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Chelsea Wolfe





Levitation: Chelsea Wolfe Holds Communion at Church

  

 

A dreary Saturday peers in through the stained glass at Central Presbyterian Church. The gothic arches, the ribbed vaults, the red velvet cushions lining the dark pews, along with the incredible acoustics of the church make this one of the most beautiful venues in town, especially for shows worth sitting down. The gothic architecture enhances the dark but sensuous sound. Chelsea Wolfe stood center pulpit in a glowing white dress with puffed glowing sleeves hanging from her shoulder, surrounded by orange burning candles and a paganesque set design of concentric white stick circles looking like bones.

Wolfe opened with “Flatlands;” the familiar opening chords and gentle lyrics facilitated an instant communion of music and spirit. Wolfe’s ethereal voice washes over everyone, the elevated spirit of music through her instructing the spirit of the audience to meet above in the vaulted ceiling.

The acoustic opening song was not the softest of the set, instead it was when she stepped down from her podium to take a comfortable seat to cover Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” When two festivals collide! Wolfe’s cover gives new life and context to the Mitchell’s golden ode. Woodstock sings about the freedom of rock and roll and the inherent stardust in us all despite the violence and uncertainty of the world outside. As the community and constituents of Levitation, we are still golden we are still stardust and we are still trying to find our way back to the garden.

The church is full of punks and fringe society here to hear Chelsea Wolfe mesmerize with “Mother Road.” A band of blue lights fan behind her like a peacock display, the swirling haze as the eyes of each feather. Geometric shapes dance on top of the stained-glass loops and parabolas. Sargent House holding mass in a dim lit gothic church on a Saturday afternoon was another sweet moment of Levitation magic, and Chelsea Wolfe beautifully expressed herself as an individual and a conduit of the spirit.

- Mel Green

Photo: Casey Holder

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Desert Daze 2013: Chelsea Wolfe Interview

 

Our love for Chelsea Wolfe’s ghostly harmonics is hard to hide. We were lucky enough to chat with the doom-folk songstress before she hit the stage to charm the eager crowd by the light of the moon. 

 

The Deli: Have you played a lot of festivals? 

 

Chelsea: I haven’t played many festivals. I like it to be more contained. Typically something in the desert doesn’t appeal to me to play music. I love the landscape. It would be fun to come to a festival in the desert, but playing out in the heat doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. That’s why I requested a nighttime set rather than playing during the day. 

 

The Deli: Do you have a favorite venue to play? 

 

Chelsea: I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I like unique spaces. We got to play at the First Unitarian Church in LA for an acoustic show and that was interesting. It’s always more challenging to play in a space that’s not geared to having shows, but it was worth it.

 

The Deli: Today is Record Store Day, do you have something special planned?

 

Chelsea: Yeah, I have a split 7” with King Dude. He’s a good friend of ours and a really great musician. We each wrote a song for it and then sang on each other’s songs. It’s out on Sargent House. I’m excited. I’ve never participated in anything for Record Store Day before. 

 

The Deli: Do you remember the first record you bought?

 

C: I don’t. I’m not really a collector. I’ve been given a lot of really good records over the years. I guess I just leave that to the people around me and then just listen to their music. 

 

The Deli: Is there anything you’re listening to right now that you’re really into? 

 

C: Wardruna. They just came out with a new album I really like. 

 

The Deli: You’re music has a supernatural quality. Is that an intentional inspiration? 

 

C: My aesthetic is a little bit drawn toward cult films. But I don’t consider myself someone who’s interested in the occult or witchcraft or anything like that. I definitely acknowledge the spiritual realm, but it’s not something I specifically draw upon. It’s more of just a sense of cinematic atmosphere. Like visuals in my head. I don’t usually have a lot of visuals live, like projections or anything like that. For me, it’s more about what you see when you close your eyes and really get into the song. 

 

The Deli: What inspires your fashion? 

 

C: I just like certain designers. Just stuff that’s kind of a bit off. I’m just drawn to a certain  sort of aesthetic that’s interesting or a little bit different. I don’t think I have an amazing sense of fashion. Like I said, I don’t do a lot of visuals or visual art. I’m interested in a lot of things like sculpture, but I guess fashion is the only thing that’s represented visually. 

 

The Deli: You’re about to leave for a big tour right? 

 

C: Yeah we’re going to go to Europe and Russia for a month. We did a European tour, but I’ve never been to Russia. I was kind of surprised when we got invited there, but I’m down. We leave Monday. that’s why we’re not camping. 

 

The Deli: Anything else coming up? 

 

C: We have a new album coming out, but it hasn’t been announced. So I’m excited about that. We recorded in Los Angeles mostly. But a lot of the songs are recorded in different places. I like to use different spaces to record if I can. 

 

- Jacqueline Caruso

Photo Courtesy of Leslie Andrew Ridings

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Live Review: Chelsea Wolfe at KXSC Fest 3/30/13

The student-run college radio station KXSC, based out of USC, put on the 5th installment of their annual Fest this Saturday. Featuring a cross section of the LA Indie scene, the lineup included garage rockers The Dead Ships, party starters Nguzungzu and headliner Dan Deacon. Undoubtedly an eclectic and entrancing night of music, but the true highlight was Chelsea Wolfe. She brought her doom-folk, and a full band to the stage for a set that transfixed the college ballroom. What normally feels like a lecture hall was transformed into what felt like the site of a cult sacrifice. The crowd - dominated by young males who seemed to know every song by the opening swells - leaned in to worship at Wolfe’s altar as she possessed us with her folklore. She artfully rocked her way through most of the tunes from Apokalypsis, which showcased the insane creative talents of her band, most notably Kevin Dockter’s hauntingly sinister guitar work during “Pale on Pale.” Each song was drenched in a ghostly gloom that filled the room with mystical anticipation, as if Wolfe herself would somehow be transformed by her own incantations. Despite some unfortunate sound issues, we were all relieved when the violinist returned to the stage to close out the set with “Flatlands.” Her artistry and ambiance aside, this is a tune that stays with you. The clear standout, “Flatlands” soars in the live setting. Stripped down, it allows the eastern-leaning guitar riff to take the lead, while her understated tension pours out in a misty cloud of poetry over us, hanging there just out of reach. You can catch the mystifying Wolfe and her band at Desert Daze on April 20. - Jacqueline Caruso

Photo Courtesy of Leslie Andrew Ridings

 

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Video: Chelsea Wolfe, “Flatlands”

“Flatlands,” the first track off of Chelsea Wolfe's 2012 release, ‘Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs’ is beautifully haunting. The Converse x Decibel Collaboration produced video for the song captures this and takes you further into Wolfe’s psyche, with her poetic whispers acting as bookends. The visuals are just as poetic, exploring the dichotomy of gothic luxury and pastoral contemplations. Moving seamlessly through scenes of Wolfe draped in flowing layers of effortless fabric, laying listless in a bath of milk, caressing white roses, and commanding the sea; all are tinged with the pain and longing that fills the album. Chelsea Wolfe will be playing live Friday, Feburary 8 at the First Unitarian Church, closing out her recent tour. - Jacqueline Caruso

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