For KTSW’s Other Side Drive, I’m Shannon Williams.
SXSW is next week and attendees for official and unofficial showcases will descend upon Austin to scope out talent and fun. One musician that’s local and breaking into the scene is Emily Wolfe.
After attending and graduating from St. Edwards University, musician and songwriter Emily Wolfe works on breaking her way into what she calls the Austin music bubble. Though she’s had troubles and dreamt of change, she seems hopeful for what’s to come and what progress she’s made with her own music.
Now with a full band and a few EPs under her belt, Wolfe anticipates SXSW 2014 and her official showcase at Esther’s Follie’s.
This week, I spoke with Wolfe about the best places to visit in Austin, her experience in breaking into SXSW status, and her 2013 album, “Mechanical Hands.”
Track 1 on the album is the title track of the EP, Mechanical Hands:
“There is a line in the chorus and that line is “stop loving things that can’t love you back,” said Wolfe.
“That was actually a piece of advice that my friend Ted gave me. I actually work with him at my day job. He’s 75, and he has all the great advice. He told me that one day and I was like “Oh, there’s a song in that,” said Wolfe.
Track 2 on the album is: Rabbit Cage.
“This song is actually about your parents, and she’s like no go ahead.”
Track 3: Howl.
“Howl is a fun one because I usually write songs on guitar and just kind of hope that lyrics come out. But for whatever reason I got behind my drum set and was like, “Okay, I want to write a beat that’s really just tribal and fun,” said Wolfe.
Next on 2013s album was Lion Heart, one track that takes Wolfe back to college days. Since the first release of “Lion Heart,” Wolfe has joined with a full band to create a more diverse and fuller sound.
Next on the album: Shadow Boxes.
“Shadow Boxes is about a friend of mine who is a really fantastic musician. He’s a really fantastic musician, really well known and really prolific and he’s a really great guy. But for some reason he or so it seems to me, I don’t know if this is the truth but he seems to pick relationships that will inevitably end so that he can write songs about them.”
As Wolfe has been breaking into the Austin music scene she’s met hardship but found a community of loyal music followers along the way. She says she’s gained a new perspective on the Austin music scene as she’s been a part taking part in it.
“It’s definitely not competitive. I think you’re right, I think it is, it’s just oversaturated. Everybody plays guitar, everybody wants to be accepted into southby, everybody wants to be on the same level but I love everyone that I’ve met, like Lex, Bob Schneider, I feel like everybody who lives here is connected in some way to the music scene.”
Austin calls itself “the live music capital of the world,” a title that draws musicians from not just surrounding areas but also the world. While Austin as a whole is also growing rapidly, Wolfe says the industry isn’t necessarily cutthroat, but that the community can be hard to break into what she calls “the bubble.”
“I looked at the marquis at the Saxon Pub, and I was like Oh Lex is playing tonight. Because she’s one of my best friends. And two year’s ago I would have been like, oh okay. And now I have a connection. I’m more connected in that bubble. There’s definitely a bubble in Austin that musicians have to break through. I think we’re chipping away at it,” said Wolfe.
White Collar Whiskey came to Wolfe about two years ago when she was struggling, as she said, to have the patience for her 8-to-5 day job. The diurnal routine had Wolfe wishing for a way out and creating dreams of running away.
White collar Whiskey is about a super difficult time that I was having. I still have a day job because I need it, I’m not at that point where I can pay my rent on a musicians paycheck if there’s really such thing anymore. I was really frustrated that I couldn’t get past this whole music industry bubble thing. Like I didn’t even feel like I could break through it. I’m a receptionist and I sit at a desk all day waiting for a phone to ring. I wanted to badly for someone to just call my office and be like, “hey here’s a big check, just take it do whatever you want.
Since then, Wolfe said she’s accepted that there will be hardship along her path to success in the music industry. Last year Wolfe played unofficial showcases at Southby, but said that the challenges of moving equipment several blocks to the location due to limited parking, the lack of PA systems, and the chaos were all worth it.
“It’s pretty fun, you can find a lot of great old records in there,” said Wolfe.
You can find Wolfe this SXSW at her band including Hannah Hagar, Sam Pankey, and Jeffrey Olson, at Cheer Up Charlie’s on March 11th, and Esther’s Follie’s on March 13th.
I’m Shannon Williams. For KTSW’s Other Side Drive, this has been an interview with musician and songwriter, Emily Wolfe.