New York based Callie Reiff is unlike any other 21- year-old. She’s not only an accomplished producer who you might have seen on Spotify’s playlists, Callie is also a model, performer and a DJ who made history just at the age of 15 and became the youngest deejay to perform at Webster Hall! Since then Reiff has been working at full speed, achieving massive successes making a big name for herself and showing everyone that nothing can stop her even in such a young age! She’s taken the stage at music festivals all around the globe such as Tomorrowland and have been an opening act for world-renowned acts like Ed Sheeran or Skrillex. I had a pleasure of meeting Callie over zoom and we chatted about challenging beginnings of becoming a DJ and the inspiration behind her new collaboration with Kaeyra “Heart Ain’t Safe”.
The Curve: How did you discover your passion for music?
Callie: I think it’s always been there. It’s just been a part of my life since I can remember. I’ve always loved music. Ever since I started dancing. I was a dancer at New York City Ballet and I loved all the beautiful music that was playing in the orchestra there and having to catch like each BPM each night or like get on beat with a conductor. Each night was a challenge just to know your rhythm. It kind of set the tone for me loving music and always wanting it in my life and I realised I don’t love ballet that much but I love the music and so I wanted to learn an instrument and then I got into drumming and then into DJ-ing from there and ended up being like “Oh, this is my passion for sure.”
TC: What was the most challenging thing going into the music industry at such a young age?
C: Probably that I didn’t see a lot of people my age doing it at a rate that I really wanted to see, or I didn’t see my idols as close to my age, that would have been cool. I think it was interesting coz I went into DJ-ing at like 12 years old, I went to the DJ school Dubspot in NYC. And I was definitely the youngest person there, and they were kind of confused at first looking at me like ‘She really wants to learn DJ that’s interesting’ and it was kind of weird coz like where is everyone my age? But then as I started to DJ, I realised people in the crowd were around my age or coming to shows at festivals and they loved EDM. I mean my whole age group loves electronic music, so it kind of made so much sense because they were like ‘Oh, you motivated me to learn how to DJ or I haven’t seen someone your age doing it’ and then you feel like you’re friends with all of the people in the audience too because they share the same passion which is love for music. But the most challenging was probably getting adults to believe in me at such an early age or take me seriously. And then at some point I realized I do have the skills to go up and play on the stage and then they kind of just had to take me seriously.
TC: Definitely, because I feel like people usually don’t take teenagers seriously.
Yeah, it’s like I really love what I do so I’ll prove myself and I like a challenge. Then they end up supporting you.
TC: Tell me a little more about your new single “Heart Ain’t Safe”. What was the inspiration for the song?
C: “Heart ain’t safe” is like one of my favourite releases I’ve done and the inspiration behind it, especially lyric wise is just someone always in the back of your mind that you can’t seem to get rid of. It’s kind of relatable to all of my friends and Kaeyra on the vocals did an amazing job at expressing the emotion behind it. Kind of frustration and also excitement almost because you’re in this stage with, let’s say a guy and you really like him and you don’t know yet that you really like him and it’s kind of realising that because you can’t stop thinking about that person. So you’re hanging out with your friends and going out and you really wish this guy was here. And if he was here, you know you would totally ditch everyone and hang out with him. So I think that’s the vibe of it and I tried to also give it a dark feel with the production to kind of even outwards. Like let’s say you don’t want to be thinking about them. You relate to it that way, where it’s like you were trying to get rid of the thought of them, so it’s kind of both sides of really liking them and really trying to not like them, which I think is a constant battle we all have sometimes.
TC: How was it working with Kaeyra?
C: It was awesome. She’s an amazing person in general and we just got along as friends immediately and we always wanted to do a song together for awhile. Actually we knew each other for a little bit before this song. We had the song kind of ready to go and I was like I would love her to be on this track. We just kind of heard her voice on it and I was like she could really bring the power to the song and she did. She brought like a powerful vocal and really made it a strong anthem. I feel like where if I play it live for a big crowd it would really stand out. I was so happy about it.
TC: Kaeyra is based in Los Angeles and you’re in New York, was it hard working remotely on the track?
C: It was pretty fun I think during the pandemic I learned how to work with everyone virtually. Usually, I was working with people in the studio or would fly to Los Angeles for a little bit and do some sessions or anywhere else and meet people in person to see how we would vibe before working together. But it’s kind of like you know, hop on the zoom and get a little uncomfortable with constantly meeting new people and trying to make new music and it kind of got me out of my comfort zone in a great way because I got more confident in making music with really anyone, trying out new ideas and just finding people that I really liked. And it was very cool to just work virtually, and as we were a little bit friends before it kind of helped too, because I just knew her vocals could sound awesome on this. It was just kind of a natural thing. Like she’s recording vocals and I would pop it in the session and then we had a track and it was kind of a cool way to go about it. And it’s very weird, because we’ve never hung out in person.
TC: You mentioned “Heart Ain’t Safe” is one of your favourite releases. Why would you say that one is your favourite out of 4 singles that came out this year?
C: That’s a tough one because I do love all of them pretty equally. It’s like children. It’s like you don’t want to say you have a favourite child so it’s kind of like that [laughts]. But I do definitely love “Heart Ain’t Safe”. The recent one. Like I told you because it just kind of fits this sort of vibe that I’m trying to make with my sound in general. It’s like very even between dance music, but also pop music and it’s kind of right in between there. And it can go either way where it’s like even if someone isn’t really usually listening to EDM music, they would probably listen to this. I think it’s fun to go in between both genres a little bit, and I just really love Kaeyra’s vocals. I was so happy to finally get her on a track so I really love that one and “Crash Into Me” is also a favourite of mine too because I can’t wait to play that live that has like a really awesome energy and I feel like people will just sing it, sing along to it. So I love that one too.
TC: What are your goals for the upcoming months?
C: Definitely to release more music which is in the works. I’ll release a few more singles and then I have an EP that will come out before the end of the year, which I’m excited about because it will just condense all the singles I’ve released into one project and maybe a few extra tracks. Also to play some shows, play some live shows. I just announced that I’ll be playing with Steve Aoki on July 25th in New York at the Brooklyn Mirage, which is so cool. It’s my first show back so I’m just excited to get out there. My goal is to travel, meet new people, and you know and be able to play all these new shows safely, of course.
TC: How does it feel to be back on stage after such a long break?
C: I’m so nervous but I’m so excited too. I’ve also been able to do some livestreams in my room during the pandemic and all that stuff. So it helped to still be able practise so I don’t feel like ‘Oh I haven’t played in so long’ but I am super nervous to be in front of a crowd again. But I know it will be so much fun once I get up there and actually start playing I’m just going to have a blast and I’m just so excited to finally be able to be back on stage. It will be awesome.
TC: You’ve had a lot of successes in your career. When you look back is there a particular moment that stends out for you?
C: Thank you! Probably the first time I got to play a show, it’s because I was just a 15 year old girl that learned how to DJ and I was really persistent on trying to get on stage at Webster Hall and I ended up Facebook matching the promoter and then he came to hear me play at my DJ teacher’s studio and he didn’t know my age. He was like ‘you are very young, you can’t play at our club in New York City’ and I was like give me a chance to listen to how I DJ and then he was pretty impressed I think. And then after that he worked around everything and convinced his boss to have me open for Electric Zoo after party at 15 and that was just like someone taking a chance on me. It was just an amazing experience. I’ll never forget the first time I got to do that because that was really everyone rooting for me and giving me an amazing opportunity that I’ll never forget and it kind of started everything and got everyone believing in me.
TC: In addiction to music you’re also a model. Is it challenging to manage the diffrences between these careers?
C: They go hand in hand for me because I love fashion and I’ve always used DJ-ing on stage to express myself and wear really cool clothes that represent who I am. I think that’s come into play and it’s really cool and to work with brands or reach out to a few designers to get them involved in my project and stuff, so I think that’s how it goes hand in hand. And I work with brands on campaigns and stuff that really represents me as a musician and artist rather than a model per say and do something that it’s like more me. It’s more collaborative. I think it’s more like you have a say on what you want to wear, what you want to do, and all these things that are to do with what works to represent your music. So I think that’s how itgoes hand in hand for me, and a lot of brands have been very nice. So it’s very cool.
TC: Which collaboration was your favourite?
C: Probably Tommy Hilfiger. It was very cool. Like the whole campaign was very fun and I did it with a few other artists and that was very cool to do because I just love Tommy as a brand too. I think he’s pretty cool guy and does an amazing job at introducing new creative collaborations. And I love all of his collaborations with actual people for his clothing and I think he tries to do a lot of collaborating, which kind of keeps your brand fresh and you know, it’s always exciting and brings different angles to the table.
TC: And if you had to choose between producing, DJ-ing and modeling, which career path would you pick and why?
C: Honestly, I think I could do all of it at once, but if I had to choose, it would obviously be making music. I love performing too. But I would say without the outlet of creating my own music, I would really want to continue doing that. And that’s kind of what I’ve had to do with the pandemic, so I’ve had no shows and stuff, so kind of realising how much I love producing like that’s who I am. Just making music all day, it’s fun.
TC: Who’s your inspiration when it comes to music?
C: I definitely say this a lot, but I would say l Skrillex because he’s just an overall amazinghuman and is always trying new genres and collaborating with other artists and being onprojects you would never think an EDM artist or dubstep artist that was coming from this world is on. He created a whole Justin Bieber album so I just think he’s super cool and very creative and just a master on a DJ level and production level so I just love him.
TC: What’s your dream collabration?
C: I’d love to work with Skrillex, of course, that’s a goal. I would love to work with Alison Wonderland too. I think she’s very cool, I love her vocals. I did a remix for her but it could be cool to have her vocals on one of my tracks. I love this producer Kito, she’s really cool. And Peggy Gou is awesome, I love her. I would love to work with her or just to do a show with her that could be cool and play some house or techno music. Thoseare some of the artists I would like to work with possibly.
TC: Before we wrap up this interview, what would be your advice for young artists trying yo make it into industry?
C: I would say do not put so much pressure on time and to think that you have to make it by a certain age and I’d also say if people don’t believe in you yet or you know adults in your life or in general are kind of confused with what you’re doing, it’s okay. They’ll get to it and they’ll understand it. Or if they don’t, then you know it’s okay too. But I think if you keep working on yourself and just work on what you want to do and drown out the noise of any sort of doubt or disbelief and just kind of believe in yourself. I mean it’s only practice and it’s only continuing to work hard and you’ll see results. So I think it’s just about believing in yourself and also being okay with not knowing everything and being open to asking questions to people that you look up to or wanting to collaborate with people and asking advice and not just jumping on everything and saying yes to everything.
You can followe Callie’s journey here: