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Last time I checked, the music industry wasn't that interesting, rather, nothing much to get excited about. I was driving to the office one morning back in February, tuned in to my favorite radio station, KXLU in Los Angeles, when a new song came on that made me pull over and stop. We're not allowed to drive and use cell phones in this town, so I pulled over and pushed the number to KXLU. I have their number memorized from twenty years ago, 558-KXLU (5956). They're out of Loyala Marymount University on the westside of town. Anyway, I had to find out who was performing this song, so I called the DJ to find out. The answer was Chelsea Wolfe. Thus began my quest to find out who this new artist was. She reminded me a little of Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), or Keren Ann, but darker, less polished, more experimental. My next step was to go look her up online. How many albums did she have? And, more important, was she local, where was she performing next?

My Google search turned up a website with her name, so I went and checked it out. She had just put out an album in December called "The Grime and The Glow" (Pendu Sound Recordings), it was available on vinyl, YES, and also for download. She was currently on tour, and she was performing in Los Angeles very soon. So far, so good.

The next thing I did was contact her, to see if she was willing to talk. After explaining who I was, and telling her about The Writing Disorder, Chelsea said she would be willing to do an interview for the site. She said that most of her influences were literary, and that she loved to read and write.



THE WRITING DISORDER: Where did you grow up?

CHELSEA WOLFE: Northern California—Sacramento

TWD: What was your youth like, and what made you want to be a musician?

CHELSEA: I had a rather dark, quiet and foggy childhood and it shaped the way I view the world. I hated all the secrecy so I would sit and watch the world news for hours, just to try and find some truth. Making music has always been my instinctual reaction to the state of the world.

TWD: What are your musical influences or inspirations?

CHELSEA: Vladimir Vysotsky, Selda Bagcan, Nick Cave, Hank Williams. Right now I'm listening to Suicide, SPK, Burzum and a lot of 1920s and ’30s music.

TWD: What are your literary influences or inspirations?

CHELSEA: Ayn Rand—that total idealism ... Marcel Proust ... D.H. Lawrence ... Celine ... Sylvia Plath...

TWD: Are you self-taught?


TWD: When did you first become interested in music?

CHELSEA: I started writing songs when I was 9 years old and would record them in my dad's studio. Basically casio-based gothy R&B songs.

TWD: Where do your songs come from? How do you begin?

CHELSEA: Different process each time, really. Sometimes I'll have a lyric that is fixed in my head and I'll write a song around it. Other times I make all the music first and sing into the sound. I write music because I have to. My favorite part of music is recording so that's usually how I write songs. Then I have the challenge of translating it for a live show.

TWD: How much of what you write do you throw away?

CHELSEA: A lot of it. Well, I don't throw it away, but I don't show anyone most of the music I make. I write a lot of songs and choose the ones I feel closest with to perform or record for an album.


TWD: What is your work space like?

CHELSEA: Half my room. I have equipment set up to record ideas and write new stuff, but I also have a space downtown where my band and I work out songs and practice.

TWD: What books did you read growing up?

CHELSEA: Hmm. White Noise by Don DeLillo. W. Somerset Maugham—The Moon and Sixpence. A lot of Kurt Vonnegut and Charles Bukowski. I still love Cat's Cradle and The Sirens of Titan. When I was young my favorite book was Tiger Eyes.

TWD: What do you read now?

CHELSEA: Right now I'm going through a lot of D.H. Lawrence's books. I started with Sons and Lovers ... simple, honest stories ... but his description of nature is what I really love—it puts me at peace and gives me great mental imagery and ideas.

When I read Atlas Shrugged it inspired a lot of one of my new (unreleased) albums, "Ἀποκάλυψις." Celine's Death on the Installment Plan inspired the title for my new album (out now on Pendu Sound): "The Grime and the Glow."

TWD: What’s your favorite sound?

CHELSEA: White noise, really. I don't listen to a lot of music.

TWD: What’s your favorite word?

CHELSEA: Right now, "wild" or "feral."


TWD: If you had a spirit animal, what would it be?

CHELSEA: A cat maybe.

TWD: What is your favorite holiday?

CHELSEA: Winter. I'm not big on holidays but I love having some time to spend with family and close loved ones.

TWD: What is your favorite store (online or actual place)?

CHELSEA: Wow, this is getting into it ... Hmm.. Need Supply, Opening Ceremony and Allsaints all carry some amazing clothing, but American Vintage is more in my price range right now ... Also I just found a great bookstore in L.A. called Stories, and Beers Books in Sacramento is a good one.

TWD: What is your favorite beverage?

CHELSEA: Water or good vodka.

TWD: What do you love to hate?

CHELSEA: Driving.

TWD: What song do you hate to admit you like?

CHELSEA: I really liked that group T.A.T.U. actually.

TWD: Is your head constantly filled with music?


TWD: What are your plans for your next album?

CHELSEA: I am currently recording an album called “RUSSIAN KARAOKE” ... a lot of new dark folk or experimental stuff ... and reworking a couple of older songs.

TWD: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you?

CHELSEA: Probably being born into this madness. When I was little I thought maybe I was an alien.

TWD: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

CHELSEA: Still making music … living a quiet life somewhere beautiful.

TWD: What do you think of Los Angeles?

CHELSEA: I like L.A. A little hot and sunny for my taste, but there are some great people, and it's easy to be productive here.

TWD: How do you translate a song from a recording to a live performance?

CHELSEA: Depends on what kind of song it is. If it's a song I want to do with the full band, I'll come to them with parts or at least some kind of mental-visual idea for their parts and we work it out together until it feels right. If it's just me playing the song, I'll try keeping it simple with just the guitar, or have some backing tracks or try playing it on a little Casio keyboard or something.

TWD: What do you have on your walls?

CHELSEA: Some Jack Kerouac poetry, a few photos of galaxies and black holes, some folk art and a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s "Bokonon" painting.

TWD: Thank you for your time.



“Most of my lyrics are rather fragmented,” she says.


all the parts of me that lived inside are drowning in the sea of waking life/they don't know their colors don't belong on the outside/they don't know their colors don't belong until they're spread across the open road, til they're spread across the asphalt on the open road, til they're streaming in the wind like cassette tape or jellyfish, long dark veins and records playing memories/all the things we yelled don't mean a thing when we're spinning out on dark and metal wind, when we're flying like blue mary's angels through shattered glass, when we find the tall black shadow waiting there with outstretched hands/he has given me a dress of red and you a skin of gray we'll be twisting here for hours til the light will give us day/we're spread across the open road, and we're spread across the asphalt on the open road, and we're streaming in the wind like cassette tape or jellyfish, long dark veins and records playing memories …

For more information, please go to Chelsea’s website


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