in.

RW: I’m very similar. When I was writing Juno, I was barely listening to anything. I hated music at the time. And I think that’s kind of why I poured so much into Juno because all of the music industry was pissing me off. Now, I’m a little bit more at ease. I like music again.

LG: What helped you get there?

RW: For Juno, I was listening to a lot of Beck and Santana and Michelle Branch and the Japanese Breakfast album that dropped last year. Now, I’m listening to a lot of Mac DeMarco, The Flaming Lips and Third Eye Blind.

LG: They fucking hold up so much, years and years later. I actually saw them live three years ago at a casino. And it was like me and a bunch of moms hammered.

RW: Why are you always with moms? 

LG: They just fuck with me. They get in a way. Maybe because I'm very close with my mom. Are you close with your mom?

RW: I feel like I's closer with my siblings than I am with my parents. It kind of goes in and out.

LG: I have a lot of anger that I have to get out, and sometimes it comes out in my acting and my writing and I feel that with you too. When you belt, your anger and your rage comes out sometimes in the music. Because you are otherwise so calm.

RW: Correct. I have a lot of anger that I need to release. And it’s nice when I’m on tour because I’m able to literally do it every night. It’s so cleansing, right now I feel pretty chill. I feel like my singing is me screaming at the world.

LG: There's something very primal about your singing that I can feel in my bones. There's something about being at your show that makes me feel like I'm at a house party, even though you're playing for thousands of people.

RW: I love you at my shows. You’re always jumping.

LG : It's so psychotic. Because everyone in the audience wants to knock me out. But I'm like, can she see me?

RW: I see you and I fucking love it. I want everybody to be doing it that hard because I’m going fucking hard. I love that you’re giving it back to me. Right now I’m performing for Lorde’s audience because I’m opening for her. And it’s such an experience. I’m learning how to control my body and make subtler movements that still make an impact. It’s very interesting. Maybe I want to be an actor.