From the dark recesses of “immeasurable spaces,” comes Abyss, the eighth studio album from Chelsea Wolfe. In “Carrion Flowers,” the LP’s lead track, an airy voice floats atop jaded bass and heavy kicks, paving the feeling of an electrocuted war march. “Growing from repeated crimes / the afterglow in full bloom,” she demands. The power of unanswered questions, reality, and human sadness, Wolfe says, are the places from which she creates—”these things have always haunted me.”
What were your artistic references when making Abyss?
For the album artwork, my initial inspiration was something very well known, Henry Fuseli’s painting “The Nightmare.” I remembered that this great young painter Henrik Uldalen had reached out to me the year before to work together, but his work really resonated with the themes of Abyss.. The subjects in his paintings are floating in blank space or disintegrating. I sent him photos to reference and he painted the cover. The other photos and video were taken by my bandmate Ben Chisholm, near where I live in the mountains and around California. That made it feel more personal.
What’s behind the name?
Early on in putting this album together I wrote the song “The Abyss.” I knew I was going to dive really deep into myself and into some dark places for this album, so that song was a sort of reminder not to lose myself in all that darkness. The word ABYSS stood out to me so much after that though, graphically/visually, but also the multiple meanings behind it: an immeasurable or infinite space, deep ocean, chaos before creation. The album was built from there.
What’s your favorite moment on the record?
When Ezra [Buchla] screamed into his viola pickup for the end of “Iron Moon,” in key. He used to do that live sometimes when we toured Europe together and I always loved it. In the studio I asked him if he would do it for that song and he immediately did. Luckily John [Congleton] was recording. Everyone in the room was stunned or crying. Even thinking about it now makes me emotional. I’ve learned a lot from Ezra.
Do you prefer the studio or the road?
One state of being balances out the other. I love writing and recording the most, but I also have amazing experiences on the road. A lot of lyrics come to me while I’m on tour. Something about the long drives really helps me understand and articulate ideas.
Who do you think is making the most interesting music today?
I love Alessandro Cortini’s stuff, Werner Herzog soundtracks, Kendrick Lamar.
What’s your dream bill?
I’d love to open for Nine Inch Nails or Tool. Playing with Queens of the Stone Age was dreamy, I adore those guys and have loved their music for many years.
Why do you make music?
The power of unanswered questions, reality, human sadness—these things have always haunted me. I started by writing poems but was introduced to music and recording through my father who was in a country band when I was a kid. I found that I could set my words to music quite naturally, and I’ve never stopped writing and recording music since.
What is your WILD Wish?
I wish empathy, patience and kindness were equally important to humanity as wealth, power, or fame.