Emily Wolfe: “Modern pop songs immediately get stuck in your head. For me, that’s the goal. I would defend pop music to the grave”

Emile Wolfe’s second album, Outlier, takes its bluesy rock stylings and adds a burst of pop shine to the recipe, courtesy of producer Michael Schuman’s commercial ear. This shouldn’t be a surprise; Wolfe expressed his equal appreciation for Ariana Grande and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“For me, pop is so important and so relevant. When you listen to modern pop, these songs immediately get stuck in your head. For me, that’s the point of art, to stick. I would defend pop music to the grave.

Wolfe started playing at the age of five, but had a few false starts before he found his groove. “It wasn’t easy at first – it definitely took a minute. I started trying to learn on my own, then I had a lesson with someone who told me I was no good, which put me off a bit, but when we moved from North Carolina to Texas, I definitely latched onto the guitar as a way of coping with being in a new place as a teenager. It evolved from there.

Wolfe’s guitar sound is a rich, mid-weight crunch that contains elements of Billy Gibbons’ signature sound. “He has a big influence. I tried a lot to emulate his tone – super medium and chunky. I love the mids, especially with my Epiphone Sheraton, which sounds so fat and fits into the mix really well.

The Sheraton she refers to is actually her signature guitar. “I play this pattern now; it is identical to those in store. The first prototype had super hot pickups that didn’t work with the body, but we changed to low output pickups. It really sings.

Wolfe’s pedalboard is packed with effects to help achieve that thick, mellow sound: “There are three key pedals I gravitate towards: EarthQuaker Device’s Tentacle, which is an octave-up pedal; a Fulltone TOC; and a six-band MXR EQ. Prior to that in my channel, I use an Origin Effects Cali 76, which is a fantastic compressor; it’s so transparent, but it seems to make me play better.

“Live, I use a Fender Deville 410 because it’s super reliable. In the studio I use a variety of amps ranging from Silvertones to old tweed Fenders and a Concert Reverb 4×10 which is the most amazing sounding amp I own but if I physically move it I’m scared that it’ will collapse.

Wolfe is unapologetic about his desire to score hit singles. “I feel like that’s the goal, but I also want to make sure that the songs I write come from a place of honesty, not anything to get a hit. The goal for me is for the song to be something that resonates with people on a level that they didn’t know they could feel; the priority for me is reality in everything I do.

  • Outlier is now available through Crows Feet Records.

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