Full interview by Izzi Krombholz via Women In Rock
Chelsea Wolfe, the modern day Queen of Goth, was kind enough to answer some questions for me. She recently played Bogart’s when she was on tour opening for Ministry and I was beyond impressed with the show. Wolfe’s iconic look and dark music style will only continue to make her a legend in the music world.
Izzi Krombholz: Growing up, what were your musical influences? What pulled you towards darker music?
Chelsea Wolfe: I was just drawn to music that felt honest. I was drawn to storytellers like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn. I was also drawn to androgynous voices, like Nina Simone, Brian Molko, Lindsey Buckingham. My dad listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and turned me on to rock n roll and blues. My mom got me into Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt, and then my sisters and I were into radio R&B and hip hop, so I was lucky to have a really wide range of musical influences at a young age.
IK: How has your sleep paralysis influenced your music?
CW: Since I was a kid I’ve had sleep issues that have turned me into a sort of day-dreamy person. My parents took me to a sleep research center when I was young because I would have insomnia for days and then when I finally fell asleep I’d be thrashing and screaming in my sleep. As I grew up it turned into sleep paralysis, where, for me, that translates into the figures from my dreams still being in the room with me even after I wake up and open my eyes. There’s a thin veil between waking and sleeping for me, and I think that atmosphere has naturally crept into the way that I write. I can imagine two situations at once at all times. Each song of mine holds more than one story, just like reality.
IK: What spurred your musical style to go from a more folk sound to heavier and more doom?
CW: They’ve both always been there, side by side. My first album has ringings of both. Even the album I made before that which I threw away, had elements of both acoustic folk and rock n roll. I have two sides to me, always tugging at each other. As soon as I do an acoustic tour I want to write heavy songs, and vice versa.
IK: How have you developed your image artistically?
CW: In the past, it was a lot of experimenting with friends just for fun, and then it got to a point where I was getting asked to do a lot of shoots but I had little to no creative control, so there’s a lot of images out there of me that make me cringe because they don’t feel like me. More recently, I’ve started to say no to things and also just create my own shoots and work closely with great artists like John Crawford, Bill Crisafi, Kristin Cofer, Jesse Draxler, and costume designers Jenni Hensler and Ashley Rose to help me create some dream images that really relate to the music I’m making at the time.
IK: What are your 3 favorite goth albums?
Cocteau Twins – Garlands
Depeche Mode – Violator
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Let Love In
I also really love a couple songs from Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hyæna.
IK: What are your 3 favorite horror movies?
CW: I don’t really dig horror movies – I’m too sensitive to violence. I loved “Only Lovers Left Alive.” I like films that take the aesthetic of a horror film and make it into something more interesting and less gory. I’m an empath so I have to be careful about not watching too much dark stuff – it affects me in a really heavy way.
IK: Drink of choice?
CW: Matcha tea, or a shot of good tequila.
IK: If you could collaborate with any musician, who would it be and why?
CW: I would’ve loved to sing with Townes Van Zandt, he’s one of my biggest inspirations.
IK: What’s to follow Hiss Spun?
CW: I’ve spent the last three months mostly at home, writing acoustic songs, so..
IK: What is your most prized possession on tour (non show related)?
CW: Honestly, my first reaction to this is to say bandmates: Ben, Jess and Bryan. They’re the best people and they always help me stay grounded and focused on the road. I’m grateful I get to travel the world with them!