She's one of the most delightful music discoveries I've made in recent years. Austin-based singer/songwriter Emily Wolfe, already making a name for herself with her ferocious guitar skills, is embarking on a national tour. Wolfe's heartfelt lyrics, her fresh but evocative melodies, her tongue-in-cheek, tomboyish angst, and her sincere nod to grunge are winning her music-loving fans all over. For a taste of her talent, take a look at the video for "Something Better" — with Wolfe's mock-brattish candy tantrum and complete indifference to the attentions of an almost naked gay house husband. And just wait till the last section to see those guitar chops on display!
Raves for Wolfe's summer release Outlier are pouring in from outlets like American Songwriter, Atwood, and idobi. And it's on the female empowerment blues-rock offering "No Man" that we really see Wolfe's sizzling string ability.
I caught up with Wolfe as she was about to hit the road.
You're based in Austin, one of America's music capitals. How did you arrive there and what inspires you about it?
Emily: My family moved to a suburb of Austin when I was about 8 years old. I didn’t ever feel like I fit in there, partly due to my sexuality, and partly due to being around people I just couldn’t relate to. After highschool, I went to college in downtown Austin at St. Edward’s University and really started to dive into the music scene and culture of the city during those years. There was a show somewhere every night of the week, so I loved going out to see bands. I started a band of my own in college and from there I grew into doing my own thing musically. My first headlining show ever was here in Austin, so it’s a very special place to me. Austin has a strong sense of community that’s based on art and music. It’s a pretty unique place.
You really are a guitar goddess — it's not hype. What was the ah-ha moment that set you on this path and why did you choose the electric guitar as your signature instrument?
Emily: Thank you! I started at a really young age because I loved the way the guitar looked. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen as a 5 year old. From there I just latched on and it’s been a part of me ever since.
How does Outlier represent you as an artist and is this new project more in line with who you are as an artist than your previous work?
Emily: The new album definitely represents growth and an acceptance of being open to new ideas. My previous [2019 self-titled] album is very much based on the power-trio sound of guitar, drums, and bass. But I wanted to branch out and do something more interesting on this record. I’d say Outlier is just a different side of me. I’ve always loved pop music so I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate that love into my current sound.
Can you tell us about your influences and inspirations whether they are musical, personal or both?
Emily: Musically, I’m inspired by unique guitar players like Josh Homme and Jack White, the arrangements of Motown songs, '90s grunge and modern pop.
Is there anything you’d like to share about your connection with the LGBTQIA+ community?
Emily: As part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I’m married to the love of my life, Brittany. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
The pandemic and lockdowns have been so hard for musicians who tour and play live gigs. How did you get through this and what was your best tool for keeping a positive attitude?
Emily: The pandemic took away touring, which is my favorite part about being a musician, but I am grateful that it gave me time to write Outlier. I used pretty much all of quarantine to do pre-production for the album. That helped me keep my sanity.
You are supporting Joan Jett on a few tour dates, have you played with her before and are you excited about the new dates?
Emily: I’ve played one show with her before. I opened a show for Joan and Heart at the Cajun Dome and it was an incredible experience. I’m excited to see her play again because she’s such a rock & roll icon. nI’m so excited for this upcoming tour and I can’t wait to tour this new record.