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10 Questions with Pop Singer/Songwriter Cali Rodi

Pop singer and songwriter Cali Rodi currently exists right on the fringe of pop music, but she’s poised for a breakout any day now. Rodi took the time to answer some questions for HerCampus UBC about her background, her music, and what’s coming up next for her.

HerCampus UBC: Where were you born, and where are you from?

Cali Rodi: I was born in Chicago, but grew up in Cave Creek, Arizona. Growing up in the desert was definitely different, but it’s what I knew, and I think it played a huge role in how my career unfolded. There were surprisingly a lot of opportunities for musicians in my town. I had my first paying gig at The Buffalo Chip Saloon when I was twelve and continued playing in bars (bar hopping in middle school whoop whoop) until I eventually moved to Nashville for college!

How did you start getting interested in music and songwriting?

I was always (and still am) one of those kids that’s in their own world, so I’d always be making up songs. My mom is an English teacher and I definitely inherited her love of words. I asked for a guitar when I was nine, played my first open mic when I was twelve and haven’t been able to stop being on stage since. When I went to a performing arts studio for voice lessons, I decided to take guitar lessons there as well, and that’s when the songwriting love bug bit me hard. All I wanted to do was write. My teacher, Billy Cioffi, noticed and rather than teach me theory and scales, he taught me chords and we started co-writing songs together. I’m so thankful for all those years because it taught me how to collaborate and figure out what I want to say as an artist.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

Musically, my biggest inspirations are Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. I feel like I’m heavily influenced by Katy’s humor and big shiny pop bops and also Taylor’s storytelling and vulnerability…those are things I try to emulate in my own career.

I’ve followed your career for a little bit and I remember when you were making more country-oriented music in Nashville. How did you get involved in the country music scene? Was there a turning point when you realized you should be making pop music?

Yes! I grew up loving country music, and I still do, I just realized that my true love is pure bubblegum pop. I love the challenge of making something catchy but still clever. Keith Urban signed me to a publishing deal, and I’m so grateful for him and my Nashville community, but I knew I eventually had to take the leap. I was talking with him at one of his shows and I was expressing my frustration of not knowing if I was making the right decision. The next day he sent me an email and all it said was, “You go your way, I’ll go your way too” — Leonard Cohen. I will always remember that.

When did you move to Los Angeles and what was the move like for you?

I moved to LA 8 months ago. Honestly, it was a pretty spontaneous move. I had been going back and forth from Nashville for almost 3 years and just felt it was time. The music scene here is so strong and I found it really stimulating to work with new people with fresh ideas. The energy is something I couldn’t ignore any longer. I had a new LA friend happen to have her roommate moving out the same month my lease in Nashville was up. I sold everything (except an Urban Outfitters pink rug that I will have in my home forever whether my future husband likes it or not). Plus,  I mean my name is “Cali” so I guess I should live up to my name!

What are some of the major differences in the songwriting community between Nashville and LA?

LA is all about melody and Nashville is all about lyric/concept!

Out of all the songs you’ve written, which song are you the most proud of?

That’s such a hard question! All of my song babies are so special and I hope as many of them get to see the light of day as possible. “Lightweight” is a standout song though because I wrote it in such a fragile state. I posted a clip of it on my Instagram a year ago and still get messages about it every week. It’s so cool to see a song that isn’t even out yet resonate with people. I finally recorded it and will be releasing it on my next project.

Why did you choose to release “Party Favor” as your debut single?

I was beginning to release music at a time when the spotlight was really on sexual harassment/ abuse for the first time in a long time. I knew I wanted my debut single to be a message since it’s my first introduction to the world and I feel it’s my duty as an artist to really say something. And “Party Favor” is a message that I really stand behind and the song just had to live it’s life in that exact perfect moment.

Do you consciously think of yourself as an artist who makes empowering or feminist music, or is that just something that seeps into your music organically?

All natural! My catalog is so extensive, I have a song for literally every emotion you can think of, but I think the first few songs were so girl power heavy because I wanted to set the tone for what I’m really about. I’m excited to show people the other sides of me as well.

What’s coming up next for you?

I’m releasing a song next month called “Elevator.” It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done so far. I can’t wait for you to hear it :)

First year Media Studies student with a love for writing and music!
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