From bubblegum pop to pop punk, Cali Rodi is an artist who has undergone some changes. It seems like almost a lifetime ago that the singer was discovered by country music superstar Keith Urban and began creating her own brand of pop music. Now, with the recent release of “SIKE,” she’s moving on from her past as she channels her alternative influences. As Cali enters a new phase in her career, we chatted about touring, covers, and going viral on TikTok.
When we first talked to you, it was 2018 and you had just released “Cake.” What’s changed for you since then?
So much has changed since 2018. I feel like I’ve truly discovered my “sound” as an artist- especially this past year in lockdown. Since live shows weren’t happening, I spent a lot of time creating content on Tik Tok and began to make videos that showcase my pop-punk roots. Those videos started getting a lot of attention and it made me realize that’s the kind of music I want to release as an artist!
At the time of our first conversation, you described your sound as “Pop til I drop” – do you think this description is still true?
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by bands like Paramore, blink-182, and No Doubt, so it’s only fitting that my music now is headed in that direction. For the longest time I was begging producers to put guitars on my records, but they wouldn’t, and I let them talk me into being the bubblegum pop girl. I have no regrets- I love the music I made during those years, but I feel the guitar-driven pop-punk leaning songs I’m writing now are the most authentic to me.
Something you mentioned during that first conversation was your desire to tour, specifically internationally. Obviously, with the pandemic, that hasn’t been possible in the past year or so. But if you could put on a show anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
I want to play literally EVERYWHERE. In 2020 the only live shows I got to play were in front of my bathroom mirror! I’d love to play some of the Emo Nite shows in LA and other cities to celebrate the genre being “cool” again.
What’s been the most memorable moment for you in your music career?
There’s been a lot- most recently some highlights have been Machine Gun Kelly tweeting out my version of his song “My Ex’s Best Friend” and my pop-punk cover of “Drivers License” going viral on Tik Tok. At the beginning of 2020, legendary vocal producer Emily Wright (Katy Perry, Linkin Park, Miley Cyrus) signed me to an artist development deal which was so surreal.
One song I’ve always particularly loved of yours was “God Save the Queen.” It’s both empowering and infectious. On the other hand, a song like “Party Favor” is more bubbly. How do you find the balance between “serious,” so to speak, and “fun” in your music?
Thank you so much! Both of those songs have an overarching theme of female empowerment, which is a topic I like to cover in my music. It’s important for me to put songs out into the world that mean something, but on the flipside, I think music should be an escape, so I try and counter the powerful messages with happy uplifting sounding music!
You’ve been posting covers lately on Instagram, with a recent one being All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell.” What’s one song you’ve been dying to make your own?
I’ve been having such a blast diving into covers recently! I’m definitely wanting to do a version of “Feeling This” by blink-182…it’s my favorite song by them and has such frantic high energy. I love when a girl covers a song originally sung by a dude.
You’re releasing a new single, “SIKE”. Can you tell us more about it? What inspired it?
SIKE is a 90’s inspired anti-heartbreak anthem for anyone moving on from a bad breakup. Growing up, saying “SIKE!” was the ultimate sarcastic dig, and I thought it would be fun to incorporate that into the end of a relationship. It’s a tongue-in-cheek way of saying you’re completely over someone. I wrote the song with my friends Melissa Fuller and Scott Effman on April Fools Day over zoom this year, and it honestly started out as a joke. Sonically, it has a real “coming-of-age movie” feel, so we made a music video that visually nods to my favorite film, ‘Reality Bites’- featuring 711 Big Gulps, pizza on the roof, and handheld camcorder footage.
How would you compare it to your earlier work?
SIKE has more of an alternative edge! There’s also live drums that make it feel huge, so it’s the perfect segway into where I’m going sonically.
If you could go back in time to when you first started out in music, what advice would you have for your younger self?
Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be. And if they do, don’t listen.
What’s next for you? What can we expect from you in the latter half of 2021 and beyond?
More music! Right now I’m in the process of recording an EP! All my favorite songs that have been sitting in my hard drive will finally see the light of day.