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November 20, 1981 |
Amarillo, Texas, United States
|Genres||Alternative, experimental, classical|
|Musician, composer, arranger, producer|
|Instruments||Violin, piano, cello, viola, guitar, drum programming, synthesizer, etc.|
|Clint Mansell, Terry Riley, Questlove, etc.|
Emily Wells (born November 20, 1981) is an American multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, arranger, and producer whose genres encompass alternative, experimental, and classical. While initially known for playing violin, she performs with diverse instruments in her work, including cellos, viola, and analog synthesizers. During her live performances she often samples live "using a series of live loops, sample pads and acoustic drums to make rich and haunting neo-gospel with layers of strings and vocal harmonies"; her most recent album features "dramatic, meticulous and gothic song".
She has largely produced, recorded and performed her solo albums on her own, and after several solo releases, her album Mama was released on Partisan Records in 2012, to a positive critical reception. She released a full-length album in January 2016, on her own imprint Thesis and Instinct. She has performed live at notable festivals both in the United States and internationally, and collaborated with artists such as Clint Mansell and Questlove.
Emily Wells was born in Amarillo, Texas, United States. Her father was a music minister, and Wells began playing the violin at age four. In 1990 she moved with her family to Indianapolis, Indiana, where she lived until she began traveling in 2000. While traveling she made her residence primarily in New York, where she would later move after an 8-year stay in Los Angeles.
At age thirteen she began issuing her own recordings on cassette, starting with an unofficial release with 100 copies. After several unofficial tapes, in 2000 she "took up" with Epic Records but did not actually sign with them.Beautiful Sleepyhead & the Laughing Yaks was her official full-length debut in 2006, with all the tracks written, performed, produced, and mixed by Wells herself. Her sophomore album The Symphonies featured bassist Joey Reina and drummer Sam Halterman alongside Wells.
After her two official releases, the iTunes editors opined in 2008 that "Emily Wells has a unique voice, one that is equal parts honey and stinger: it's a sweet, syrupy enticement, but there are clear implications of darker things to come... her second full-length, Symphonies... is as complex and beguiling as its name might imply, but it never weighs down in intellectual phoniness or theatrics." Wells was interviewed and performed "Symphony 1 in the Barrel of a Gun" on episode four of Last Call with Carson Daly, which aired through NBC on September 18, 2009. In September 2010, after recently moving from Los Angeles to New York, Wells was joined onstage by vocalist and harmonium player Shilpa Ray. The performance was positively reviewed by The New Yorker.
|Emily Wells - "Mama's Gonna Give You Love" Music Video (July 2012)|
In 2012, she released her full-length album Mama through Partisan Records. It had been recorded "in a tiny cabin on a Topanga Canyon horse ranch."Music OMH gave Mama a score of 4/5/5, writing that the release "has a freshness and vitality about it that proves startling." Beyond the songwriting, Impose Magazine praised her vocals in the album, writing that it was "a voice that's made precious while somehow also being distorted, raspy, repressed and hushed." Giving it a score of 80/100, In Your Speakers called it "cathartic," writing that "although Wells does not emulate her jazz and folk influences, she maintains the rawness and the passion of them, one being Bob Dylan."Bring the Noise praised the release, giving it 8/10 and calling it both "one of the most interesting albums of the year so far," and a "fine example of what can happen when someone ignores the traditional boundaries of music genres."
The lead single, "Momma's Gonna give You Love," was featured in The New Yorker on April 10, 2012, which wrote that she has a "moving voice and a boundless imagination." She also released a free remixed version of Mama on Partisan, with remixers such as Jeremiah Jae, Kid Koala, Baths, and Deerhoof. As of 2012 she was collaborating on material with Clint Mansell, a scorewriter and former frontman of Pop Will Eat Itself. That April 2012 she created a featured mixtape for Magnet Magazine, and Wells has periodically performed live sessions for recording studios, websites, and radio stations, including Daytrotter in April 2012,WYNC's Soundcheck in May 2013, Laundro Matinee in October 2014, and KCRW in June 2013.
Wells has written tour diaries and articles for such publications as American Songwriter,Impose Magazine, and The Huffington Post, and she has appeared live multiple times on NPR, with an interview on All Songs Considered on April 4, 2013, and a live performance on KCRW on July 11, 2013. In 2013 she composed a song for director Park Chan-Wook's movie Stoker and toured South Korea promoting the film. A single titled "Passenger" for a then upcoming acoustic version of Mama was released in 2013.The Guardian named her New Band of the Week No. 1,503 on April 30, 2013.
An acoustic version of Mama was released in on June 11, 2013 in the United States and United Kingdom through Partisan Records. It had been recorded with a Tascam 388, with no digital effects added to the basic instrumentation. Her songwriting methods were featured in a July 2013 edition of Performer Magazine, with the publication writing that Mama - Acoustic Recordings shows the artist at her most raw, vulnerable state." Among other shows, Wells performed at Le Guess Who? festival in The Netherlands in November 2013, and also that year she collaborated live with Questlove at Electronium in 2013. She performed with The Roots and Aloe Blacc at the Rock the Clinton Global Initiative event that year as well.
"Momma's Gonna Give You Love" was used in the January 2015 trailer for season 3 of the TV series Bates Motel. On March 27, 2015, Wells gave a well-received keynote at Hackfort2 at the fourth annual Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho wherein she presented her methods of composition at the intersection of art and technology and the growth of her sensibility as a musician. Performing with a reduced kit sans drums, she played earlier and later versions of her song "So, Sunday." As a headliner on the main stage on the final day of the Treefort in 2015, Wells was regarded as "undoubtedly a highlight of the festival" for her "intensely meticulous and emotional performance." She participated in the festival's Yogafort as well.
Wells was also broadcast on air by WQXR in March 2015, when she performed at Ecstatic Music Festival for the 80th birthday party of Terry Riley, along with other musicians such as Marco Benevento, Nancy Whang, and Face the Music. She has a new full-length album coming out in January 2016, on her own imprint Thesis and Instinct.
According to music critics, Wells' music incorporates diverse genres, while her solo material "merge[s] ... hip-hop and classical". She uses many other instruments in her work beyond violin, including cello, viola, and analog synthesizers. She often creates her own loops whilst performing, "using a series of live loops, sample pads and acoustic drums to make rich and haunting neo-gospel with layers of strings and vocal harmonies." In 2015, Wells stated that amongst her influences are the music theorist John Cage, whom she paraphrased ('"Music is a purposeless play meant simply to wake us up to the life we're living...'"), the minimalist composer Philip Glass, and the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
|2004||Music for Geek Love||Self-released||2004|
|2007||Beautiful Sleepyhead & the Laughing Yaks||Edub Productions||Apr 12, 2007|
|2008||The Symphonies: Dreams, Memories & Parties||Creative Control Records||Jul 08, 2008|
|2012||Mama||Partisan Records||Apr 10, 2012|
|2013||Mama (Acoustic Recordings)||Partisan Records||Jun 11, 2013|
|2016||Promise||Thesis and Instinct||Jan 29, 2016|
|2017||In the Hot||Thesis and Instinct||Mar 03, 2017|
|2009||Dirty||Creative Control Records (2009)|
|2008||"O Holy Night"||Single only||Creative Control (Oct 10, 2008)|
|2012||"Becomes the Color"||Single only||Milan Entertainment (Oct 30, 2012)|
|2013||Pillowfight (Emily Wells with Dan The Automator)||Bulk Recordings/EMI||2013|
|Year||Single name||Primary artist(s)||Album||Release details|
|2008||"Symphony 3: The Story" (with Emily Wells)||Dwight Farrell||The Symphonies||Creative Control (2008)|
|"Gee Whiz" (with Emily Wells)||Buck 65||Dirtbike 1/3||(Aug 2008)|
|2013||"Becomes the Color" (ft. Emily Wells)||Various||Stoker soundtrack||Scott Free Productions (Jan 20, 2013)|
|"If I Ever Had a Heart" (ft. Emily Wells)||Various||Scott Free Productions (Jan 20, 2013)|
|"My Only Love" (ft. Emily Wells)||Deltron 3030||Event 2||Bulk Recordings (Sept 30, 2013)|