Callie Reiff is a rapidly rising indie club producer and DJ.
Reiff's musical journey began with her performance in the New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker at just seven years old. A little bit later, she learned how to play the drums by watching YouTube tutorial videos, and eventually enrolled in the NYC Electronic Music Production & DJ School Dubspot. At just 21 years old, she has released music on A-Track's Fool's Gold label, OWSLA's NEST HQ Imprint, Ultra Records, and Universal Music. Her music is on Spotify's "Women of Electronic Music's Playlist for Women's History Month," and she has remixed work for Sofi Tukker and Kayzo among other artists.
Simultaneously, Reiff has continued to model with NEXT Models over the years, working with brands such as Converse, H&M, and Beats by Dr. Dre and doing editorial modeling for Milk, Vogue, Teen Vogue, and more. She is one of Teen Vogue's "10 Female Artists Who are Changing the Music Game," and has received recognition from major names, brands, and labels across the country.
The young star's debut single "Tin Machine" accrued almost one million Spotify streams, and she continued to showcase her immense skill with the releases that followed. She has performed at famous venues all across New York, including Terminal 5 and Output, and became the youngest DJ to perform at the famed Webster Hall at age 15. She has opened for the likes of Ed Sheeran, Zedd, Skrillex, Deadmau5, and many more world-famous musicians.
Reiff's most recent single, "What Ifs," is upbeat, catchy, and perfect for your summer playlist. Created in collaboration with Louella, "What Ifs" is an ode to the questions and unknowns created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The song is a dynamic masterpiece, with punchy build-ups and drops and a perfectly balanced verse section.
We spoke with Callie Reiff about her musical influences, experiences, and latest single.
Read the full interview and listen to "What Ifs" below:
Where are you from?
NYC! Born and raised!
At what age did you start playing music?
I was around 10 years old when I started playing music. I first started out playing drums. I then started DJing when I was 12 years old.
Do you have any mentor figures or role models in particular that you looked up to growing up (and currently)?
I’d have to say my Dad. He played music 24/7 throughout the house when I was growing up and has been a big musical influence for me. I would also say that in terms of drumming, I look up to Sheila E. and Ringo Starr. I feel like I say this almost every time I’m asked, but Skrillex is definitely my role model! I love the way he handles himself, how humble he is, and how he lifts up-and-coming artists. He has respected and supported me from the start. I also love the way he always experiments with his music... It’s something I truly look up to him for.
What has been your favorite project/collaboration that you’ve done?
The music I have been working on and releasing recently has to be my favorite. I’ve been developing my sound and really focusing on my production technique for the past 2 years, so I am so excited to be releasing this new music! I have a collaboration coming out soon with one of my favorite vocalists ever, Kaeyra. We are both so stoked about it and can’t wait for everyone to hear!
How would you describe your sound?
I like to describe my sound as “indie club." To me, "indie club" means the base of the song highlights songwriting, storytelling and vocals, but the song is also surrounded with the New York club energy that I bring to all of my production. I love collaborating with vocalists and making sure all of their emotions come through in each song.
"To me, 'indie club' means the base of the song highlights songwriting, storytelling and vocals, but the song is also surrounded with the New York club energy that I bring to all of my production."
Who are your musical influences?
There are so many artists that influence me! The artists who have really influenced my new music are Kito, Mura Masa, Sam Gellaitry, Disclosure, and Empress Of.
Talk about your latest release “What Ifs.” What was your inspiration?
Isabella (whose artist name is Louella) initially sent the vocal idea to me. Listening to it, I really felt like the lyrics came through so well. We spoke about how the song is based on a relationship and the ups and downs you go through as you grow with someone, but as I was producing it I realized how much it also related to how everyone has been feeling throughout the pandemic. There are so many unknowns and what ifs right now. Producing this track and working with Isabella felt super personal, even though Isabella and I haven’t even met in person yet!
What was the songwriting and recording process like?
Working with Isabella was very natural and easy. After receiving her vocal idea, I put it into my Ableton project and started arranging it how I would like it. I switched up some of the lyrics but it honestly didn’t change too much from her original idea. I loved producing this one and I can’t wait until I can actually play it for a live crowd!
What was the most challenging part of this project?
I had really wanted to work with Isabella on this song in the studio. But, as I worked on it, I realized that it actually wouldn’t be an issue to do it remotely. Over the past year I’ve become comfortable with working from my room and collaborating virtually. Isabella and I got along so well-- even just over texting-- and ended up having a great work flow. The song came together fast as I just let her lyrics guide me to where I wanted to take the song melodically. With the lyrics having a sort of dark feel to them, I wanted the production to be high energy with big drums and melodies. I want the song to feel like we’re almost at the light at the end of the tunnel.
"I want the song to feel like we’re almost at the light at the end of the tunnel."
When can we expect more new music?
I’ll be releasing a few more singles that I’ve been working on and then there will be an EP!
How do you create your visuals/album covers?
All of my artwork is inspired by the lyrics and emotions of the songs. I think of what color, drawings, or inspirations represent certain feelings for each record and then I incorporate them into the art. I love the visual process. Lately I’ve been working with the artist @iscreamcolour to create animations, illustrations and artwork for the songs. It’s been so cool to have it be such a collaborative team effort. We have a lot of ideas of how to take the visuals and expand it outside of just being single artwork too.
Talk about your experience as a woman in the music industry. What advice would you give to young girls hoping to break into the industry?
Being a woman in the music industry can mean dealing with assumptions or sexist comments, but sadly I think that is something all women deal with on a daily basis to some degree. All I want to do is make music so there are no comments or assumptions that can stop me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors and great guidance while working on my music and playing shows. The best advice I can give is to not let anyone stop you from doing what you love. Continue to work hard, work with good people, and keep those people close, and ask for advice. Also, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable.
"The best advice I can give is to not let anyone stop you from doing what you love. Continue to work hard, work with good people, and keep those people close, and ask for advice."
What are your plans post-COVID-19?
To hug every single person possible! Hopefully I’ll be able to play some in person shows soon and be able to play my EP to a live crowd. I miss the energy of a crowd, and I miss traveling and meeting new people.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
I’d like to thank everyone who’s been showing love to my new music. I couldn’t be happier to get these songs out into the world, and I hope to see everyone in person soon. Thanks for having me!