By James Olson
VANCOUVER — Chelsea Wolfe’s distinctively moody and eclectic sound has been frequently subjected to the processes of refinement and experimentation. Wolfe’s blend of goth, folk, electronic and metal influences is singularly her own, yet endlessly fascinating how it has evolved and morphed.
“I think any artist approaches a new album differently than the last, because you’re in a different place than you were before,” says Wolfe.
Abyss, her fifth album on Sargent House, veers between the thick industrial menace of “Carrion Flowers” to the acoustic driven tension rifled “Survive.” Additionally, Wolfe mentions the importance of collaboration with artists she has toured and recorded with over the course of her career. “When I was writing Apokalypsis, my bandmates at the time and I were playing shows as new songs were written, so they really developed in the live setting. But Pain is Beauty came about from an electronic side project my bandmate Ben Chisholm and I had – it was the point I really decided not to put any limits on this project so we started incorporating those electronic songs into the set and it worked” she explains. Wolfe draws on a similar place in terms of emotions and atmospherics but songwriting is largely instinctual.
Over the course of her career, Wolfe has made a name for herself as a musician with a great eye for visuals. Her live show and music videos compliment if not enhance the mood and intensity of her gloomy songs. In a desire to metaphorically disappear onstage, Wolfe has been known to don a Victorian mourning gown and veil, one of many ways that the artist reinforces the oft funereal vibe of her songs. “As I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin over the years I’ve experimented more with visuals, mostly with my photographer friends, and a few video directors who’ve pushed me to try new things and be more raw on camera” Wolfe says “I do a lot of the visual things myself, like styling and music videos, sometimes because I don’t have budget for it but still have a desire to create some visual representation, or sometimes because I just have a strong vision relating to a certain song.”
This latest North America tour proves to be a unique experience as Wolfe has brought on fellow Sargent House label mate A Dead Forest Index to serve as opener. The Kiwi folk duo’s live show is described as “really intimate, intense, but also comforting” by Wolfe, a glowing recommendation for an equally ethereal act. For those with a flavour for the darkness, Wolfe’s live show is a must-see.
Chelsea Wolfe performs at The Imperial on May 29.BC, British Columbia, Chelsea Wolfe, The Imperial