In reference to Smoke the Fuzz Fest 2017 – Descent Edition and American Chelsea Wolfe’s performance for the first time in our country in Athens, at Piraeus 117 Academy, at April the 28th with our own Skull & Dawn, we discussed with Chelsea about the record industry’s misogynist tendencies, art in general and her wide acceptance by the people which is constantly growing wider the last few years, among other topics. For more, dig in…
Hello Chelsea and welcome to Metal Invader! It’s the first time for you in Greece, if I’m not mistaken and I dare to say that you are much anticipated here. How do you feel about coming to Athens?
CW: It’s always exciting to perform in new places, but I am especially excited about coming to Greece.
In 2015 you created the much acclaimed “Abyss” which you toured extensively and it was followed by 2016’s 7” “Hypnos”. “Abyss” is one of my favorite releases of yours because you are reaching heavier frequencies than you used to while maintaining the folk essence that makes you unique. I feel that in “Hypnos” you’re returning more to that folk vibe. Noticing that course, I’m wondering where your recording plans are headed to.
CW: The “Hypnos” 7” consisted of two songs that I recorded during the “Abyss” sessions but that I didn’t feel fit onto the record in the end, so I saved them for their own separate release. I can’t always explain why a group of songs fits together, but I can feel it. I just finished recording a new album and it is heavy in a more raw, live way. I’m playing with a new drummer, Jess Gowrie. Jess and I had a rock band together almost 10 years ago now and recently reunited. Her and Ben Chisholm (bass, keys) and I had jam sessions together to write most of this new album, so it’s very guitar-heavy and drum-heavy.
You’ve been in Sargent House since 2011. They’re most definitely a label that puts out very special music. How does it feel to be part of the family? Will your next record be with them as well?
CW: They’re a very supportive label and I feel very comfortable there. I can follow my own vision and not be questioned or misguided. My next record will be released through Sargent House, yes.
In my head, and I think in most people’s head as well, you’re associated with a group of heavy artists (like Converge, Russian Circles, Neurosis, etc.) who make pretty straightforward music while your output is significantly more ethereal and psychedelic. If you agree, why do you think that many people make that connection?
CW: I think it’s because each of those bands you mentioned are a rare form of their genre – more experimental and unique, not just “rock” or “hardcore”… They blend different sounds and add different instrumentation to make it their own thing. I like to think my band and I do the same thing. We’ve blended electronics, rock n roll and folk music to create our own sound.
Considering the question above I timidly make the assumption that you maintain some kind of friendship with those bands since you’re label-buddies with Russian Circles and contributed to Converge’s special “Blood Moon” set.
CW: Yes, many of us from the bands you mentioned before are friends and we support each other! I met Neurosis last year through the “Blood Moon” set as well and was overjoyed to have kind words and support from them as well. It’s encouraging when the bands you admire so much understand your music, it gives you strength to keep going.
Your influences draw from a wide spectrum of genres and artists. One can notice influences from early dark wave, industrial, neo-folk and noise backgrounds. How do you manage to blend so many types of music? Does it come natural or you carefully plan every move you make?
CW: When people say “neo-folk” I’m not sure what they mean, like new folk music? I listened to a lot of older folk, blues and country music growing up and still do so it informs my music very much, but so does a lot of 90’s and 2000’s rock, metal and black metal. I also have always loved trip-hop and downtempo electronic stuff so I guess over the years it blended into my own musical mind in such a way that I wanted to make a little bit of everything. It’s one of the reasons I kept the project under my own name, because I need to ultimately be in creative control and free to morph as needed. I didn’t want to be in a band where it was a democracy and I’d have to compromise on what I wanted the songs to sound like. I’m so lucky to play with musicians that help me create this world!
I know that the question I’m about to make should not have any substance in 2017, but the recording industry is filled predominantly with men. I recognize that things are better now, but patriarchy is rooted strongly through time, unfortunately. Did you meet any difficulties as an aspiring artist? How do you see things as an established one, now? Share with us more women artists that you admire.
CW: Of course, I’ve met some music industry people and even other musicians who wanted to take advantage of me or wanted to work with me for the wrong reasons. It took me a while to see that though because mostly I’m surrounded by very cool men and women who make decisions based on art, not on gender. Especially now… I mean, I’ve been playing shows these last two weeks with True Widow, King Woman and Oathbreaker – there is no question that women are just as powerful in music as men are and none of us ever thought any different! I admire all the women in those bands. Nikki from True Widow is like my rock n roll guru – she is the coolest and I love the way she plays bass and sings with her golden voice.
I always imagined your music perfectly as a soundtrack and then I found out that it was actually used a fair number of times for the screen. Did you expect that it could be used in that way? Does the art of film inspire you as an artist? What other forms of art do you appreciate or incorporate in your art?
CW: I always hoped my music would be used in films or for trailers – I think cinematically when I write and aspire to create my own visuals that I feel accurately represent my songs. It’s great to see new stories set to my songs. I think any art form can inspire me musically, really. A great painting can inspire a song, and if I’m reading a good novel, it always informs something I’ll write for the next album. I was reading a lot of Walt Whitman this past year so there’s a song that is very Walt Whitman inspired on the next album. Fashion shows and fashion editorials have always been very inspiring for my photos and videos as well – some designers really know how to create a dream world, like Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen, AF Vandevorst, Yohji Yamamoto.
What should the Greek audience expect from your show?
CW: My band and I are playing songs from “Abyss”, “Pain is Beauty” and “Apokalypsis”, as well as one or two new ones.
Thank you so much for your time. I’m looking forward to your performance.
CW: Thank you!