Interview with Emily Wells


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


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.

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?

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

, 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.

Zergnet Code