Emily Wolfe Chats About ‘Roulette,’ Dream Rock + Performing at CMJ
Hailing from Austin, Wolfe has a full-length under her belt -- 'Director's Notes' (2012) -- and two EPs that preceded 'Roulette' -- 'Night & Day' a d 'Mechanical Hands' (2013).
Although she was initially known for her singer-songwriter and acoustic material, she's going harder on the recently released 'Roulette.' Along with her bandmates -- keyboardist and singer Hannah Hagar, bassist Sam Pankey and drummer Jeffrey Olson -- Wolfe shows a sassier side with songs like 'Swoon' and 'Missionary Son.'
We had the chance to chat with the frontwoman about everything going on in her life, including the new EP, coming to New York and tips every band should know about going on a road trip.
Let's start with the new EP. It sounds a lot more layered and electronic than your earlier work. What was your approach to this one?
I like to keep people on their toes. I feel like I just write depending on my mood. So I'll just do acoustic stuff, like on my first record, but then on 'Roulette,' I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, Jack White and Linda Ronstadt. I think that kind of rubbed off. And I really wanted to rock and roll because we just added this new guitar player, and it's so awesome. It's a lot more fun to play the full band stuff live. It's also so much more fun to record as a full band instead of doing it by myself. But if there's super emotional things that I want to get out through a song, I think that's where the acoustic comes from. I think 'Night and Day' was really driven by that, and then 'Roulette,' I really like to diversify the sound. I think pigeonholing my sound is something I'm super afraid of, and that's why I'm all over the place.
You're music has been referred to as dream rock. What is that exactly?
I had this lifelong dream of creating this new genre of music. So dream rock is something that we're trying to make happen. I just have a super-soft voice, and I'm not a loud person. I'm also laid back, and so that's where the vocal sound comes from. Then when you add the band to it, it's just more loose and strange.
What's your favorite track to play from 'Roulette?'
'Ghost Limb.' That one is a lot of fun. I think the first track on the record is so much fun to play live. I can't get enough of it.
Is this your first CMJ appearance?
Yeah, we've never played it before. It's going to be a super new experience. We're going to drive up to New York, and I'm nervous. But I'm super excited.
Will it also be your first time in New York?
We actually played New York [for the first time] last summer. We played the small stage at Rockwood [Music Hall], and that was super fun. New York is so different from Austin. Everything is within super-close quarters, and Austin is so spread out. So it's something that takes time to get used to, but I like New York a lot. My sister is actually moving there before we come so I'll be able to stay there. That'll be fun.
You guys have a pretty packed schedule for CMJ, but is there anything you want to see while you're in New York?
I totally want to get some Chinese food. I mean, the Chinese food there is so good. You guys have the tiny boxes, and those are awesome. I don't know much about New York. I wish I knew more -- maybe go to a museum like the [Metropolitan Museum of Art].
Since you mentioned that you're driving up to New York, what are some tips for being on a long road trip?
Well, I would say, one, bring a video camera because people will get delirious. So it'll be fun filming people sleeping and messing with them and stuff. And bring a bunch of Goldfish [crackers] and snacks. And put your feet up because the fluids will go straight to your ankles and will swell up.
Last year on our trip to New York, I was basically sitting down in one position for long periods of time, and I got out of the car and my ankles were so swollen. It looked like I had one of those swimming floaties on. It was crazy. Change positions every once in a while. And bring music, too!
So what are your plans for the band after CMJ?
We are planning to record a full-length album next summer. I'm not sure when it'll be put out, but once I get back, I'm just going to write as much as possible for it. We're not on a label right now. We're completely independent, which is awesome, but financially it's very difficult. Hopefully one day, we'll get to do a full U.S. tour, but we'll definitely record some songs next summer. But for now, the plan is just to play a lot around Texas and places we can afford to go.
Check out the dates and set times (all ET) below to see when Emily Wolfe will be playing at this year's CMJ Music Marathon:
Oct. 22: Living Room -- 10:40PM to 11:10PM
Oct. 23: Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 -- 7PM to 7:45PM
Oct. 23: The Delancy - 9:45PM -- 10:15PM
Oct. 23: The Delancy Upstairs -- 10:20PM - 10:50PM