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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, 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.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.
Chelsea Wolfe grew up in Sacramento, California. 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.""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 was never officially released, and Wolfe took a hiatus from writing music for several years. 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 was able to overcome; when she initially began performing live, Wolfe would wear a black veil over her face.
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.
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 revealed 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 season 4 of Game of Thrones 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.
On January 8, 2015, she announced via her Facebook page that her fifth album, Abyss, would be released in 2015. On April 28, the released the single "Iron Moon" and confirmed the album's release date as August 7."Interviews: Chelsea Wolfe". Subbacultcha: 19–22. April 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-19. http://www.discogs.com/Chelsea-Wolfe-Tour-2009/release/3641208 http://www.discogs.com/Chelsea-Wolfe-Soundtrack-VHSGold/release/3641232 http://www.discogs.com/Chelsea-Wolfe-Soundtrack-VHS-II/release/5576654 "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. 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. http://www.cvltnation.com/chelsea-wolfe-a-tribute-to-rudimentary-penidownload/ http://www.chelseawolfe.net/category/rudimentary-peni/ "Chelsea Wolfe – Prayer for the Unborn [Vinyl]". shop.southern.com. September 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-26. "Chelsea Wolfe moves to Sargent House". chelseawolfe.net. February 27, 2012. "Unknown Rooms on bandcamp". chelseawolfe.bandcamp.com. October 16, 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. http://www.discogs.com/Chelsea-Wolfe-Live-At-Roadburn/release/3865279 "CHELSEA WOLFE Live at Roadburn LP pre-sale started. Artwork revealed!". roadburnrecords.com. August 15, 2012. "Pain Is Beauty announcement on Wolfe's official Tumblr". June 3, 2013. "Pain is Beauty album trailer". June 3, 2013. http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/16629-chelsea-wolfe-king-dude-be-free/ 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. http://www.chelseawolfe.net/terrorizer-film-review-chelsea-wolfes-lone-directed-by-mark-pellington/ https://www.facebook.com/cchelseawwolfe/photos/a.372432345526.358190.25730125526/10155021118135527 http://www.rollingstone.com/music/premieres/chelsea-wolfe-details-new-album-streams-haunting-first-single-iron-moon-20150428
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."Chelsea Wolfe on Taylor Guitars". Retrieved January 27, 2014. Cite error: The named reference qa was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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.