With her new album Pain is Beauty, Chelsea Wolfe self-imposed the weighty task of rewriting the ending to the George Orwell’s classic 1984. Though many would beg to differ, Wolfe believed the book could stand to end on a more positive note.
“I reread 1984 and I was unhappy with it,” Wolfe told Radio.com. “I wrote a more idealistic ending to the book because I have a more idealistic outlook on life.”
Due to her darker sound, which can best be described as beautiful black metal, Wolfe has been pegged as a rather gloomy singer. But she says people, mainly critics, have gotten her all wrong. ”There’s two sides to me: I’m very much reality based and also really idealistic,” she explained. “I like to think that there’s a fight out there and we have to fight for the one that we love.”
“Who is more frightened: those bursting out of their darkness of woods upon all the space of light, or those from the open tiptoeing into the forests?” ponders D.H. Lawrence in his semi-autobiographical masterwork, Sons and Lovers. It’s a passage that American noir-tinged singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe is quick to attach to her track ‘Feral Love’: the opening salvo of her recently released fourth album, Pain is Beauty.
An album of contrasts, Pain is Beauty is by no means the dark and drab affair that the dourness of that quote might have you believe. Instead, it’s a record of contrasts that crackles with all the intensity of a bonfire on a crisp November night. Whether dabbling in more beat-driven electronica or piano-led elegies, what ties it together is the sort of mythic, grand storytelling you might expect to find in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.
In the midst of a tour with instrumental post-rock trio Russian Circles, we met Wolfe in the corner booth of a North London pub to discover the ways in which she first connected with music, the love of poetry that informed her passion for writing, and what she’d spin on her final night on Earth.
Watch Chelsea Wolfe performing acoustic versions of two of her new songs, ‘Lone’ and ‘House of Metal’ from the album Pain Is Beauty for La Blogotheque’s Take Away Shows in Paris.
Chelsea Wolfe will be performing on November 19th in Los Angeles at UCLA’s Royce Hall with special guest Anna Calvi. Get Info/Tix here
Chelsea Wolfe says that she doesn’t write about personal experiences in her music. She doesn’t like to put certain aspects of herself out there. All of that is well and good, but when you are a journalist trying to pry the deeper meanings behind her choices out of her, it can feel like pulling teeth. In person she is imposing in stature but withdrawn in her relationship to the media. She clearly doesn’t enjoy talking about herself – her answers often include the phrase “I won’t talk about…” – and really it’s a very endearing quality in a person. But the end result is that it is very hard to really know Chelsea Wolfe from a simple interview. On the other hand, obscuring herself has always been a key part of her image, and according to her, it’s something she’s been trying to change, at least in the physical sense. On the cover of her latest album, she stands with her face in a more natural and uncovered way than ever before.
For the past few months, Wolfe has been touring in support of her fourth and most heavily synthesised album yet, Pain Is Beauty, with the UK being her latest stop. She says that the European audiences are “harder to read” than those in her native America, where she is more accustomed to seeing fans sing along with her lyrics, indicating that they have listened to the new record. However, what I saw at her performance at Camden’s Electric Ballroom was an audience entranced, large and still. Whether or not they were singing along, from where I was standing it looked like the new material was having an impressive effect.
Photo by Darla Teagarden, wardrobe by Black Swan Theory & Bloodmilk, Austin, TX
From day one, CVLT Nation has been a fan of Chelsea Wolfe and we are super happy to share with you our first interview with her. Chelsea’s new album Pain Is Beauty is out now on Sargent House.
What was the recording process like for Pain is Beauty and how did the experience differentiate itself from prior recordings? Also, the album incorporates a stronger electronic element, bearing a different sound from what fans have come to expect. What powers and influences brought about this change?
CHELSEA WOLFE: I met my bandmate Ben Chisholm about four years ago, right around the time when I desired to bring some sort of electronic element into the band. He’s into analog synths and electronic beats and he’s really brilliant and multi-talented. Needless to say, he was a perfect fit. I found that we wrote songs together easily and we started messing around with some electronic songs that I originally thought we’d use for a side project…but I realized over time that I really didn’t want to put limits on this project, so we eventually started playing some of those songs live and I had a lot of fun with their energy. I knew they’d be the base for this new album.
Photo by Kristin Cofer
With each new album cover, you have obscured your features less and less. With Pain is Beauty you are front and center, wreathed in spotlight. How does this visual motif factor in with the album’s sound?
Chelsea Wolfe is currently on a co-headlining tour with label mates Russian Circles in Europe. Upon her return she will be playing a very special evening November 16th in Los Angeles with Anna Calvi at UCLA’s stunning Royce Hall. This will be an incredible evening of music. To get tickets and more info go HERE.
See ALL Chelsea Wolfe Show dates and Details
Taken from the print edition of Huck Magazine (September)
Chelsea Wolfe is on tour in Europe now see all dates.
Sargent House presents: Russian Circles & Chelsea Wolfe on tour together in Europe. Each band will be playing full length sets both in support of their new albums “Memorial" and "Pain Is Beauty”. Above is a video of the silk screen poster process of the making of their European tour posters (available in limited numbers on tour only). Designed by Error Design with music by Russian Circles featuring Chelsea Wolfe on vocals from the album’s title track “Memorial”.
See All CHELSEA WOLFE SHOW DETAILS HERE
RUSSIAN CIRCLES, CHELSEA WOLFE — EU 2013 TOUR
Oct 12, 2013 — Prague, CZ @ Meet Factory
Oct 13, 2013 — Linz, AT @ Posthof
Oct 14, 2013 — Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv Club
Oct 15, 2013 — Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik
Oct 16, 2013 — Fribourg, CH @ Fri-son
Oct 18, 2013 — Barcelona, ES @ Apolo
Oct 19, 2013 — Madrid, ES @ Shoko Live
Oct 20, 2013 — Porto, PT @ Amplifest
Oct 21, 2013 — Bilbao, ES @ Kafe Antzokia
Oct 23, 2013 — Paris, FR @ Divan Du Monde
Oct 24, 2013 — Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
Oct 25, 2013 — Manchester, UK @ Gorilla
Oct 26, 2013 — Glasgow, UK @ SWG3
Oct 27, 2013 — Dublin, IRE @ Button Factory
Oct 29, 2013 — London, UK @ Electric Ballroom
Oct 30, 2013 — Gent, BE @ Vooruit
Oct 31, 2013 — Karlsruhe, DE @ Jubez
Nov 1, 2013 — Utrecht, NI @ Tivoli de Helling
Nov 2, 2013 — Koln, DE @ Stollwerck
Nov 3, 2013 — Hamburg, DE @ Club Logo
Nov 5, 2013 - Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Strand
Nov 6, 2013 — Helsinki, FIN @ Tavastia
Nov 7, 2013 — Oslo, NO @ Bla
Nov 8, 2013 — Gothenburg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
Nov 9, 2013 — Copenhagen, DK @ KB18
Nov 10, 2013 — Berlin, DE @ C- Club
Chelsea Wolfe graces the cover of the October issue 261 of Rumore Magazine in Italy where she will be playing as part of her upcoming European tour with label mates Russian Circles - both bands will play full length headline sets with no opening bands for their run together in Europe.
SEE ALL CHELSEA WOLFE TOUR DETAILS HERE