photo by Nick Fancher

Chelsea Wolfe has been winning high praise for her music since her label debut album The Grime And The Glow blended surreal goth imagery and shoe-gazing textures with angular, experimental guitar work. Her follow-up album, the stunning Apokalypsis showed that Wolfe was no one-trick pony, and since then each of her 3 further albums have developed in style and vision. Her most recent album, Abyss, is a staggering piece of art that cements the artist as a legend on the underground music scene.

Ahead of her performance at this week’s FYF festival in Los Angeles, CA, ARTISTdirect caught up with Chelsea to discuss the artists world view, her most recent project, and the half-written songs just waiting to be a next album.

Where in the world are you right now?

Prague. I fall in love with this city more and more each time. Just ended a short European tour, played a few festivals. Here’s a picture I took from my hotel window early this morning when I couldn’t sleep, and here’s a picture I took yesterday of a gravestone angel at the Vyšehrad cemetery, final resting place of Alphonse Mucha.

photo by Kristen Cofer

Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?

CW: My latest full length album is called Abyss and I released it about a year ago. I wrote it with my bandmate Ben Chisholm and then we brought in Ezra Buchla (viola), Mike Sullivan (of Russian Circles, guitar) and Dylan Fujioka (drums) to add layers and new feelings to the songs. I spent a month in Dallas recording it with John Congleton at his studio there.

It’s about the mind as a deep abyss – dropping into your own dreams and memories, sleep paralysis, and pushing forward while someone or something tries to drag you backwards, down into a dark well. The album cover was painted by artist Henrik Uldaalen and it represents my experiences with sleep paralysis. There are THC chocolates in the candy dish over there.

How do you describe your music to new friends?

It depends on what incarnation of my band I’m touring with. Sometimes I’ll say rock n roll, sometimes folk or acoustic, sometimes experimental. “What kind of music do you play?” is most often asked by a TSA agent at airport security as they x-ray my guitar. They’ll ask, “Are you going to play a tune for us?”

Other than Chelsea Wolfe, what should your hometown be known for?

CW: Sacramento is well-known for many weird, dark, interesting bands like Deftones, The Cramps, Death Grips, Trash Talk. My favorite band is Screature and Sacramento should definitely be known for them.

Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you (and that your relationship with it/them).

My Starcaster on the hotel bed… It’s a hollow body Fender guitar that I was magnetically drawn to when I first saw it.

What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…

It was a combination of sounds and situation and realizing that I could put the emotions they caused into words. I started writing poems at a young age, 6 or 7, and started setting them to music by age 9.

My father had a band and a home studio. He taught me how to make beats on a Casio keyboard and record my voice and from then on I never stopped. The sounds became words and the words became songs.

What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?

After age 30, don’t drink cheap alcohol. More importantly, when you’re on stage, own the stage. Don’t hold back for anyone else’s sake. Josh Homme told me that.

What song best sums up your life right now?

“Of Ice and Movement” Gorgoroth

What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?

In Moscow a girl was yelling, “your soul is my soul” throughout the show – kind of intense, but I thought it was very poetic and genuine.

Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?

Working on a new album, feeling free and in the throes of it.

What’s your next step towards that dream?

Taking some time off from touring to clear my head and finish half-written songs.

(via ARTISTdirect)