Callie Reiff on Latest Single and "Indie Club" Sound
In the midst of a global pandemic, DJ and music producer Callie Reiff is bringing the club straight to your living room. Based in New York City, the 21-year-old artist has created her own genre of “indie-club” electronica rooted in the heartbeat of urban life. Her latest single, “What Ifs (feat. Louella)” discusses the unknown terrain of relationships in the midst of quarantine; however, the track is anything but downbeat--its irresistible bass-driven groove, paired with Louella’s soulful vocal, will find its way to the top of your summer party playlist. Beyond her work as a producer, Reiff is also the youngest DJ to perform at Webster Hall in NYC, and later, opening shows for Ed Sheeran and Skrillex. She has performed at countless major festivals, including Tomorrowland and EDC Las Vegas, and has been featured by Diplo, The Cut, and countless other major media platforms.
Needless to say, this is only the beginning for Callie Reiff. Keep an eye out--she’ll be headlining more major venues before we know it, and in the meantime, she’ll be headlining our headphones on repeat.
Callie Reiff’s latest single, “What Ifs (feat. Louella),” is available now on all streaming platforms. Find her on social media @CallieReiff.
1. How did you first get started making music? What first got you interested in music production?
I started off as a drummer around the age of 10. But, once I heard about DJing, I immediately wanted to try it out. I looked up DJ schools in NY and found one called Dubspot. After my first lesson, I was hooked. I knew that DJing is what I wanted to be doing. I practiced mixing every day for about three years until eventually I started performing. As I was performing and opening for artists, I thought about how cool it would be to play my own show with my own music! From there, I downloaded Ableton and began to teach myself how to produce. It took me a while but I would say the past two years I have really gotten pretty confident in my sound and am excited about the songs I’m releasing!
2. What does your writing process look like, from idea to final production?
It really depends on the song I’m working on. Usually I started off with a melody idea by playing on my midi keyboard and looping it over a few times to hear different variations. I pick the melody idea I like the best and then add in a solid bassline and sub, and then I’ll add in the rest, like drums or vocals. When I am working with a vocalist, sometimes I’ll take their vocal idea and add a melody over it and the rest of the song follows. Or sometimes I give vocalists an idea I’m working on for them to sing over.
3. You’ve played some pretty large festivals pre-pandemic; how has COVID changed your creative and/or performance process? Do you find yourself approaching production differently during a pandemic?
When the pandemic first started it was definitely a huge shift in my everyday life. I thrive off of the energy of a crowd and performing live and it was hard to process that we never knew when live music would really come back. Thankfully I have my DJ equipment set up in my room, so over the past year I’ve gotten to do some livestreams on Twitch and Instagram and takeovers on different channels. I recently did a B2B with Tucker from Sofi Tukker while he was in town and that was fun! The plus side to being stuck in my room all day is that I have had all of this time to develop my sound and focus on my producing. It’s a huge relief to see that shows are starting to come back, slowly but surely. It’s so exciting! Hopefully I’ll have some of my own to announce soon!
4. Who are your musical influences? Electronic music is a pretty new field—do you find yourself drawing from other genres or contemporaries, or is your sound entirely self-influenced?
I feel like every time I’ve played a show or gone to a concert, DJ show etc., the sounds I hear or like in those certain atmospheres inspire my sound. New York City, as a whole, has always inspired me too. Naturally, the more ideas you try, the more you understand your approach to music. The artists who influence my sound most are Skrillex, Sam Gellaitry, Alison Wonderland, and Kito.
5. You have an incredibly unique sound, which you’ve described as “indie club.” How did you settle on this sound? What drove you to develop your own style entirely?
I feel like my sound—and anyone else’s sound—develops through trial and error plus training your ear to pick up on what you want to do. It’s like suddenly you’re on a roll with producing and then you listen back and pick up on similarities you didn’t even realize happening at the time—or at least that’s what happened for me. My sound is evolving every day and I never want to only be focusing on one genre. I’ve started working with a lot more vocalists and love working on my songwriting and collaboration, which have started off pretty indie sounding. I love to keep that initial singer/songwriter approach while surrounding it with New York club energy production, hence ‘indie club’!
6. As far as I’ve seen, there aren’t that many young female DJs or producers in the public eye. Does that change how you work, create, perform? Do you feel pressure to succeed as an innovator in your field?
Honestly, there are tons of women in EDM that have been here way before me and have been killing it! Sadly, it’s taken a while for festivals and the music industry in general to show the proper respect to these artists and we are still dealing with that every day. It’s something I’m always thinking about and so I focus on working with good people, lifting others up, being there to support emerging artists, and continuing to do my thing. I love what I do so I’ll never stop working hard to get what I want accomplished.
7. How did “What Ifs (feat. Louella)” come about, and how did you establish that sound? What was the production process like working with Louella?
Thank you so much! I love this song a lot. Isabella (aka Louella) sent me over a vocal idea for a track and I instantly knew I would want to work on it with her. I related so much to the lyrics. We spoke about how it’s the what ifs and ups and downs you go through in a relationship but also how with the global pandemic, it felt like everyone could relate to the lyrical sentiment. Once I had her vocals, the melodies came to me by hearing the emotion through her voice. I came up with the main melodies by trying to give the song a sense of hope in the drops and then built the rest of the song around it with some epic drums and energy. I love working with Isabella (Louella) and we may or may not have another song ready to go soon… shhh!
8. What advice would you give a younger producer/creator? What words do you live by?
Just because others don’t see yourself succeeding yet, doesn’t mean you aren’t doing what you are meant to be doing. Do what you love, never stop learning, and enjoy the journey. And practice, practice, practice!
9. What can we expect to see next from you?
More songs, an EP, and hopefully some in person shows!