September 05, 2012 3:29 PM

The young California native, who currently calls Los Angeles home, said she knew she wanted to be a musician all her life and begun self-teaching at the age of nine.

Though she describes herself as a “musical outcast,” finding it difficult to confine herself to any one music genre, Chelsea Wolfe’s music has been described as everything from “doom-folk” to “drone-metal-art-folk” to “gloomy Portishead-meets-Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.” 

Wolfe has released two proper albums, with her third Unknown Rooms: A Collection Of Acoustic Songs coming out in October. TWELV was lucky enough to snag an interview with the up-and-coming artist about the album, designers, tattoos and Marilyn Manson.


TWELV: What inspired the shift in sound from Apokalypsis to Unknown Rooms?

Chelsea Wolfe: I recorded Apokalypsis a year before it was actually released, so it's been a long time. It was recorded in 2010, released in 2011 and it's now mid-2012. I'm always exploring new sounds, new ways of using words and my voice. I started working with (label/management company) Sargent House earlier this year, and they suggested I release an album of all the sort of "orphan" acoustic songs of mine that were floating around YouTube, etc. In the process of collecting those old recordings together, I ended up writing a lot of new acoustic songs and decided to do new recordings of the old songs and combine them together with the new songs.

What is Unknown Rooms about to you?

Since the songs span so many years - songs written years ago and songs written just months ago - I decided to release it as a collection of songs rather than a conceptual album. Unknown Rooms as an idea is something in dream interpretation; something undefined that hints to your afterlife; spaces you create with what you have around you.

I wanted to go back to my roots; I started out making folk music at a young age and grew up with a father in a country band. As much as I love playing rock n roll music, there is also a desire in me to do something more intimate and restrained, or refrained. I love old country like Hank Williams, and artists like Townes van Zandt and Neil Young have really inspired me over the years, so I'm probably subconsciously channeling them. I was really happy to work with some great players on this album as well; my bandmate Ben Chisholm recorded it and played on it as well as Ezra Buchla (viola), Andrea Calderon (violin), and Daniel Denton (bass). My dad even played slide guitar on one song. 

Did your dad teach you how to play your instruments? 

I learned on my own, but he did pass down a great Guild acoustic guitar to me as well as some cool guitar pedals over the years. 

Any ideas or plans for upcoming music videos for the album?

I have so many music video ideas. I adore the visual medium when it's controlled and well thought-out. Live performance is tough for me at times but making photos or videos is a dream. I hope to find the budgets and like-minded artists in the form of music video directors that I can make some beautiful visions with.

In a dream scenario, who would make your next music video? 

I am looking forward to working with my talented friend Charlene Bagcal, she's taken a lot of my photos over the past couple years, and also I hope to work with Australian director Emma Freeman. We might film in Australia this November while I'm there for tour. It would be a dream to work with Floria Sigismondi someday.

I read that you are a fan of Marilyn Manson's “Beautiful People” video. I am a huge Manson-phile, were you a big Manson fan growing up?

Marilyn Manson is someone I discovered later in life. I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin. Lindsey Buckingham's voice was one of my earliest inspirations. Also I used to be in a band with a great drummer named Jess Gowrie, and she introduced me to some of my now favorite music: Marilyn Manson, NIN, Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age. My tattoo artist Cris Cleen did the rest of the work in that area, introducing me to Tom Waits and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds among other greats. 

Tell me about getting your Sylvia Plath tattoo. What made you choose the particular lines of "Widow," 'Death is the dress she wears'?

An old friend gave me the Sylvia Plath poetry collection "Crossing the Water" before I left for my first tour. While I'd always been into Sylvia Plath, the poems in that book struck a particular chord at the time in my life. I've always felt this infatuation with some sort of spirit. It could be called death. 

Are there any other quotes that resonate with you?

From Jitterbug Perfume, one of my favorite books, "The Ultimate answers cannot be given, they can only be received." 

So, what is on the horizon for you after the release of your new album?

My bandmates and I just recorded our next full-band album and will work on mixing it after we get home from this tour we're on currently. It's got some electronic songs on it that I've been working on with Ben for a few years now. It's all about finding the right home and time for certain songs. Music doesn't always happen in order. It’s more about finding the right moment for it.

Hear Chelsea Wolfe
See the rest of the Interview here

Interviewed by Tiffany Tso



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