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Crafting "doom-drenched electric folk," Los Angeles' Chelsea Wolfe brings a foreboding feel to songs as disparate as "You Are My Sunshine" and album tracks by Norwegian black metal icon Burzum. Wolfe grew up in Northern California with a father who had a country band and his own home studio, so she was immersed in music at an early age and began recording herself at age nine; by the time she was in fourth grade, she knew she wanted to be a singer. However, it wasn't until 2009, when she returned from a three-month tour with a performance artist friend in spaces including old nuclear factories, that she began making music for others to hear. Wolfe recorded with her friends on a portable eight-track, the results of which became her 2010 debut album, The Grime and the Glow. Wolfe also contributed a radically different version of the Strokes' "The Modern Age" to a tribute to the band curated by Stereogum.com, and her song "Moses" was used to soundtrack artist/director Richard Phillips' short film Sasha Grey. After moving to L.A., Wolfe recorded her second album, Apokalypsis, in a proper studio, working with musicians including Ben Chisholm; it was released by Pendu Sound Recordings in August 2011. Wolfe took a few musicians, including Chisholm, into the Northern California woods to record Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, which was released in October 2012. Prayer for the Unborn, her contribution to Southern Records' Latitudes EP series, arrived a few weeks later. Nearly a year later, Wolfe returned with the more electronic-leaning Pain Is Beauty, which featured Chisholm as a co-producer as well as the work of longtime bandmembers Kevin Dockter and Dylan Fujioka.
Chelsea Wolfe is an American singer-songwriter from Sacramento, California, currently based in Los Angeles. She is known for her "specific brand of drone-metal-art-folk", characterized by experimental guitar playing, hazy vocals, and surreal soundscapes.
Wolfe debuted with her album The Grime and The Glow (2010), released on an independent label, Pendu Sound Recording, followed by Apokalypsis (2011), which gained her recognition from indie critics as well as an underground following. In 2012, Wolfe released Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs (2012), which featured a more folk-oriented sound as opposed to her earlier work, which had been heavily centered on droning guitars and distortion.
Wolfe's fourth studio album, Pain Is Beauty, was released September 3, 2013. An album trailer was released alongside this announcement, as well as a North American headlining tour in the fall. The song "Feral Love" was featured in the trailers for Game of Thrones season 4 and the television adaption of 12 Monkeys."Chelsea Wolfe on Taylor Guitars". Retrieved January 27, 2014. Emily Savage (July 20, 2011). "The Grime and The Glow: Doom Folk Liturgy, SF Weekly. 20 July 2011". Sfweekly.com. Retrieved 2012-02-07. "BAND CRUSH: CHELSEA WOLFE". Nylonmag.com. November 7, 2011. "The Grime & The Glow – Chelsea Wolfe". Chelsea Wolfe. December 28, 2010. "Ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalypsis/Apocalypse) – Chelsea Wolfe". Chelsea Wolfe. August 23, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-07. "Unknown Rooms on bandcamp". chelseawolfe.bandcamp.com. October 16, 2012. "Pain Is Beauty announcement on Wolfe's official Tumblr". June 3, 2013. "Pain is Beauty album trailer". June 3, 2013.
Chelsea Wolfe grew up in Sacramento, California. Her father was in a country band and had a home studio, where by the age of nine, she wrote and recorded songs which she describes as, "basically Casio-based gothy R&B songs.""Video interview with "Indie-eye network"". indie-eye.it/recensore. "Interview with "The Writing Disorder"". thewritingdisorder.com.
In 2006, Wolfe composed an album, titled Mistake in Parting, which she called "embarrassingly bad". The album went unreleased, and Wolfe took a hiatus from writing music for several years. Wolfe debuted her first two albums, The Grime and The Glow (2010) and Apokalypsis (2011) on Pendu Sound Recordings, a New York-based independent music label. Apokalypsis garnered Wolfe critical acclaim, receiving favorable reviews in Pitchfork and CMJ. Wolfe has said 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.
Wolfe toured extensively in North America and Europe to support both albums, and suffered from extreme stage fright, which she was able to overcome; when she initially began performing live, Wolfe would wear a black veil over her face. In 2012, Wolfe signed with Sargent House Records to release her third album. Wolfe's third album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs was released on October 16, 2012, and was stylistically varied from her previous two albums, which were based around electric guitar. The acoustic album "contains 'once-orphaned' songs", according to Wolfe. On July 28, 2012, the first single, "The Way We Used To," was revealed on NPR. On September 20, the second single, "Appalachia," was revealed on The Fader.
Wolfe's fourth studio album, Pain Is Beauty, was released in September 2013, with a North American tour to support the album. Wolfe also contributed guest vocals to the American post-metal band Russian Circles' fifth studio album Memorial released in October 2013. Russian Circles and Chelsea Wolfe toured Europe together in late 2013. On January 8, 2015 she announced via her Facebook page that the new album called Abyss is to be released in 2015."Interviews: Chelsea Wolfe". Subbacultcha: 19–22. April 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-19. Raposa, David (October 20, 2011). "Chelsea Wolfe: Apokalypsis". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2013-06-19. Patpatia, Sasha (August 25, 2011). "Chelsea Wolfe: Apokalypsis". CMJ. Retrieved 2013-06-19. Cite error: The named reference qa was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Chelsea Wolfe moves to Sargent House". chelseawolfe.net. February 27, 2012. "Tracks". pitchfork.com. September 20, 2012. "Song Premiere: Chelsea Wolfe, "The Way We Used To" : All Songs Considered Blog : NPR". NPR.com. July 28, 2012. "Stream: Chelsea Wolfe, "Appalachia" : MP3/STREAMS : THE FADER". thefader.com. July 28, 2012. Adams, Gregory (August 8, 2013). "Russian Circles Unveil 'Memorial,' Premiere New Track". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 14, 2013. Blistein, Jon (September 13, 2013). "Russian Circles Brood on Meditative 'Memorial' – Song Premiere". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved September 14, 2013. https://www.facebook.com/cchelseawwolfe/photos/a.372432345526.358190.25730125526/10155021118135527
Musical style and influences
Wolfe has cited 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, drone, black metal, gothic rock, folk and dark ambient in her music.
In regards to her vocals, 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 also cited the visual elements of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and photographer Nan Goldin as influences on her, as well as the writings of Ayn Rand and D.H. Lawrence.Crowe, Jessica (March 26, 2013). "Love Is What Remains: An Interview with Chelsea Wolfe". The Quietus. Retrieved 2013-06-20. Campbell, Karyn. "Q+A with Chelsea Wolfe (Issue No. 5)". Retrieved 2013-06-20. Martin, Erin Lyndal. "The Rumpus Interview with Chelsea Wolfe". Retrieved 2014-09-24.