I have been toying with the idea of doing a segment where I interview artists that I feel have amazing and inspiring talent. This was very scary for me, because I have never done anything this BIG. It was really nerve raking to go out of my comfort zone and take a risk. But I want to give a big thanks to Steph of The-Loudmouth for guiding me through something so big, and helping me with coming up with the questions to ask, and for just giving me so much support to take the leap and do something new. Thank you so much Steph!
The Artist to be featured first for this new segment is the incredible Emily Wells! The first time I heard her music, was when I was listening to a playlist on 8tracks.com, and I have to say that she absolutely blew my mind. Her music is a fusion of hip-hop and classical that I found to be really inspiring. The only thing that is better than that is her voice and her mind-blowing live performances. It was actually hearing her music that inspired me to start this segment. I couldn’t be selfish and keep her all to myself, I just had to make sure that everyone know’s who she is! So I tweeted her asking if she would be interested (not really expecting a reply). I flipped when she replied with a “Yes.” I took it as a sign that this is what I was supposed to be doing. So here we are with this amazing interview for you all to read and get to know Emily Wells the person, and what inspires her music.
1. How did you come up with your signature sound?
I don’t know that it’s the sort of thing one really comes up with…
It developed over time and continues to develop, mostly through
listening… being influenced by music from childhood to the present.
As well as experimenting… practicing… Figuring out what works and
what doesn’t, what travels well, what i respond to when I’m
writing/producing, what the audience responds to when i play live. I
played with a drummer and a bass player for years, (and will again,
just a bit of a lone wolf right now), and they of course contributed a
lot to the sound and the style. Anytime you play or collaborate with
someone else i think you learn from each other… hopefully yes? So
I’d say it’s an ever changing thing… my “signature sound”…
2. Where did you grow up, and how do you think this affected your sound?
I grew up in Texas til age 9, then Indianapolis. I went to a high
school where everyone listened to rap… including me. I mean we all
loved Nirvana in Jr. High, but then it was all Outkast and Tupac and
Biggie… Then i fell in love with jazz (live jazz) and Al Green, and
classic rock, and Bjork and Radiohead… But I also grew up in a
family full of music. My dad was a music minister throughout my
childhood at big Christian churches with a budget for a choir and
orchestra and elaborate pageants (with camels and shit like that)….
He was always very committed to the classical religious music (no drum
kits or electric guitars for this man)…. Besides all that he is a
french horn player of extreme skill and has a lot of knowledge about
classical music so i built an appreciation, then a rebellion, then an
appreciation again of this world.
What made you realize that music was your passion?
It’s just kind of always been there… I wanted to play the violin
from the time i was a really little kid…. then i wanted to write
songs… then i wanted people to listen to me play said songs. Then i
wanted to record and play and record and play… Passion and/or
obsession haha… perhaps these are synonymous
When did you start performing?
I had recitals from a very young age… 4 or 5.. perhaps that’s not
what you mean… Performing as the artist known as Emily Wells? i
Are there any pre-performance rituals that you do?
I try to feed on the joy and strange not quite anxious feeling i
get… I don’t drink… i bounce around and stretch and do boxing
moves… i think about what it will feel like to play the first song
instead of the whole show… it makes the whole thing seem more
possible and not so conceptual… Once you get your hands on the
first song or two the rest hopefully flows.
6. What has been the hardest thing about making music?
7. What was your favorite moment of being a musician thus far?
I don’t know that i can say i have one defining moment…. I think
being in my studio writing and that feeling of getting on a horse
running so fast and sometimes slow motion… It’s a drug…. Lately,
however i have begun to feel that freedom on stage, and this might be
the best thing ever.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Work hard. practice. be inspired by the world around you and your
friends, listen to them… Explore all different eras of music. buy
vinyl. don’t imitate, but be influenced. walk around town with
headphones on. give your time to it
9. What made you decide to loop during your live performances?
Being a violinist i was frustrated with not being about to really
utilize that instrument live. I had been scoring a short film and was
loving the lushness of all those strings together. Plus, i love
recording / production in general… at that point I preferred it to
live performance. I’d had a loop pedal lying around for a few years
that I’d occasionally fuck around with but always found too
challenging to rely on at a live performance. Your timing must be
impeccable, and there’s a lot of potential for train wrecks… But one
night i wrote symphony 1 and it was on… and i decided to learn that
pedal like a classical instrument… (this is where the practice comes
in)… Eventually i graduated to a bigger, more versatile and complex
pedal and the whole thing just kept growing… Still does… It allows
me to realize a lot of ideas live without having 20 people on stage
with me. I still wanna play with an orchestra though.
10. The first song I ever heard of your’s was “Fair thee Well” What was your
inspiration for the song?
That song is about the people in your past that you love (and i don’t
mean lovers, i mean friends and even family), that you leave behind.
This song was for them… a funeral dirge, a requiem, an homage.
(These are the original questions and answers. Nothing has been edited or altered.)
And here is the first song “Fair thee well” that I have ever heard from Emily Wells, followed by a video of her performing “Symphony 1 In the Barrel of a Gun.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I have and still do.