For genre-bending rock singer Chelsea Wolfe, her music has largely stemmed from the various experiences that have shaped her life. From growing up around her father’s country music band, teaching herself to play the guitar, and touring Europe with an artist, Chelsea’s unique experiences are as diverse as the sounds in her recordings. After the 2017 release of her sixth studio album Hiss Spun to her recent participation in Fender’s American Professional artist-driven video series, she has proven that her pathway in the music industry has led to success. We sat down with Chelsea to talk about her roots, evolution, and recent projects:
Full interview via Huffington Post.
BD- What were some of your early influences?
CW: Before music, it was words I was drawn to. I was writing poetry from a young age and found that I could understand the world through that. My dad and stepmom had a country band while I was growing up. I’d go over there on the weekends and hear them practicing Fleetwood Mac covers and original songs. Eventually, I asked my dad to teach me to record songs so he set me up with a Tascam 8-track and a Casio keyboard, and from there I never stopped writing and recording. My mom introduced me to a lot of great folk music as well, and I mostly remember Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt standing out to me as a young person. I’m named after a Joni Mitchell song! My dad introduced me to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and a lot of great old country music.
BD- When did this interest in music progress to a potential career in music?
CW: The desire was always there, but I was a very shy person and pretty much self-taught, so I never imagined that I could be a successful musician just based on that. I tried a few different avenues… going to massage school, studying language at university and community colleges, but nothing ever held me and I kept getting drawn back into music. Eventually, I was stuck in a day job and writing and recording music at home. Enough friends encouraged me to start playing shows, so I did that and eventually decided to put an album together. I guess that was the starting point, when I wanted to put together a finished work that wasn’t just a few songs on a CD. My friend, painter and performance artist Steve Vanoni, invited me on a European tour to be the resident musician at the end of each night of art performances. I was able to experiment with my voice and songs in different spaces in front of open and accepting audiences – that was very important in my journey to becoming a musician.
BD- You just released your sixth studio album, how do the sounds and influences of this album differentiate it from your previous releases?
CW: I reconnected with my friend and drummer Jess Gowrie, who introduced and re-introduced me to a lot of my favorite music of the 90’s and early 2000’s… NIN, Tricky, Deftones, Soundgarden. We were listening to a lot of that again while writing Hiss Spun. Jess and I reuniting after seven years of separation was the catalyst for this new album, and the fact that I am really comfortable writing with her influenced the feel of this album a lot – this album is a lot more confident, aggressive, and in-your-face than before.
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BD- How do you think that you have evolved since before you’ve been signed and started recording professionally?
CW- Well I’m a lot more focused. In the past I would write a song and then immediately put it out on the Internet a couple days later. Now I’m much more reserved and will spend more time on the songs and I want to actually put together well thought out albums instead of just songs here or there. I’ve been focusing more on creating albums that are a complete thought, that’s definitely something that I think I’ve gotten better at over the years hopefully. I don’t really look back on my evolution, I think that’s other peoples job to do. I’m jut always looking towards the future, as soon as I finish one album I look towards the next one.
BD- You recently got tapped by Fender to be a part of the 2017 American Professional artist-driven video series, how long have you played with a Fender guitar for?
CW: My dad played a Fender Telecaster while I was growing up and I always admired it. When I first moved to LA, around 2011, I bought my first Fender, a Jaguar, after being drawn to it in a guitar store. I played it for years after that, and have also added a Fender Starcaster and Gibson ES 335’s to my arsenal as I’ve grown fonder of hollow bodies over the years.
BD- Is there anything in particular that you hope fans will get out of your video?
CW: I think it was cool for Fender to feature a player like me, who isn’t the most technical player out there, but who has created my own style and been able to have a pretty rad career despite that. There are gear purists who I knew would react negatively to the video and only want to see traditional shredders, but my video wasn’t really for them. It was for a younger person who is maybe just starting out, to see another direction you can take with music and guitar.
BD- Are there any upcoming projects that you are working on that fans can look forward to?
CW: I’ve already started working on ideas and songs for my next album! And I’ll be working on a collaboration this winter that I can’t quite talk about yet, but I’m really excited about it.
Check out Chelsea Wolfe’s participation in Fender’s American Professional Artist Driven series