Chelsea Wolfe, May 2015
November 14, 1983 |
Roseville, California, U.S.
|Taylor Guitars 716ce
Chelsea Joy Wolfe (born November 14, 1983) is an American singer-songwriter. Her mix of styles, incorporating elements of gothic and folk music, earned her underground acclaim with her first two albums, The Grime and the Glow (2010) and Apokalypsis (2011).
On her following albums, Pain Is Beauty (2013) and Abyss (2015), Wolfe incorporated elements of neofolk, electronic and metal. Wolfe's music is characterized by its experimental guitar playing, hazy vocals and surreal soundscapes.
Chelsea Wolfe was born in Roseville, California, and grew up in Sacramento. Her father was in a country band and had a home studio, where by the age of 9, she had written and recorded songs which she later described as "basically Casio-based gothy R&B songs".
2005–2011: Early releases
In 2006, Wolfe composed an album, titled Mistake in Parting, which was never officially released. Of the album, Wolfe said: "I was 21 years old and wrote a shitty singer-songwriter breakup album. I didn’t even really want to be a musician back then, but a lot of my friends were like 'let’s do this, I’ve got some producer friends' and they helped me make this over-produced, terrible record... I sort of took a break from music for a while since I wasn’t happy with what I was making".
She sold a CDR EP at live shows, titled Tour 2009. Another CDR, the full-length Soundtrack VHS/Gold, was issued in 2010 by Jeune Été Records as a limited edition of 30 copies. Remixed versions of the latter material were also briefly issued on Wolfe's Bandcamp page under the title Soundtrack VHS II.
Wolfe officially debuted with her album The Grime and the Glow (2010), released on Pendu Sound Recordings, a New York-based independent music label. Her second album, Apokalypsis (2011), stylized as Ἀποκάλυψις, gained her an underground following, as well as critical acclaim, receiving favorable reviews in Pitchfork and CMJ.
Wolfe toured extensively in North America and Europe to support both albums, and suffered from extreme stage fright, which she eventually overcame; when she initially began performing live, Wolfe would wear a black veil over her face. Wolfe said, "Performing was something that I had to learn. I could barely handle being onstage for the first few years, and it's the reason it took me so long to start my career as a musician".
In 2012, Wolfe covered five songs by British anarcho-punk band Rudimentary Peni, and issued them as A Tribute To Rudimentary Peni on February 17 as a free download via Pendu Sound. She later rerecorded the Peni songs with her band at Southern Studios in London, and released them as an EP, Prayer for the Unborn, in January 2013 on Southern Records.
2012-present: Sargent House
Wolfe signed with Sargent House Records in 2012 to release her third album. Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs was released on October 16, 2012, and featured a more folk-oriented sound, as opposed to her earlier work, which had been heavily centered on droning electric guitars and distortion. The acoustic album contained "'once-orphaned' songs", according to Wolfe. On July 28, 2012, the first single, "The Way We Used To", was premiered on NPR. On September 20, the second single, "Appalachia," was premiered on The Fader
Wolfe released a live album, Live at Roadburn, on September 28, 2012, recorded that April 12 at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. Wolfe's fourth studio album, Pain Is Beauty, was released September 3, 2013, as well as an album trailer, followed by a supporting North American tour. During 2013 and 2014, Wolfe released two split 7" singles with King Dude, Sing Songs Together... and Sing More Songs Together...
Wolfe also contributed guest vocals to the American post-metal band Russian Circles' fifth studio album, Memorial, released in October 2013. Wolfe and Russian Circles toured Europe together in late 2013.
In 2014, her song "Feral Love" was featured in the trailers for Game of Thrones season four and the television adaption of 12 Monkeys. She also released a long-form film, Lone, featuring music from Pain Is Beauty and directed by Mark Pellington.
"Carrion Flowers", "Iron Moon" and "After the Fall" were released as the second, third and the fourth singles, respectively, from her fifth album, Abyss. "Carrion Flowers" appeared in the trailer for The Walking Dead spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead, the Far Cry Primal trailer "Beast Master" and TV ads for Life Below Zero.
Wolfe is known for playing a Taylor Guitars 716ce and a Fender Jaguar. She has said that she composed her first two albums on her mother's classical guitar, which was missing a tuning peg; as a result, the strings had to be tuned down, which was a stylistic element carried on to the studio recordings.
Musical style and influences
Wolfe has mentioned an array of artists and specific genres as influences, including black metal and Scandinavian folk music, but has said: "I do have a hard time sticking to one genre, and honestly I prefer it that way. I'd rather be free to experiment and make the kind of art I want to make than be easy to define." Various critics have noted elements of doom metal, drone metal, black metal, gothic rock, folk and dark ambient in her music. Wolfe has said: "I think deep down I wish I had one of those really gritty voices like Kurt Cobain, so maybe I'm making up for it with distorted guitars."
Wolfe has expressed a strong affinity for R&B music, citing Aaliyah as a huge influence on her career since her childhood. She said, "I grew up listening to my dad playing guitar while singing harmonies... As a kid I wanted to record my own songs so he set me up with an 8-track. The vibe of those earliest songs was like, Aaliyah meets Fleetwood Mac – what I was listening to mixed with what my parents were listening to. "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" was my favorite song back then."
Other musical influences include Vladimir Vysotsky, Selda Bagcan, Nick Cave, Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt. Her most recent musical influences are Suicide, SPK, Burzum and various "1920s and '30s music".
Wolfe has cited the visual elements of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and photographer Nan Goldin as influences, as well as the writings of D.H. Lawrence and Ayn Rand. However, on September 24, 2015, she stated that with regard to her supposed affinity with Rand: "When I said I liked Ayn Rand many years ago I didn't know anything about what she stood for or what her books meant. I recant!". Other writers she has mentioned as inspirations include Marcel Proust, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Sylvia Plath.
- Mistake in Parting (2006, unreleased)
- Soundtrack VHS/Gold (2010, Jeune Été Records)
- Soundtrack VHS II (2010, self-released)
- The Grime and the Glow (2010, Pendu Sound Recordings)
- Apokalypsis (2011, Pendu Sound Recordings)
- Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs (2012, Sargent House)
- Pain Is Beauty (2013, Sargent House)
- Abyss (2015, Sargent House)
Singles and EPs
- Tour 2009 EP (2009, self-released)
- "Advice & Vices" digital single (2010, Pendu Sound Recordings)
- A Tribute to Rudimentary Peni EP (2012, Pendu Sound Recordings)
- Prayer for the Unborn EP (2013, Southern Records)
- Sing Songs Together... split 7" single with King Dude (2013, Sargent House)
- Sing More Songs Together... split 7" single with King Dude (2014, Not Just Religious Music)
- "The Warden (Maceo Plex Remix)" digital single (2014, Ellum Audio)
- Chelsea Wolfe Folkadelphia Session 5/31/2014 digital EP (2014, Folkadelphia)
- "Iron Moon" digital single (2015, Sargent House)
- "Carrion Flowers" digital single (2015, Sargent House)
- "After the Fall" digital single (2015, Sargent House)
- "Hypnos" 7" single (2016, Sargent House)
- Live at Roadburn (2012, Roadburn Records)
- Chelsea Wolfe – vocals, guitar
- Ben Chisholm – synth, bass, piano
- Aurielle Zeitler – lead guitar
- Dylan Fujioka – drums
- Andrea Calderon – violin
- Ezra Buchla – viola
|"The Whys"||Jason Rudy|
|2014||"Feral Love"||Mark Pellington|
|2014||"The Waves Have Come"||Mark Pellington|
|2015||"Carrion Flowers"||Ben Chisholm|
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- "CHELSEA WOLFE on Twitter: "FYI when I said I liked Ayn Rand many years ago I didn't know anything about what she stood for or what her books meant. I recant!"". Twitter. September 24, 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
- "Chelsea Wolfe". facebook.com. August 26, 2012.
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