“Quietly transfixing” composer / producer Emily Wells is known for her varied use of classical and modern instrumentation, deft approach to live sampling, and “dramatic, meticulous and gothic songs” (New York Times) that blend “traditionalism with electronic ambiance” (NPR). On stage Wells’ builds a “new instrument” out of acoustic and electronic drums, synth, violin, and her evocative solo performances leave audiences equal parts dancing and grieving. Her latest work, This World is Too _____ For You, arranged for chamber ensemble by composer Michi Wiancko, was commissioned by Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series premiered in November 2017 and further commissioned by Metropolis Ensemble. It will be released as a studio album in 2019 with performances by Metropolis Ensemble.
“The new songs are the rub between desire for, and desire to strip oneself of all wanting” Wells says of the new material, which clamors around all the edges, and sometimes into the center of our collective uncertainties.
“I grew up with hymns and I often find myself drawn to a form that seeks redemption, even for transgressions unknown... they are an offering, an oath. As a queer kid raised in the south and the midwest by a music minister and a preacher's daughter I am interested in the reclamation of themes and ideas that have often been used to constrain me.” Of Wells’ video work, which accompanies her performances, she says, “the video and the songs are mirrors of one another: grace, the body, movement, and the natural world, beating against our windows, drunk with the answer.”
My work bridges pop and chamber music and explores concepts around human relation to the natural world rooted in a love for both. I am interested in the ways performance and recordings influence one another and I work in both realms. At times I perform solo utilizing multiple instruments on stage (violin, synth, acoustic/electronic drums, voice), and at other times I perform with small orchestral ensembles. My work also interacts with my video practice through projection at performances which intersects imagery of contemporary dance, extreme weather and effects of climate crisis as well as protest footage from ACT UP.