Chelsea Wolfe

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Terrorizer Interview: Chelsea Wolfe


The inimitable Chelsea Wolfe has just finished her recent US tour, so this seemed like the perfect time for Terrorizer to catch up with her. We sent Joy Shannon to quiz Chelsea on her creative process, overcoming stagefright, her collaboration with King Dude and what we can expect from her new film, ‘Lone’…

An absolute hush goes over the crowd when Chelsea Wolfe stands on stage. Her presence is otherworldly and when she sings, it seems as if even the ghosts in the rafters of the old theatre stop and listen.

Terrorizer caught Wolfe on her last US tour date in Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theatre opening for the Eels, right before she embarked on a Canadian and European tour. This was a unique tour for Wolfe, which she crafted to be a stripped-down acoustic experience, accompanied only with by her co-producer Ben Chisholm & violinist and backing vocalist Andrea Calderon. The trio created devastatingly gorgeous melodies and vocal harmonies, which didn’t shy away from moments of bold, bleak minimalism. Much of the set was played on a very darkly lit stage, transforming the spiralling Baroque architecture of LA’s Orpheum Theatre into a shadowed cave, out of which Wolfe’s voice howled.

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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 In person she is imposing in stature but withdrawn in her relationship to the media.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.

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1015282 10152930503980527 246633133 o 585x585 Interview: Chelsea Wolfe on Pain Is Beauty

I have to say, I find it very fitting that it’s been sunny in Chicago all week and as soon as I stepped outside to call you, a thunderstorm broke and the sky went grey.
Oh really? That’s cool, that happened in New York as well. As soon as we sat down for this rooftop interview the thunder started and the clouds came in. I don’t mind it; I love it. I’m pretty sick of the sun.

Is Chelsea Wolfe your real name?
Yeah, it’s my name. It started out as a solo project and when I formed it into a band, for awhile I thought about changing the name but I still do solo stuff sometimes and I wanted to be flexible so I left it as my name.

It seems so ironic, there’s a clear dichotomy that reflects the music with ‘Chelsea’ being so feminine and ‘Wolfe’ being so dark and ferocious.
Yeah that’s true, I never really thought about it that way actually. That’s a good way to put it.

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Chelsea Wolfe has been a long time coming. Over the past four years, the Sacramento songstress has been staggeringly prolific, but it was with last year’s Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs that she first left her indelible mark. Now, with the release of her fourth LP, Pain Is Beauty, Wolfe has further refined her sound, stripping it of its most abrasive qualities and further exposing the bruised, gnarled heart at its centre.

Wolfe’s progress from shy ingenue distorting her work to a songwriter with a cryptic depth of feeling and emotional command has been gradual but concurrent with her own battle with public introversion. The Pain Is Beauty sleeve, for instance, “represents an intense discomfort with being in the spotlight but also fighting to overcome that,” according to Wolfe.

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When Chelsea Wolfe is giving it all that she’s got, as on big, string-laden anthems like “House of Metal” and “The Waves Have Come,” it’s like her voice also contains something of a whisper within it, a tinge of breathy spaciousness that feels somehow kinesthetically continuous with the wide open, natural vistas that she’s singing about. Her voice is less the human focal point of her new album, Pain Is Beauty, though, than the LP’s instrumental center, the defining atmospheric element in a churning pool of moods and melodies that seems to always be on the verge of drowning in its own romantic oblivion—until it suddenly throws you for a new turn, that is. I spoke to Wolfe about her departure from the acoustic arrangements of her last full-length effort, Unknown Rooms, and why pain can be beautiful sometimes. The album is out now via Sargent House.

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The FLY Interview with Chelsea Wolfe

Los Angeles musician Chelsea Wolfe has been steadily accruing dedicated fans across the globe since the release of her debut album ‘The Grime And The Glow’ in 2010, her goth-tinged coalescence of doomy sludge and delicate acoustics providing the perfect platform for her eerie vocals. At nearly six feet tall and with alabaster skin, Wolfe is often draped in abstract black attire; her early concerts and photographs showing the camera-shy musician obscured by veils, hoods and tendrils of black hair. Recently returned from a gruelling European and Russian tour with her band, Wolfe spoke with us about her new album Pain Is Beauty, a surprising affair incorporating hard electronic beats and synth-y flourishes that nonetheless retains its author’s spooky atmosphere and haunting vocals. It’s a bold step in some respects – she’s a cult figure amongst her fans, so how will they feel about this new, glossy direction?

Hello Chelsea! You’ve only been back from your huge European and Russian tour for a few weeks. You must be exhausted.

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Interview and live review of Chelsea Wolfe - Antwerp May 6, 2013


On May 6th, Chelsea Wolfe played a fantastic concert at the Trix in Antwerp. Before the concert, Phil Blackmarquis had the opportunity to meet Chelsea for an exclusive interview, done together with Michael Thiel, aka Weyrd Son, founder of Weyrd Son Records and a huge fan of the American singer/songwriter.
(Check the review of the concert here.)

PhB: Thank you very much for this interview. You are in the middle of your European Tour right now. How is it?
It’s been cool. It’s been different than usual because we’re doing a half acoustic, half electric set, so it’s been a little wierd sometimes to balance the energies of the two different sets. But it works out well.

PhB: Why did you decide to split the concerts in two sets?
We had the new(ish) acoustic album that had come out in October, so we incorporated a fair amount of it in the set but without doing an entire acoustic show, just to challenge the ‘old’ songs with something new… And we split the show in two sets…

PhB: In the US, I think it was only acoustic?
Yes, it was a suggestion from some of the venues that we’d do an acoustic and an electric set and it kind of worked out, so…

WS: Is your acoustic album, “Unknown Rooms” a sort of bridge for you between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Chelsea Wolfe, especially since you changed label?
I think so. My label had asked me if I wanted to do an acoustic album because I had so many old acoustic songs. People were asking me when I was going to release songs like ‘Flatlands’, which I had done years ago but hadn’t released yet. So, when the idea came up and I started compiling these old recordings, I decided to do some new ones as well. At the same time, I wanted to get away from the imagery of my former label, Pendu.

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LA CANVAS Magazine Interview: Whose Afraid of Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe's interview with LA Canvas is out in hard copy or can be seen in full online HERE pages 31 + 32.

VICE Noisey Interview: Coffee, Pie and Death with Chelsea Wolfe



Does the queen of darkness take her coffee black? How does it feel being the dream woman of metalheads and goths alike? These are the questions I ask myself regularly about Chelsea Wolfe, the Northern California singer whose ghoulish melodies are as uncanny and dread-inducing as the veil she occasionally wears while performing.

Wolfe’s dusky melodies inevitably resonate with a sense of apocalyptic doom, but are still rooted in the strums of country ballads that win over our blackened hearts time and time again. Currently she’s touring to support the release of her latest, a collection of sparse acoustic tracks entitled Unknown Rooms.

Over ‘50s surf rock tunes on the radio and a delightful slice of quiche at DC’s most darling pie shop, Dangerously Delicious, I had a delightful conversation with Chelsea about tour tats, haunted houses, the mystique of death and driving an ex-prison van around the country.

Thanks for trekking out here on your day off from tour to eat pie with me.
No problem. I got to sleep in late, then I think we’re going to try and find somewhere to go and spend the day. I was actually looking for a tattoo parlor.

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Conversations with Bianca (Australia) An Interview with Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe: “I am interested in revealing the beauty in the darkness of things…”

American singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Chelsea Wolfe is one of the most intriguing and interesting artists I’ve came across in sometime. Her haunting, brooding and at times beautifully challenging songs are a breath of fresh air. November sees Wolfe touring on Australian shores for the very first time! (thanks to Heathen Skulls). She is also set to release her emotive, captivating album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection Of Acoustic Songs on October 16. Here Chelsea gives insight into the release, song writing, her experience with hyperosmia and her adoration of the natural world.

When did you first become aware of music?
CHELSEA WOLFE: I was very young…my father was in a country band while I was growing up. My parents were divorced and I mostly stayed with my mom or grandmother but the influence of my dad’s musical life and home studio had an impact on me.

Who or what inspired you to start making music yourself?
CW: I started experimenting with recording around age nine. I don’t really know how I discovered that I could do it because it wasn’t pushed on me at all, but I just started writing songs and never really stopped.

Why is music important to you?
CW: It’s something that’s instinctual for me—it’s the only thing that makes me feel like a normal human being.

You’ve recently released Unknown Rooms as a collection of songs rather than an actual next album; what process did you go through when choosing songs to include on the release?
CW: The idea came up when I started working with Sargent House. Cathy Pellow suggested I put together an album of all the old orphan acoustic songs of mine that were just floating around the internet. In the process of collecting those recordings together I ended up writing new songs along with new recordings of the older songs. The timeline of the songs spans a good four or five years so that’s why I decided to release it as a collection rather than a conceptual album. It comes out October 16th.

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Steel For Brains: This Menacing Melody - An Interview with Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe
is an indefinable force in the music world.  Critics and writers and fans alike have tried their best to place her in some genre, but the art and artist seem to transcend those barriers - much like the other musicians Steel for Brains has interviewed.  Concerning so many things like the DIY movement as well as the resistance to be labeled, here’s what Chelsea had to say:

The first question I have has to do with your approach to music in general – as it ties into the DIY movement.  I know a lot of people throw that term around today as a kind of catch-all, but where do you see yourself in that spectrum as an artist? 

CW: I don’t really consider DIY.  I’ve just always done things my own way without labeling it as anything, so I guess if someone considers me “DIY” I guess I am, because I do a lot of things in my own way as I want to do them, but I’m also at a point where I have the support of a great label.  I don’t really know what DIY is anymore.

When I hear a Chelsea Wolfe track, the thing I find is that you can’t compartmentalize it, and I’m wondering what your process is when you go into the studio to write a song or create this piece of art, what’s your guideline, as it were.

 CW: It kind of ties in with the first question.  Thinking about it more, in a sense, I have to have my hands in everything that happens with this band.  I’m not the kind of artist who’ll let someone else take over for me or take artistic direction of my project.  To me it’s like “my art,” as cheesy as that sounds, so it’s important for me to have a hand in every aspect of it – every step of the way.  During recording it’s really hard for me to let go and let someone else step in and take over, and I think that’s why my impulse is to have a hand in everything – and sometimes those things are out of your control.  Sometimes people assume in interviews, and things with the press, and with music videos, that those things are reflecting the artist, but sometimes the artist doesn’t have control over those things – you just kind of have to hope for the best.  I guess I just try to make sure it’s me and what I represent that’s being seen. 

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Redefine Magazine’s Chelsea Wolfe Interview: Shedding Natural Light On Visions Of Doom

If you even remotely keep tabs on the news cycle these days, it’s easy to get bogged down in horrifically menacing thoughts of the world falling apart at the seams. The American military industrial complex has nearly doubled in size over the last decade, and it was already a ridiculously bloated frivolity. We continue to rape the environment for our own selfish expansionary agenda of warped materialism, with little respite in sight. There are no spiritual leaders of any real consequence despite the obvious need. The stupidest people with the least resources continue to have the most children, and their billionaire overseers encourage them to take great pride in their own shameless ignorance. And each time I think I’ve seen the lamest lowest common denominator pop culture moment possible, all I have to do is wait five minutes and something else will creep up knocking my faith in humanity down a few more pegs. It can get worse than Jersey Shore, and does.

What to do, then, with all this bleakness constantly lurking in the outskirts of our collective unconscious?

A true mystic can take even the darkest of human plotlines and shine the impenetrable light of our higher spiritual destiny on them, illuminating the hidden beauty in the seemingly most hopeless of scenarios. Which is where an artist like Chelsea Wolfe excels. She manages to take the unrelenting horror of her apocalyptic dreams and effectively channels it towards transcendent catharsis. I caught up with the enchanting Miss Wolfe recently by e-mail to chat about how exactly she pulls this off so effectively as well as her admiration of Ayn Rand, amongst other things. Read on, true believers.

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SMUG Interview with Chelsea Wolfe (Norwegian)

Intervju | Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe er muligens Verdens største, beste og flinkeste moderne og alternativ-elektronisk folkepopindierock-artist fra California, og på Europa-turnéen har hun kommet innom Oslo. Vi møttes i anledningen ved venue for en prat med Chelsea Wolfe i like mørke klær som hennes egne øyenskygge, som hennes egne hår og som den mørkeste natt.

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So I saw Chelsea Wolfe live the other day and after their impressive performance, I was fortunate enough to have a word with the charismatic musician. We discussed her excellent last album, some upcoming plans, Rudimentary Peni, black metal and more.

NC: Those recent Rudimentary Peni covers, they aren’t actual covers, right?
CW: It was more like, I used their lyrics without having listened to some of the songs. I just did my own interpretations of them rather than covering their actual music. I did a one off recording of that and then we actually went into a studio in London a few days ago and did a proper recording that will be released on vinyl this year, so that’s pretty exciting.

NC: So how did you come up with the idea of doing those “covers” if you weren’t actually listening to the songs?
CW: A roommate of mine was listening to their record, but he only had one record so I could only hear the songs that were on there. And it’s really hard to find online actually. And, like, I don’t have a lot of money to go spend on old records so I just kind of found lyrics online and worked with that.

NC: Water Borders’ remix of ‘Mer’ is awesome. Do you any some new remixes coming up? How did that one come about?
CW: I love Water Borders! I’m not really a big fan of remixes in general, I don’t get excited about them or anything. It’s usually like, if someone that I like comes along and wants to do one or if it just happens, I’m okay with that. But I don’t seek out people to remix my music or anything, you know.

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LADYGUNN Magazine: Chelsea Wolfe Interview

Chelsea Wolfe, the witchy goth music princess is quickly rising to success with her second album Apokalypsis, and a current European tour. Though she stands out as unique on her own, she’s often categorized into the same genre that includes complimentary comparisons to Zola Jesus, Grimes, and Lykke Li. She has the natural formula to be as successful, as she is convincingly dark and majestic with her classical sounding voice and solemn melodic music. She embodies mournful intelligence and beautiful darkness, including her lyrics that can stand alone as poetry.

Who has inspired you musically, over the years?

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