[GOTHIC FOLK] It’s raining in Los Angeles, but Chelsea Wolfe doesn’t mind. “I kind of hate how it’s always sunny here,” says the lanky, darkly eyelined singer-songwriter, sitting in a coffee shop in the gritty-hip Echo Park neighborhood.
This is unsurprising: Wolfe’s music could never be described as “sunny.” Her essentially folk style has been intriguingly hyphenated with descriptors like “goth,” “doom” and even “metal” since she broke out in 2011. Regardless of the weather, a personal meteorology regulates the music Wolfe makes—interior atmospheric conditions under which inauspicious, chartreuse-hued skies cultivate strange yet beautiful flora from folk roots.
Wolfe was raised in her small Northern California hometown by a country-musician dad. “I started as a folk singer-songwriter, just me and my guitar,” she says. “Any art or music I’ve ever done is very self-taught, so I just consider it folk art, even though sometimes it’s more refined and genre-specific.”
After making her debut in 2010 with The Grime and the Glow, Wolfe then drew a wider audience (and tastemakers’ notice) the following year with Apokalypsis. That record, while excellent, played up the more theatrical elements of Wolfe’s dark sensibility (see: Apokalypsis’ cover art, which depicts Wolfe, head raised as though in supplication, with whited-out eyes). In many ways, Wolfe’s latest disc, last fall’s Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, feels truer to her just-me-and-my-guitar origins. The compilation of previously unreleased demos and new material leaves behind Apokalypsis’ plugged-in, rock-oriented sound to take a mostly acoustic direction, and replaces melodrama with a vague sense of dread. Unknown Rooms shows Wolfe’s underlying artistic vision to be as unaffected by genre as it is by L.A.’s sunshine.
think I would be inspired by the same things anywhere I lived,” Wolfe
says. Then, donning her fur-lined huntress’s coat, she heads out under a
bleak but luminous white winter sky.
SEE IT: Chelsea Wolfe plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., on Sunday, Jan. 13. 9 pm. $12 advance, $14 day of show. 21+.