Emily Wolfe is quite steadily climbing up the Austin music scene. After graduating from St. Edwards University in 2012, Wolfe has made a name for herself in the Central Texas region and has recently garnered the attention of staple news sources such as MTV, NPR Music, Paste Magazine, and more. Her soulful, hard-hitting music is most often described as “folk rock” but can thoroughly be understood by listening to her two 2013 EP’s, which she says span completely opposite ranges of her musical stylings. We sat down with Emily and her band members Hannah Hagar, Sam Pankey, and Jeffrey Olson at Weekend 2 of Austin City Limits to talk about their new EP Roulette, what it’s like being a musician in Austin, and more.
How is ACL so far?
EW: Last weekend we play an after show, and that was great. It was a lot of fun.
Who have you seen, or who are you most excited to see?
JO: I really wanna see Mac DeMarco!
HH: Childish Gambino.
JO. They’re just all awesome.
Can you talk a little bit about your music background and how you guys came up in the Austin music scene?
EW: Hannah and I met in college, and we started writing songs together. We started out just as a duo, and it was more acoustic stuff. Then we got an electric guitar together and started to do more rock and roll stuff. Then we met Sam and Jeff, and we started playing more band stuff, and now we have new member Jack in the band, and he makes it all really full-sounding, so that’s really great.
JO: Sam and I met at UT, and we were both there for music. And Jack and I have known each other since high school — we were both musicians.
Artists constantly praise Austin for how great it receives them at shows, etc. Do you think the city of Austin is the perfect place for artists like yourselves to make a name for yourself?
EW: Austin really is great. There are so many artists and so many opportunities, and it is such a creative city that you can’t go wrong being a musician here. I feel like people here really just know how to watch music, and that’s pretty awesome, too.
SP: I also kind of feel like there’s a downside to there being so many musicians here, though, because that means there’s so much competition compared to other places. If you were a band in a small town in, say, Michigan, then it would be pretty easy to get people to come out to your shows and to be the most popular band in that area. But nonetheless, it’s the perfect city to be a musician and be creative.
You released two EP’s in 2013, Mechanical Hands and Night & Day, and have said that stylistically they’re very different. How are these EP’s different from each other?
EW: Well Night & Day is just very, very different from Mechanical Hands. It’s very acoustic, and basically it’s just very low-key and “for the moms.”
JO: It’s for everyone!
EW: No, it is for everyone! It’s just that my mom is really into it. It’s like a mom thing.
HH: Night & Day is like the rainy day, you want to listen to some music under the blanket type of music. It’s pretty romantic.
EW: Mechanical Hands is just full band, and the lyrics are more abstract and not as straight forward like, “Oh, romance!” It’s more like you gotta think about it more and put your own meaning to it.
You just released a new EP titled Roulette in October. Talk a little about this EP. How does it differ from your previous two?
SP: It reflects the sound we’re all trying to go for at the moment, and the bands we’re all kind of into. Jeff got me into a lot of White Denim, and Emily got me into a lot of the stuff she listens to. For me personally, working with our producer Mike Mcarthy made me want to dive into some of the harder stuff he’s into.
EW: It’s a lot more fleshed out than the other stuff we’ve done, too. We did a lot with just really random sounds and experimented with synths, and all that stuff. It was just a lot of experimentation.
HH: It was the first record we all kind of wrote together as a group, instead of Emily writing something and bringing it to the table and we’d flesh it out. It was a lot more group-driven.
Is that how the songwriting process usually works? Emily writes stuff and the rest of you add to it?
EW: Yeah, I usually write just the bare bones of it. I write the lyrics and the guitar part, and I will have an idea of, say, a drum part in my head or something like that. But these guys write their own parts, too, so it’s more of a team effort than anything else.
JO: And it’s becoming even less like that because now we’re more collaborative and wanting to do everything from scratch altogether.
HH: We’ll start jamming and come up with a totally instrumental song and start developing lyrics after that.
You’ve recently been talked about by NPR, MTV, Paste Magazine, and more. How does it feel to be gaining so much recognition?
HH: Kinda surreal, but it’s awesome!
EW: I feel like we’re finally getting to where we’ve worked so hard to get to, and I feel like it’s just the beginning. I feel like we have a lot more things to do and a lot more things to accomplish, but it took so long to get here. It’s kinda like letting out a big breath.
HH: It took so long, but it also kind of happened really quickly. Three years isn’t a lot of time for most bands, so it’s really, really exciting.