Michael Louis Serafin-Wells

 
 

Bio

Michael Serafin-Wells - Musician

Michael is the lead guitarist, singer and songwriter for NYC-based dreampop trio Bipolar Explorer - whose double-record Of Love and Loss was named to the Critics Poll of Best Albums of the Year by Ground Control Magazine who called it "the most significantly stirring and addictive musical accomplishment we've come across in some time - taut, emotional, urgent and altogether haunting" and cited by PopMatters as "eclectic, steadfast and powerful".

Of Love and Loss is of, for and about Bipolar Explorer's fallen bandmate, Michael's love and partner, Summer Serafin (who passed away in 2011 after a tragic accident). The double-record is comprised of the studio tracks begun with Summer on dual-vocals recorded in late 2010 and the songs written and recorded by Michael after her tragic passing. Proceeds from the record are marked for the memorial fund in Summer's name at The University of Minnesota Medical Foundation.

More about the band: Of Love and Loss and its follow-up, Angels (2015) - “Electrifying, what music fueled by raw love and emotions sounds like” - each a Critics Pick for Best Albums of the Year by Ground Control Magazine, Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based dreampop, post-rock trio founded by Summer Serafin (vocals) and Michael Serafin-Wells (lead guitar & vocals, bass and percussion), notable for intimate, electric live performances, unimpeachable songwriting, uncompromising DIY ethos and their playing without drums.

Featured on the legendary Irene Trudel's show on WFMU ("America's best radio station" - Rolling Stone) who calls their sound "beautiful, great drifty pop, filled with sadness and wonder", the band’s newest album, Dream Together, was released on Slugg Records New Years Day 2017.

 

France’s Indiemusic Magazine hailed it as “Magical and majestic. An ultimate tour-de-force.

Recorded, mixed and produced by the band at The Shrine in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Dream Together is the group’s sixth album overall and their second in just the span of a year.

In June 2016, the group released Electric Hymnal, a sixteen track collection of devotional songs and spoken word (both secular and sacred) - a meditation and sonic prayer for their fallen bandmate, Michael's true love and partner, Summer Serafin - in a limited edition one-time pressing on CD only (no digital), offering it free of charge, as a gift of faith.

Again, praised by Ground Control: "...Get ready to be swept up and away by a prayerful reverie of melodies. Listening, I began to feel like I was flying. Don’t forget that Bipolar Explorer is a post-rock band. Low growling vocals, gnarly grinding tempos, rhythmic looping strands that escape and rise above the weight of this world, where angels and the living mingle..."

The interweaving of spoken word into the band’s work was explained by Serafin-Wells recently in conversation with USC filmmaker, Alexandra Dennis-Renner, who is making a documentary, “Sonic Prayer”, about the band.

Having begun work on a live performance art installation adaptation of their double-album, Of Love and Loss - first presented as a "concert performance" in Brooklyn in October 2015 and expected to premiere in a found, possibly sacred venue sometime early-2017 - Serafin-Wells says,“the idea of a female voice, a spoken word narrator - like in a novel or off-camera in a film - came to mind. To tell the story in tandem with the band, supported by film projections in collaboration with a visual artist. And once I wrote the narrative voice for the live “Of Love”, that just started to seem a natural thing, making its way into “Electric Hymnal” and “Dream Together”. Ya know? In that way that things sort of cross-pollinate through multiple projects. We were listening a lot to Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of A Dog” at the time and we kinda thought... yeah.”

 

In artistic collaboration with several visual artist friends of the band, both Of Love and Loss and Dream Together are conceived for performance as live installation pieces, in intimate, non-traditional settings. Immersive and multi-media, this direction might well be seen as a natural outgrowth of the band’s perennial choice of performance setting - art galleries - and other non-traditional venues.

Forging an unique sound - described variously as shoegaze, dreampop, slowcore, post-rock and minimalist indie - well serves the new songs Serafin-Wells began writing in the aftermath of the tragic loss of the group's female vocalist, Michael's love and partner, Summer Serafin, who passed away after a tragic accident in 2011. She was just 31. At work at the time on a new record, the group eventually returned to those recordings, adding them to a handful of newly written songs post-tragedy and re-conceiving the album as both a testament and tribute to Ms. Serafin – muse, collaborator and True Love - yielding a double-album, Of Love and Loss, released to great acclaim in October 2012.

As Michael told Indiemusic’s Raphael Duprez in a feature about the band (February 2017): “All of this is entirely for her. I often say that our music, each album, is of, for and about her. It’s my way of telling people about her and talking to her myself. That’s  the “for’ and “about” parts of the equation. And Summer remains an integral part of the band - not only as its inspiration but, because I have lots of her isolated vocals from other recording sessions - as her voice, both spoken and singing, graces each record. I’ll write songs and fly in her voice. Summer isn’t the main reason BPX goes on, she’s the only reason. She is the reason. And I think I can trust that I’m doing things for the right reason if I always know the reason for it is her. Not out of any ambition other than to honor and conjure her. She’s my conscience."

 

Bipolar Explorer's releases include Dream Together (2017), Electric Hymnal (2016), Angels (2015), their holiday album - BPXmas (2014),  Of Love and Loss (2012), the digital-only singles Watchers and Holy Ones (2017), We’ll All Go Together (2016) and Downtown Train (2015) and their earlier (pre-Summer) debut Go Negative. All titles are available on Slugg Records.

Michael Louis Serafin-Wells - Playwright

His writing praised by The New York Times as "LaBute territory with fresh angles and sustained tension", Michael is a winner of The London New Play Festival, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival resident playwright, two-time finalist for the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award, inaugural recipient of a First Light commission from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and finalist for the Verity Bargate Award at London’s Soho Theatre & Writers Centre. His plays have seen production, publication, workshops and readings in New York, London, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and elsewhere.

 

The first anthology of Michael's work, "Collected Plays", was released in print (Aug 2014) by indie publishers The Ginger Press. An e-book version is now also available via Amazon (for Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and iTunes (for iBooks).

 

Serafin-Wells made his professional debut in New York with Real Real Gone (published by Smith & Kraus), which The Star Ledger observed “heralds a new writer with an acute sense of language and a special ability to dramatize human behavior” and Variety pronounced as “the best of the bunch - far and away – with language that laces the natural poetics of the street with erudition”.

 

Other works include The “I” Word: Interns (Faber & Faber), about idealistic Clinton staffers, cited by Show Business as “ripe with political savvy” and The Village Voice for “handling the Beltway lingo with brains and Shavian brio!” as well as Detail, winner of The London New Play Festival and produced in a new version in New York in June 2006.

 

Currently at work on a memoir and a theatre-arts collaboration bringing his band (Bipolar Explorer)'s acclaimed double-record "Of Love and Loss" to the stage, Michael's latest full-length, My Before and After, was given a two-week workshop co-produced by Seattle's ACT Theatre and the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival.

 

In June 2011, his one-act, Two From The Line, saw production Off-Broadway at New York's Ensemble Studio Theatre as part of their Annual Marathon of One-Act Plays. Cited by The New York Times as "La Bute territory with fresh angles and sustained tension", it was also selected for publication by Smith & Kraus for their “Best Short Plays" anthology. In July 2010 Michael adapted this work for the screen overseeing casting, rehearsals and principal photography. And in February 2011 the film version of Two From The Line took Best Screenplay and Best Film honors at the 11th SC Independent Film Festival in San Francisco.

 

His play, District of Columbia, set in a cooperative house on the eve of the 1988 US Presidential election, was workshopped in March 2007 at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and given a subsequent developmental reading off-West End at The Finborough in November 2007 - both under the direction of Wilson Milam.

 

Another full-length, Seven Pages Unsigned - in development with San Francisco’s Magic Theatre under Artistic Director, Chris Smith, received a workshop in December 2007 as one of three plays selected for “New Voices West”, a program dedicated to new works from emerging American playwrights. The play saw its European premiere in May 2010 with a workshop reading directed by Wilson Milam at London's Finborough Theatre as part of their "Vibrant" festival, curated by Finborough Artistic Director Neil McPherson in celebration of the theatre's 30th anniversary. 

 

Several other works are currently in development. Serafin-Wells is a member of New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre (Founding Artistic Director- the late great Curt Dempster), The Dramatists Guild of America and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Michael Louis Serafin- Wells - Actor

Since the tragic passing of his love and partner, Summer Serafin, in 2011, Michael's acting appearances are now infrequent. A rare exception, however, found him on stage in New York, off-B'way in 2013 as Robert Hooke in the premiere of Lucas Hnath's "Issac's Eye" - his performance celebrated by The New York Times as "deliciously sly" and featured on both NPR's "Studio 360" and "Science Friday". And most recently (November 2015), creating the role of Mick in the World Premiere of Irish playwright Bryan Delaney's The Seedbed at New Jersey Repertory Theatre.

 

Previously, perhaps best known as an actor for his work as Clemens (3 seasons recurring) on NBC's "Law & Order", Michael has appeared extensively in film, television and on New York and regional stages. An NYU Graduate Acting Program MFA candidate and scholarship designee, just prior to his semi-retirement Michael was seen in Patrick Link's "Sweet Forgotten Flavor", staged by Youngblood Artistic Director RJ Tolan; off-Broadway as Trotsky in "Lenin's Embalmers" with Zack Grenier; and in "Two-Handers" directed by Tony-nominee Wilson Milam. Other personal favorites have included playing 6 roles in the World Premiere of Edna O’Brien’s "Tir Na nOg" at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, staged by Artistic Director Chris Smith and "Tilted House" directed by Mabou Mines Founder Lee Breuer, at New York’s Flea Theatre.

 

Indie films audiences may remember him as the lead in Fraser Bresnehan’s "Shut Yer Mouth!" and featured in Sam Henry Kass’s "The Search for One-Eyed Jimmy". Earlier in his career Off-Broadway, Michael appeared with Calista Flockhart and Liev Schreiber in Paul Weitz's "All For One", at the Manhattan Theatre Club in "Joined At The Head" (dir: Pamela Berlin) and as Wilbur Wright in Arthur Giron’s "Flight". Further New York credits include the role of Archie Landrum in the original NYC workshop of Mark Medoff's "The Homage That Follows" (with Kathleen Chalfant), Andrew in Bruce Paltrow & Tom Fontana's "1761" (with Marylouise Burke) and a brief stint in the recurring role of Reggie on ABC's daytime serial "Loving".

 

Among his regional credits are ten plays over four seasons with Washington, DC's Studio Theatre including his professional debut as Phil McCann in the US premiere of John Byrne's "The Slab Boys Trilogy" (Helen Hayes nominee, dir: Joy Zinoman).

 

Also an audiobook narrator, Michael has recorded over 30 titles to date, including several recently with Audible - Amazon's audiobook arm - among them the novel "The Captive Condition"; the wartime autobiography "The Court-Martial of Corporal Nutting: A Memoir of the Vietnam War"; and the extensive expose' examining psychosis and gun violence "Hearts of Darkness".