How Remi Wolf Is Set To Be A Freaky, Funky, Poppin’, Jazzy, Technicolor, Post-Pandemic Superstar

Remi Wolf
Photo by Alma Rosaz
– Remi Wolf
cover of March 14, 2022, issue of Pollstar
Traditional live industry wisdom holds that artist development moves in steps never skipped. Touring careers grow incrementally starting in small clubs and moving up the ladder to larger ones, landing opening slots on bigger tours and incorporating festival plays with increasingly better time slots and stages. There’s international runs, jumps to theaters and amphitheaters and, if all goes well, a step up to arenas and then, just maybe, if you can build a massive fanbase, you could be one of the very few to play stadiums. It’s a long, perilous journey with a prevailing ethos that if you skip steps – that is, get ahead of yourself and your draw – you’ll play to less-than-full rooms, lose revenue and possibly fans and potentially damage your career.

“For a lot of artists, things can explode so quickly these days that you can skip steps or even rearrange steps,” says Avery McTaggart, co-founder of TBA Agency, who along with Josh Mulder represents Remi Wolf. “Reading the market, reading the artist and having a deep understanding of them both instead of just broadly applying generalized agent logic is important. We want to have the deepest understanding possible and proceed on that basis, instead of just ‘this is how it’s done,’ because how it’s done is out the window.” 

The poster child for throwing staircases out the window is Wolf. Her copious music talents, tireless work ethic and off-the-chart social media presence saw her technicolored star explode over the course of the pandemic. In little more than two years, with an assist from her production collaborator Jared “Solomonophonic” Solomon, the indefatigable 26-year-old released two EPs (2019’s You’re a Dog! and 2020’s I’m Allergic To Dogs!), a summer 2021 remix album (We Love Dogs! with the likes of Nile Rodgers, Beck, Hot Chip, Panda Bear and Tune-Yards) and then Juno, her exquisite full-length named for her French Bulldog, which dropped last October on Island Records. This, while making 11 (!) gloriously multi-hued videos over the last eight months with her partner in creative crime Haley Appell.

Outside Lands Underplay:
AP Photo / Chris Tuite / imageSPACE / MediaPunch / IPX
– Outside Lands Underplay
Though not a headliner, Remi Wolf packed her Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival set with an estimated 20,000 fans on Oct. 29, 2021, in San Francisco.
Wolf’s mellifluous muse swings in a multitude of directions embracing pop, funk, R&B, hip-hop and jazz and she can just belt it out (of late she’s performing Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” in concert) if she wants. Her next-level calling card, though, is her effortless, uninhibited and uproarious lyrical flow. On “Shawty,” Wolf finds herself “Standing on the porcelain” and “eating at a Bennigan’s”; on “Sexy Villain,” she meets “Billy Bob and Angelina / Get my milk from Altadena / I can move to Pasadena”;  and she shows her love on “Doctor,” noting, “I’d literally pee outside for you on Hollywood Boulevard.” She’s often referencing music heroes, including Erykah Badu, Billie Holiday and the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a song appropriately titled “Anthony Kiedis.” It all reflects her wide-ranging knowledge base, ribald humor, authentic voice and, though less visible, ferocious drive. 
“The pandemic was brutal,” says Wolf amid yet another overscheduled day that includes meetings, tour preparations, studios and an interview. “I’m just trying to have as much fun as I possibly can. Even when I’m tired, I think that I just have this thing inside of me that needs to give 100% every single show, even if my legs are fucking burning, and I’ve lost my voice, I just don’t want to disappoint myself and I don’t want to disappoint my fans, so I’ll always go as hard as I possibly can.” 
That work ethic has taken, and will in 2022 take, Wolf to stratospheric heights. While before the pandemic she was opening shows at clubs for artists including Still Woozy, Cautious Clay and Charlie Berg, this past January she headlined New York City’s Webster Hall and in Los Angeles played a double Fonda. In the fall, between the waves caused by the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants, she had non-main stage festival slots at Outside Lands, Life Is Beautiful, Firefly and Austin City Limits that looked like underplays as thousands upon thousands turned out for her performances. In the same time period, she played a landmark show at Hollywood’s Roxy that featured an appearance by friend and collaborator (turned “Euphoria” star) Dominic Fike. 
“She’s obviously had a huge year or so during the pandemic,” says Sophie Lev, who was formerly Wolf’s project manager at Island Records and recently became her full-time manager. “She put out the remix projects, had a ton of huge things like the Apple campaign [Polo & Pan’s remix of Wolf’s “Hello Hello Hello” was featured in an iPhone 12 campaign], had a huge moment on TikTok with ‘Photo ID’ and started developing a true fan base over the course of the pandemic. Coming back is so exciting because the live show is the best part and being able to properly go out on the road and acquire fans the way people traditionally acquire fans and not over the internet in real life is really exciting.”

Wolf is on the cusp of her biggest year yet. She plays Lollapaloozas Brazil and Argentina at the end of March and in early April kicks off her most significant tour yet: opening for the Grammy-winning royal that is Lorde on her 22-date “Solar Power Tour,” which debuts at The Opry on April 3 and includes two nights at New York’s Radio City and L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium. And that’s just for starters. 
On March 1, in her own inimitable Twitter style, Wolf exuberantly announced her upcoming European tour: Her European jaunt includes club plays in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. And, just as this story was going to press, Team Remi was in the process of preparing to announce a fall headlining tour, which has now been revealed on her  Instagram page as the “Gwingle Gwongle Tour” running Sept. 12 to Oct. 16. The trek will take the 26-year-old phenom to the largest rooms of her blossoming headlining career with shows at The Shrine, New York’s Terminal 5 and San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre.  

“This year we are not putting as much attention on festivals as we are in terms of growing her headline numbers,” says TBA’s McTaggart, “and then attending to these other markets that for various reasons we haven’t been able to get to yet.”
When asked how she’ll approach these high-profile plays, like Lorde’s April 3 tour opener at Nashville’s hallowed Opry, Wolf is undaunted.
“The same way I approach every show: have fun, sing my ass off, engage with the audience, win them over,” she says. “Especially for an opening slot, that’s the goal to have fun, meet new people and try to make new fans. That’s my goal. I’m not going to change anything. I’m just going to do the same old shit.” 
Wolf’s fearlessness is in part derived from a rather unexpected death-defying non-musical pursuit that’s helped steel her courage.
Remi Wolf

I’m Begggin You Please: Wolf, who says live she always will “go as hard as (she) possibly can,” performs at Oakland’s New Parish on Sept. 27, 2021 in Oakland. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

“Anything compared to racing and skiing is easy shit to be honest,” Wolf says, recounting her days as a competitive junior downhill skier in which she twice represented the U.S. at the Youth Olympic Games. “The pressure of that and just the impending doom that you could break a leg if you fall, or literally die when you’re going 70 miles per hour and lose your ski and something goes wrong – there is nothing, I don’t think anything in my life, that compares to that level of fear. Getting on a stage is much easier.”

Perhaps blame Jason Mraz. Wolf traces her ease with performing back to Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s monster 2008 hit “Lucky.”
“The first time I ever did a performance on stage was at this talent show at this farm with my friend,” Wolf says recalling her star turn as Mraz. “We did a duet [on ‘Lucky’]. We were in fourth grade, so I’m sure it was very cute and it ended up going really well. Everybody clapped and was like ‘Wow, you guys are such great singers, blah, blah, blah…’ but that started something in me.”
In her tweens, the native of Palo Alto, Calif., formed a vocal trio with two friends called Citrus.
“We would play like these pre-school carnivals and dress up in these hideous poofy, weird matching dresses and put feathers in our hair and perform for these kids,” she recalls, laughing. “We would do songs like ‘Lollipop,’ ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ and [Bette Midler’s] ‘Mambo Italiano.’
Wolf’s other groups included Tronald Drump, which she formed during the 2016 election while attending USC’s Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. There she learned more about performing (and even read Don Passman’s classic “All You Need to Know About the Music Business”) while getting her greatest education at the group house she shared with 11 others on Portland and 23rd Streets.
“I was just constantly around performance and music and art and simultaneously performing at house parties myself and in a performance class at school every week,” Wolf recalls. “I literally performed every week under very high pressure because the teachers at USC are really intense and will completely come after you for shit. That was terrifying and was an every-week ordeal for four years.”
Remi Wolf

Up In The Drive In: Remi Wolf performing at her wildly acclaimed drive-in benefit concert presented by This Is Who We Are Now on June 25, 2020 in Los Angeles with proceeds donated to Summaheverythang and the Plus 1 for Black Lives fund. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Among her many landmark shows, both her manager and agents cite her June 2020 Los Angeles drive-in show. “We did it in a parking lot in Chinatown,” TBA’s Mulder says. “It was about 150 cars, and it sold out within an hour. It was a real moment of optimism in a really dark time, and came very directly from her. The show that she put on that night, I didn’t stop hearing about for months and months. People still bring it up to me, it was just a wonder I’ll never forget.” 

For Wolf, the drive-in show was important on a number of different levels.
“It was really fucking wild,” she says. “I think it was pretty dissociative the whole time because it was mid-pandemic and I’m performing to a bunch of cars that in a way gave me a lot more freedom. I ignored the fact that there were people there and treated it almost as if I was just jamming with my band in a rehearsal room, which made it really fun. It was also just an insane time.” 
The show also marked the beginning of Wolf’s sobriety, something she openly acknowledges and sings about on “Liquor Store,” released in July 2021.
“It was a turning point for me in my personal life,” she says. “It was also one of the first times I met my whole team. I had just signed to the label and the whole team from Island came and my PR team from Biz 3 was there. It was just a very overwhelming time. There was a lot that felt very out of control. I think partly due to the nature of COVID and nobody knowing what they were really doing putting that show together. I think in L.A. we were the first one, so there was a lot of unknowns. It ended up being a pretty good show, but honestly, the whole time was kind of a blur.” 
With the torrid pace of her touring year ahead, where she’s set to establish herself as a bona fide headliner, her TBA agents both say Wolf’s health is their number one priority.
“We consider it a lot and we talk it through with her and Sophie,” McTaggart says. “There have been a lot of conversations since she hasn’t done this much extensive touring before, so we’re talking through what this is going to feel like, what flying internationally and then getting up and performing will be like. It’s not about just getting there or getting around in a bus, but talking the whole year through as we’re putting it together. Saying like, ‘Look, you could do this here, but let’s leave this open so you can relax.’ We have gone out of our way in formulating a plan to make sure we are protecting space for her to not run out of gas or exhaust herself.”

It Really Is Beautiful:
Alive Coverage / Sipa USA / AP Images
– It Really Is Beautiful:
Remi Wolf performing at the Life is Beautiful Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sept. 17, 2021. She said it was her first major festival play and called the set “majestic.”
For her part, Wolf loves the team she’s assembled. Of her manager, who she’s been with only a few months, she says: “I fucking love Sophie, she’s my family. I trust her with my gut and heart and soul. We’re both women and we’re practically the same age, and it’s been such a game changer for me having her work on my team. We are so tight and we talk every day all day and are transparent with each other. I can tell her anything and every single decision we make, we make together. We’re just so locked in.”
She has similar praise for TBA’s McTaggart and Mulder.
“They’re my favorite people in the fucking world,” she says. “I really love them. They’re such a dynamic duo and brilliant and they really, really respect me and my opinion. We really work as a team, they love my show and respect I go so fucking hard. And they know that I need time between shows to kind of rest and chill and go to a restaurant and eat good food. They really understand my lifestyle and we have very similar interests. They’re amazing. I fucking love them. And Josh and I have gotten two tattoos together now…”
What? How many acts and agents have ever inked up together?
“The whole time I was like, ‘What am I doing?’” Mulder says. “And then I just succumbed to it and then it was really hilarious and a good time, and I don’t regret it.”  
Though Mulder won’t say what he got, Wolf reveals all.
“I got a little pig the first time and he got a smiley face I drew for him,” she says. “The second time was after the Webster Hall show on this past tour. One of my friends had a friend who did tattoos and it was her first time ever using a tattoo gun, so it was a pretty dumb idea. We went to my hotel after the show, and I got a tattoo that says ‘Prada loafers’ and he got a tattoo that says ‘NYC.’”
“She has the ability,” McTaggart says, “to have you having such a good time that you feel like you could get a tattoo.” Which just might be the best description ever of the joy Wolf’s performances bring.