“I’m mostly euphoric,” Emily Wells tells us, fresh off her performance at NeueHouse Madison Square. The multi-instrumentalist musician has many a cause to celebrate, with the release of her newest EP Promise (the first under her own imprint, Thesis and Instinct), already garnering positive reviews and putting her back on the road. Having picked up an interest in music at a prodigal age (she began playing the violin when she was four), Wells has firmly established her place in the music industry. After 17 years of breaking the mold, Wells’ performance and newest album prove that she’s nowhere near done surprising us.
NeueJournal: What is your current state of mind?
Emily Wells: I’m mostly euphoric and I’ve been focusing on a lot of details lately, which is not my favorite thing so I am in a brief state of relief. I’m getting ready to leave for three months so all of the normal traveling stuff mixed with a tour and releasing an album…things going right, things going wrong etc.
NJ: Is the glass half full or half empty?
EW: It depends on the time of day. It’s overflowing now. Last night it was the dregs. I think when you are in a state of thinking about too many things at once they all start to conflate so one piece of misery taints the whole batch.
NJ: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?
EW: I’m indifferent, but I have a sweetheart so I’ll probably do something really sweet for her because I’m not going to be with her that day. It’s gonna have to be through the mail or a serenade. She’s really into funny jokes and grandiose gestures so I think I should probably hop on that.
NJ: What is the meaning of life?
EW: Come on! I don’t know what it is, it’s too much. There is no meaning.
NJ: What is your motto?
EW: Stay curious. Stay present.
NJ: How do you define success?
EW: Just getting to keep doing what I’m doing and I hope that I can really feel that every day. I wasn’t able to conceive of adulthood or success, but I was always driven to play music. I love playing music for people; it’s an incredible experience and there is nothing like it – my father has it too.
NJ: What song best describes your work ethic?
EW: Maybe ‘Working On A Chain Gang’ by Sam Cooke.
NJ: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
EW: Hmm, I have to think about this one. I’m picturing every conversation I’ve had with my mother. I think just to remember the highs.
NJ: What’s a fun fact about you that people might not be aware of?
EW: I’m recently getting into crystals and stones.
NJ: Do you get upset if they are touched? I know there are theories about the transfer of energies, etc.
EW: No, I like it…but I want to give you permission to touch. It’s like a woman with a pregnant belly; you can’t just go running over and rub her belly. You have to have access granted. I carry some crystals in my pocket although they’re not on me right now. It started kind of as a joke. My girlfriend is really into that stuff and I would always tease her and make fun of her, but then she would read to me about stones and it was like a lullaby. Now I’m really into it.
NJ: Who are your real life heroes?
EW: My dad and my mom for very different reasons. They are both very brave in different ways, and I admire that.
NJ: Who are your fictional heroes?
EW: Well gosh, I am drawing a blank. We have a joke…I say I’d go gay for Don Draper. Everyone knows what he is, but I wouldn’t call him a hero. There is a hunchback albino little person called Olympia in this book called Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I named my dog after her.
NJ: If you could have any super power what would it be?
EW: Not to give a fuck what other people think.
NJ: What natural talent would you like to possess?
EW: Just sort of an athletic nature, I’d love to be really light on my feet.
NJ: What situation makes you feel the most uncomfortable?
EW: Probably when I’m playing and there’s some asshole talking near by. Like a room full of quiet people and then two people chatting – it makes my skin crawl and it makes me detach from the performance.
NJ: In what situation are you the most content?
EW: When I am squished between my girl and my dog. Those are the moments when I am like, “this is a good moment.”
GIF: Mr. GIF x Ira Chernova for NeueJournal