I was alone in my studio with a glass of Sangria and smoking out my 4th floor window the first time I ever heard Chelsea Wolfe. My friend texted me about this new girl and demanded that I check her out, because it’s something “I’d be really into”; well, she was certainly right. In that moment, the dark and almost metal undertones that accompanied her incredible voice was so entrancing that everything else just faded away- I was hooked.
Fast forward two years and I’m at the Doug Fir here in Portland to see her play live. Perched at the base of the stage, I was overwhelmed when her band started to play. There was a long intro that set the mood; it almost felt like being on an african plain, and then there she was in all her sheer caftan glory. Hearing Chelsea’s music live is an experience- it’s like being cocooned inside a dream that’s come to life and all you can do is let in sink in. Immediately after, I emailed her for an interview-
NAME: Chelsea Wolfe
GUILTY PLEASURE: Being a loner.
Your music is so unique- when I try to describe it to someone else, the only thing I can say is that you just have to hear it for yourself. So I’m super curious, what do you listen to in your personal life? Favorite bands or artists?
I’ll get stuck on an album for a few months at a time. Once it was William Basinki The Disintegration Loops, then Erik Satie, then Johnny Cash or Black Sabbath. Lately it’s the new Wardruna album Yggdrasil.
How do you prep before a big show?
I like tours over one-off shows because you know that you’re getting into something for a period of time and you have to prepare and create some sort of mental aesthetic for the shows as a group. Once you get there to the venue it’s mostly about making sure the mood is right and that you feel good and strong before you get onstage.
Describe your personal style? What’s one thing you can never leave home without?
When I’m at home just working in the studio or around town I stick to a sort of utilitarian uniform: black jeans, black boots, black tank top and some hideous work-coat, leather jacket or flannel, and I always wear my Actual Pain Ouroboros necklace. On tour I indulge my fashion reveries and run around wearing fetish shop spike chokers with faux fur and 6-inch Ann Demeulemeester heels. It makes life on the road a little more fun when you dress up. I always bring my Acne Pistol boots on tour and I like to have a big coat with me that usually doubles as a blanket or pillow on long van rides. I love shoes and always end up bringing way too many pairs on tour.
Who are your favorite designers/ labels?
Ann Demeulemeester, Margiela, Ann-Sofie Back, Rodarte, Nicolas Andreas Taralis, Helmut Lang, Iris Van Herpen, Ovate, Sisters of the Black Moon, K/LLER Collection, myYUKIKO and Bloodmilk jewelry, Kill City, and I love all the collections Chloe Sevigny’s done for Opening Ceremony. My stylist Jenni Hensler also has made some amazing stuff for me; she made my outfit for the U.S. tour I just did – a silk black wrap dress with black leather obi belt and a white cape that captured light onstage in this really magical way. She’s a wizardess.
The editorial you did with SOTBM was incredible- how did it feel to be in front of the camera rather than behind a mic?
The photographer for that shoot (Kristin Cofer) is a friend of mine who I’ve worked with for many years so I’ve been able to become comfortable in front of the camera with her. I like the idea of working with the same person over and over and transforming together. Kristin took me to the Russian River and Bodega Bay in Northern California to shoot, which were spots I visited a lot as a kid so it was really special for these photos.
You’re about to embark on your European tour- is there anything you’re particularly excited to do over there (besides all the amazing shows, of course!)?
I always look forward to getting to see my good friend, photographer Virginie Khateeb, who lives in Paris. This time we’re going to visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery together.