by Jake Navarro July 31, 2015
Musicians on the Austin scene want to make it. Emily Wolfe, however, wants to become a super-legend. When you talk to, listen and experience the Wolfe live, you end up thinking it's not a far-fetched idea.
The badass rocker-chick agreed to sit down with MyCityATX this past week. With a quirky and funny persona on stage, Emily ended up giving the most honest and vulnerable artist interview to date.
Jack White being her dream collaboration, The "Swoon" songwriter starts by sharing some of her musical influences that one wouldn't readily expect.
"It's not that prevelant in what I play. I think it's the passion in Motown music that I really want to emulate. It's the simple words with so much feeling. Groups like The Temptations, they can sing one word, and it's like, "Oh, my God. There's so much emotion in that.""
With almost no time to even consider other artists, she continues.
"I would also say Linda Ronstadt. My mom had all of her vinyls, and she gave them to me. There are bands these days I really like too, like On and On. They just put out a record that's really great."
Emily laughs because she uses "these days" and jokes that she feels like an old woman.
While she is light-hearted and funny, she possesses the ability to leave you feeling like you have something big going for yourself.
"This is exactly where I wanted to be, you know? Talking to people like you, playing gigs, making music. This is what I wanted to be doing with my days," the rocker admits.
Although she's able to rock out and inspire others with her insightful thoughts, things weren't always that way.
Emily thinks back to working her day job as a receptionist at a construction company when I ask her about particular set of lyrics in her 2013 song, "White Collar Whiskey."
"I don't think anyone would notice [those changes in the lyrics]. That's so great," she starts, "In 2013, I had this 8-to-5 day job. It was hell, because it wasn't music. I dreaded it so much. I answered their phones which rang once a day. I'm the kind of person that needs to be busy. I have to work with my hands. During college, I worked in the main office which was this super white-collar office. They had whiskey in the meeting rooms. When the company started changing, they put me out in the field with the construction workers--like "let's fucking build this--"
Emily stops herself and apologizes for dropping the f-bomb. I reassure her it's fine and encourage her to continue.
"I saw the white and blue collar part of the industry. I felt really caught in the middle of it, because I didn't want to do any of it, but I had to make money somehow. I was sitting in the back, answering their phone calls and getting them coffee. All I wanted to be doing was making music."
We take a quick journey back to her childhood to find out what inspired her to pick up the guitar and start creating.
"I took a couple lessons when I was six. I was pretty bad at it," she begins.
The local musician chuckles when I let her know I struggled to learn how to play the guitar when I was in middle school trying to learn Oasis' "Wonderwall."
"I'm a by-ear learner. I was really bad at reading sheet music. We moved to Corpus Christi, and I didn't have any friends. I just messed around with my instruments in my room all the time and I taught myself. Ever since then, it's just been fun, you know? I've never really taken lessons, because, for me, it takes the passion out of it. Lessons are great if you want to learn more about [guitar], but, for me, they way I learn is by doing."
"My relationship with the guitar: I can't even explain it. It feels like it's just an extension of myself. A lot of times, it's hard for me to grasp my own emotions. When I sit down with a guitar, it all comes out in the strings. It's hard to explain.
Although Emily shreds the electric and can put on a fantastic full-band show, she enlightens me as to why she thinks keeping an acoustic sound also is so important.
"I feel like doing both is where I'm suppose to be. When I'm really sad, it can be so deep that I need to get it out in a more of an acoustic song. When I'm super excited, it's like, "I want to fucking shred right now!""
The creative process definitely had some drawbacks for the hungry artist. She fills me in on some issues with previous management.
"I've had people tell me I had to choose, because they needed to pin-point my sound. They told me they needed to know what my genre was so they can write about it on blogs. My thoughts are: "If they want to write about it, they can write about it. It doesn't need a genre." I'm not going to pigeon-hole myself into one thing," she reaffirms.
Wolfe goes on to say that it's just easier for managers and promoters to label an artist to be able to book shows, but explains that she'd much rather play to the audience depending on the venue and mood.
With the ability to play so differently, Emily tells MyCityATX that she recently experienced some writer's block.
"I wrote a full song a couple of weeks ago that I'm really proud of. Reed Turner told me that I can get out of writer's block if I can get one song out that I'm proud of. Hopefully, my writer's block is done, but it seems like it's harder to write now because I'm sober. I've struggled with addiction for a couple of years. When I was drinking heavily, things would just spill out of me," Wolfe says as she takes a sip of her Red Bull.
She recalls the times when the words and melodies came so freely.
"It's liquid courage. I thought whatever I said was art, but now it's a little harder to craft the sentence that I want. It's harder for me to not care as much as I do compared to when I was drinking," Emily finishes.
I ask if the lyrics, "I don't feel alive unless I have someone to chase" were words she put together during this stage of her life.
She collects her thoughts and opens up,
"Yeah, totally. I wrote that song about how I was falling into my addiction. I was almost chasing anything good out of my life, because I wanted something to pull me out of where I was. That was a really powerful line, as well. I definitely don't feel that way anymore, though, because of the treatment and self-help I've been through. I feel a lot better. Life is way better than it was."
With thoughts of playing festivals like Lollapalooza and headlining her own tour, Wolfe has moments when she gets discouraged, but not after I share what her music has done for me personally.
"That's really nice to hear. A lot of days, I don't really know if all of the work is paying off, then I hear that, and I think: "OK! I can do this."
"How are you different that everyone else on the Austin music scene?" I finally ask.
"I don't know if a lot of other artists have the drive to be a super-legend the way I have it deep in my soul. I want to be--not rich and famous--but this unique thing in the industry. I have super intense ambition. Not that other people don't have it, but I feel like I'm going to explode if I don't have any shows coming up."
Emily Wolfe is a powerhouse that has the motivation, will and talent to truly shine in the music industry. Now, it's just a waiting game as she shreds the electric on stages around Austin and plays her favorite originals to audiences excited to experience the live show.