Interview with Emily Wells

By
on

The wonderfully talented Emily Wells has been described as “the musician who will crush any preconceived notions you ever had about classical music and hip hop.” I sat down with her at SXSW recently to talk about toy instruments, turning down a record deal as a teenager, and lucky charms.

AfterEllen.com: So Emily, I understand that you play many instruments;

unusual,

toy instruments, etc. Can you name a few favorites?




Emily Wells:
My main instrument is the violin. I’m

also really into little toy instruments. I have a few toy pianos and

always bring one on the road with me. I have little glockenspiels, I

love analog synthesizers, old synthesizers, old drum machines … anything

that I can sample — I’m into. I really like the combination between real

instruments and electronic stuff. I also like the uke a lot … [The Melodica is] a

really cool instrument. You can kinda make a sound like an accordion

because it’s got air going through. You can play chords just like you

would on an accordion, but you can also play single notes.

AE: I love that you are able to use so many instruments to

create a totally unique sound.




EW:
That’s what I’m most interested in. Different

sounds. Whether it’s the drummer or bass player I work with, or a

unique instrument. Like, Joey, the bass player, plays three different

basses. It’s great. It brings something different into it.

AE: Something great about your music is that it doesn’t

really fit into a specific genre. It seems like the two main styles

you merge in

your music are hip-hop and classical. What other influences are there?





EW: I love folk music. I like Bob Dylan … but

so does everyone. He’s definitely someone I totally respect. I would

say I’m also heavily influenced by Jazz, although I’m not sure how much

of that makes it into my work. Gosh, I love anything I can get my ears

on. Just like instruments — whatever I can get my hands on. Old country

music, I love—

AE: So could you see yourself bringing some of that stuff

into future songs? Like merging country and classical or … ?




EW: I don’t know, but that would be cool actually. My

new stuff is really down tempo with the beats and I bring in hip-hop,

for sure, and the classical stuff too. The Symphonies: Dreams

Memories & Parties
album is basically 10 compositions. Some of

them have choruses, but I really focused on the instrumentals. The new

stuff I’m working on still brings in that symphonic element, but has a

more lyrical song base.

AE: Is there anyone who stands out as a childhood

influence? Any current artists you want to mention?




EW:
I grew up in a Classical world because of my

parents. I was playing violin at 4. My dad listened to a lot of church

music. So it wasn’t until I got a little older that I was able to

branch out and listen to stuff like the Beatles, Big

Brother
, and then I really got into early ’90s hip-hop.

As far as

today goes, I go through phases. Lately I’ve been listening to a band

called Department of Evil, which the production is really

good. Another classic of our day is Joanna Newsom — so

brilliant. Especially, her last album … it’s like, wow.

More you may like