Chelsea Wolfe Writes Her Drone Folk From a "Different Perspective"
Angel Ceballos Chelsea Wolfe is scheduled to perform Tuesday, February 5, at Crescent Ballroom.
Despite cultivating an audience that includes both folk lovers and metalheads, the gorgeously downcast songwriting of Chelsea Wolfe has been mistakenly typecast: The stark cover of Wolfe's feral, cacophonous 2011 album, Apokalypsis, showed a portrait of the California native with whited-out eyes, an image she has said was intended to look pure and uplifting, but uninitiated observers missed that as they read a goth sensibility into Wolfe's work.
But there's no mistaking the tranquil, beatific underpinnings of Wolfe's most recent album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, a string- and piano-driven departure that takes her spectral voice out of candlelight and into the sunrise.
Wolfe says the songs were culled from a huge cache of past material, hence her labeling the album a "collection." "[The album] was unique because so many songs were up to five or six years old," she says. "Songs I wrote two years ago I end up falling back in love with."
That "love" doesn't mean the subject matter, among the string flourishes and delicate arrangements, isn't suitably dark. "Spinning Centers" best demonstrates the album's serenity and empty space, but Wolfe says it's a dreamlike tale of confronting death's void.
Charlene Bagcal Chelsea Wolfe
"Often the themes of my songs are about death because I haven't experienced it much myself; no one close to me has passed away," she says. "I try to understand what that's like, writing songs about it from different perspectives."
Wolfe's song often explore the "unknown," be it an emotional experience or something far beyond.
"Most of my songs I write outside of myself," Wolfe explains. "I try not to write about my own stories too often. A lot of times the idea is based on something in my own life that I will expand on, create a story or put it into a different time period, or something to give it a less personalized feel. It can be something a lot of people can relate to. I don't always like songs to be too specifically about one thing in my life. It's about understanding an emotion, exploring it a certain way."