Interview / LOGAN BRENDT
Photos / CHARLENE BAGCAL
Stylist / JENNI HENSLER
Dress, Malgorzata Dudek. Ring ,Hollow Dancer.
Chelsea Wolfe, the witchy goth music princess is quickly rising to success with her second album Apokalypsis, and a current European tour. Though she stands out as unique on her own, she’s often categorized into the same genre that includes complimentary comparisons to Zola Jesus, Grimes, and Lykke Li. She has the natural formula to be as successful, as she is convincingly dark and majestic with her classical sounding voice and solemn melodic music. She embodies mournful intelligence and beautiful darkness, including her lyrics that can stand alone as poetry.
Who has inspired you musically, over the years? Selda Bağcan, Vladimir Vysotsky, Erik Satie, Vashti Bunyan, Black Sabbath, Lindsey Buckingham, Nick Cave, Antony and the Johnsons, and Patti Smith.
What draws you to the occult? I like that sort of dark 60′s & 70′s occult aesthetic: Jean Rollin’s Fascination, Fellini, Kwaidan. I mean, that’s what I think of when I hear the word “occult”— a sort of visual style I’m attracted to, but I’m not interested in cults. I was a part of one in junior high and some of high school and it wasn’t for me. It really taught me the importance of finding your own vision and path.
You’re going on your first European tour. What city are you most looking forward to seeing? My first full band tour, yes. I haven’t been to Prague or Rome, or London actually. I’ve heard beautiful things of all those cities. I look forward to going back to Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki as well. I love being that far north.
Do you have anything planned in-between shows, like sightseeing? We don’t have much time off, but I do hope to visit a Weekday store and find some other interesting clothing shops or showrooms to browse! I love visiting old cathedrals and churches in Europe. My friend Jude took me to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon last time I was on tour and I want to take my band there. It’s incredible and the view from that hill is unreal.
Because your music and aesthetic both embodies beautiful darkness, what would be something people would find surprisingly “light” about you? I don’t believe that you have to live a dark or unhappy life in order to create art that embodies darkness. I try to live a simple, positive life, but I take the world at large as well as the world around me as inspiration and there are plenty of dark thoughts that come from reality. I also recognize the contrasts though, and I see the beautiful and the horrific juxtaposed everywhere.
Do you listen to pop music? Do you have a guilty pleasure when it comes to pop music? I don’t know what really is pop music. Catchy music? I loved t.A.T.u.
You’re very much a visual artist as you are a music artist. Who are your favorite visual artists? I am obsessed with Jan Saudek at the moment. My first love was Egon Schiele, when I was younger. Maison Martin Margiela has always inspired and impressed me. I have a wide range of visual art that I adore, which can be confusing— from minimal to lush. My good friend Steve Vanoni is a great folk artist and taught me a lot about life and art. I also love Nan Goldin, and the films of Lars von Trier, John Waters and Werner Herzog.
How much of a perfectionist are you when it comes to writing and making music? “Perfectionist” probably isn’t the right word because what I like isn’t really what others would consider “perfect.” That said, I am a bit OCD about certain sounds in a song and in that way am not always very fun to be around in the mixing stage of making an album. Certain tones and hidden sounds resonate with me and become necessary.
What do you enjoy more: The beginnings of a song, when you first start writing and putting melodies together, or when you’ve finished the song, and get to perform it live? I like recording better than performing live. Sometimes when I record I’m writing as I record, and sometimes the song is already finished, so it’s different every time. I only really like performing a song once I’ve performed it for a while and I become comfortable with it.
What saddens you greatly in this world? The way people treat each other, the way people treat animals, the way that resources like water and fossil fuels are stolen and then sold back to us by corporations. There’s an immense disrespect and disregard for life or nature. The cycle of poverty is really bad. People get pushed off their lands; pushed into poverty and have no way out. Evil breeds evil and the cycle causes people to do things for money or food that are deeply saddening.
What makes you the most happy? It’s strange or, difficult, to answer this question after that last one. But, I am at a point in my life when I am working with great people, able to play more and more shows, and I’m excited about the new music I’ll be recording this summer, so I feel lucky and happy.
Dress, Luis Cascante. Jewelry, Bevel NYC.