California Sounds: All hail Remi Wolf’s exuberant, neon-colored disco soul

Remi Wolf
(Remi Wolf)

The Los Angeles singer, songwriter, guitarist and stellar dancer Remi Wolf earned attention earlier in the year for her beguiling left-field dance pop track, and colorful cut-and-paste video for “Woo!” Memorable stylistically and in execution, the work echoed the joy of the song’s title.

Raised in San Jose, Wolf relocated to Los Angeles seven years ago and has been showcasing an increasingly confident sound that draws on so-called wavy soul, 1980s freestyle funk and Prince-influenced R&B. After appearing at the taste-making festival Viva Pomona! and the L.A. Times Festival of Books in 2019, she signed to Universal Music subsidiary Island and has been teasing her debut EP ever since. In the wake of that first single, she dropped two other clips that were just as woo-worthy.

Remi Wolf - Photo ID

The inherent exuberance of “Photo ID” is reflected in Wolf’s stated desire to reflect “letting go, escaping reality a bit and getting your booty wiggling!” She wrote the track, she noted in comments accompanying its release, “during a week that all I was listening to was Hall & Oates and Talking Heads.”

Adding that she was drawn to “Daryl Hall’s big melodies and the funky strangeness of David Byrne,” the lyrics were driven by a week in which she had lost her keys, “gone to the DMV to get a new driver’s license and was in a strange mental state about some of my personal relationships.” She called the outcome “a culmination of those chaotic thoughts. Full vibe.”


On Wednesday, Wolf released a Little Dragon remix for “Disco Man,” a song she said was inspired by nights spent at DJ Jeremy Sole’s beloved “Funky Sole” dance parties. “One time these guys were dressed as ‘70s porny cowboys and I created this story in my head about their lifestyle,” she explained in release notes. The video was informed by the clip for Prince’s “Raspberry Beret.”

Wolf’s videos are all neon and rave-inspired, part of the rollout to Wolf’s debut for Island. Called “I’m Allergic to Dogs!,” the five-track EP doesn’t have a bum note. That Wolf is happy to filter her voice with effects, including sped-up mousiness, doesn’t mean she’s trying to mask a weak voice. In clips of her playing live in 2019, her tone exudes confidence as she hits, and sustains, emotive tones.

Those with cars can check out Wolf in performance — in person! — in what’s billed as “the first drive-in concert of 2020 in Los Angeles.” Occurring Thursday at an as yet unannounced location in Chinatown, the event will celebrate Wolf’s new record and serve as a fundraiser, with all proceeds going to charities including the Plus1 for Black Lives Fund and Summaeverythang, which a distributes free organic produce to Watts and South Los Angeles.