Chelsea Wolfe

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Chelsea Wolfe
Wolfe at Roskilde Festival, 2018
Wolfe at Roskilde Festival, 2018
Background information
Born (1983-11-14) November 14, 1983 (age 37)
Roseville, California, U.S.
OriginSacramento, California, U.S.
  • Singer-songwriter
  • record producer
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
Years active2009–present
Associated actsMrs. Piss

Chelsea Joy Wolfe (born November 14, 1983)[1] is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Her work has blended elements of gothic rock, doom metal, and folk music.

Raised in Northern California with a country musician father, Wolfe began writing and recording songs during her childhood. She earned underground critical acclaim for her releases, The Grime and the Glow (2010) and Apokalypsis (2011), which blended gothic and folk elements, as well as her following albums, Pain Is Beauty (2013), Abyss (2015), and Hiss Spun (2017), in which Wolfe incorporated elements of neofolk,[2] electronic and heavy metal.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Chelsea Wolfe was born in Roseville, California,[a] She is of Norwegian and German descent.[6] She was raised in Roseville and Sacramento. Her father was in a country band[7] and owned a home studio. By the age of 7, she had written her first poem[8] and by the age of 9, had written and recorded songs which she later described as "basically Casio-based gothy R&B songs".[9]

Of her childhood, Wolfe said, "I grew up pretty fast. I had older sisters. By the time I was 11, I was drinking 40s."[8] She also struggled with sleep paralysis as a child and through her teens, which landed her in the hospital for sleep studies; these experiences eventually became material for her albums Abyss and Hiss Spun.[10][11]

Wolfe lived with her grandmother during a part of her childhood, who taught her about aromatherapy, Reiki and "other realms".[12][13]


2006: Mistake in Parting[edit]

In 2006 Wolfe composed an album, titled Mistake in Parting, which was never officially released.[14] Of the album, Wolfe said: "I was 21 years old and wrote a shitty singer-songwriter breakup album. I didn't even really want to be a musician back then, but a lot of my friends were like 'let's do this, I've got some producer friends' and they helped me make this over-produced, terrible record... I sort of took a break from music for a while since I wasn't happy with what I was making".[14] Wolfe later commented that she scrapped the album largely because it had been written about events in her personal life: "I was writing really personal stuff about my own life, and I didn't feel comfortable at all... I didn't want [my music] to be so much about myself, and I just had to find a new perspective".[15]

2010–2012: The Grime and the Glow and Apokalypsis[edit]

Wolfe's first widely released album, The Grime and the Glow (2010),[16] was issued on New York-based independent label Pendu Sound Recordings, preceded that same year by the limited-edition albums Soundtrack VHS/Gold and Soundtrack VHS II.[17] Her next album, Apokalypsis (2011), stylized as Ἀποκάλυψις, gained her an underground following,[18] as well as critical acclaim, receiving favorable reviews in Pitchfork[19] and CMJ.[20] Wolfe toured extensively in North America and Europe to support both albums, and suffered from extreme stage fright; when she initially began performing live, Wolfe would wear a black veil over her face.[21] "Performing was something that I had to learn," she said. "I could barely handle being onstage for the first few years, and it's the reason it took me so long to start my career as a musician".[22]

2012–present: Sargent House[edit]

Wolfe performing San Francisco, California, 2013

In 2012, Wolfe covered five songs by British anarcho-punk band Rudimentary Peni, and issued them as A Tribute To Rudimentary Peni on February 17 as a free download via Pendu Sound. She later rerecorded the Peni songs with her band at Southern Studios in London,[23] and released them as an EP, Prayer for the Unborn, in January 2013 on Southern Records.[24]

Wolfe signed with the label Sargent House in 2012 to release her third album.[25] Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs was released on October 16, 2012,[26][27][28] and featured a more folk-oriented sound, as opposed to her earlier work, which had been heavily centered on droning electric guitars and distortion. The acoustic album contained "'once-orphaned' songs",[29] according to Wolfe. On July 28, 2012, the first single, "The Way We Used To", was premiered on NPR.[29] On September 20, the second single, "Appalachia," was premiered on The Fader[30]

Wolfe released a live album, Live at Roadburn, on September 28, 2012, recorded that April 12 at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands.[31] Wolfe's fourth studio album, Pain Is Beauty, was released September 3, 2013,[32] as well as an album trailer,[33] followed by a supporting North American tour. During 2013 and 2014, Wolfe released two split 7-inch singles with King Dude, Sing Songs Together... and Sing More Songs Together...,[34] and a live EP, Chelsea Wolfe Folkadelphia Session May 31, 2014.[35]

Wolfe also contributed guest vocals to the American post-metal band Russian Circles' fifth studio album, Memorial, released in October 2013. Wolfe and Russian Circles toured Europe together in late 2013.[36][37]

In 2014, she released a long-form film, Lone, featuring music from Pain Is Beauty and directed by Mark Pellington.[38]

"Carrion Flowers", "Iron Moon" and "After the Fall" were released as the second, third and the fourth singles, respectively, from her fourth album, Abyss (2015).

On April 1, 2016, Wolfe released the non-album 7-inch single "Hypnos",[39] preceded by a music video on March 22.[40] In January 2017, she announced a UK/European tour to begin in April.[41]

Her fifth studio album, Hiss Spun, was released by Sargent House on September 22, 2017.[42] She also appeared in collaborations on the 2017 Myrkur album Mareridt[43] and the 2018 Deafheaven album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.[44]

In January 2019, Wolfe teased a new untitled album on Twitter, writing only "2019".[45] On March 12, she revealed that the upcoming album will be largely acoustic, is being recorded in the woods of Northern California, and is inspired by current events. Longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm is co-producing the album, featuring some guest players such as drummer Jess Gowrie.[46]

On June 18, 2019, Wolfe announced her sixth studio album, Birth of Violence and released the first single off the album, "The Mother Road". The album was released on September 13, 2019.[47]

On May 14, 2020, Wolfe and her friend and drummer Jess Gowrie announced their collaborative project Mrs. Piss and their debut album, Self-Surgery with release date on May 29, 2020, through Sargent House.[48]

On May 26, 2021, "Diana," a collaboration between Wolfe, bandmates Ben Chisholm and Jess Gowrie, and Tyler Bates was released as a part of the Dark Nights: Death Metal soundtrack. [49]


In April 2016, Wolfe and bandmate Ben Chisholm were special guests for Converge's collaborative live performance, Blood Moon, along with Stephen Brodsky of Cave In and Steve Von Till of Neurosis. Limited to four European performances, the collective performed "ambient/post-rock interpretations"[50] of various tracks from Converge's discography, particularly songs of their "lesser-heard and slower work".[51] The first Blood Moon set took place at Postbahnhof in Berlin on April 11.[52] The second took place at La Cartonnerie in Reims on April 12.[52] The third took place at Electric Brixton in London on April 13.[52] The fourth and final Blood Moon show took place at the Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands on April 16.[52]


She composed her first two albums on her mother's classical guitar, which was missing a tuning peg; as a result, the strings had to be tuned down, which was a stylistic element carried on to the studio recordings.[53]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Wolfe performing live, 2012

Wolfe has mentioned an array of artists and genres as influences, including black metal and Scandinavian folk music, but has said: "I do have a hard time sticking to one genre, and honestly I prefer it that way. I'd rather be free to experiment and make the kind of art I want to make than be easy to define."[54] Various critics have noted elements of doom metal, drone metal, gothic rock, folk and dark ambient in her music.[54] Aside from gothic[55] and experimental,[56] many critics have dubbed her sound "doom folk".[57] Wolfe has said: "I think deep down I wish I had one of those really gritty voices like Kurt Cobain, so maybe I'm making up for it with distorted guitars."[53] Mojo described her music as "Siouxsie & The Banshees territory [...], with treated strings, echoing drums and lashings of reverb surrounding her double-tracked, crushed velvet voice".[58]

Wolfe has expressed a strong affinity for R&B music,[59] citing Aaliyah as a huge influence on her career since her childhood. She said, "I grew up listening to my dad playing guitar while singing harmonies... As a kid I wanted to record my own songs so he set me up with an 8-track. The vibe of those earliest songs was like, Aaliyah meets Fleetwood Mac – what I was listening to mixed with what my parents were listening to. "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" was my favorite song back then."[60]

Other musical influences include Vladimir Vysotsky, Selda Bagcan, Nick Cave, Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Suicide, SPK, various "1920s and '30s music",[59] Joy Division,[61] and more recently, Black Sabbath, Sunn O))), Deftones, and Neurosis.[62] In the past she mentioned Burzum as an influence, but later said that she considers Burzum's political views as too extreme.[63]

Wolfe has cited the visual elements of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and photographer Nan Goldin as influences,[53] as well as the writings of D.H. Lawrence and Ayn Rand.[64] However, on September 24, 2015, she stated that with regard to her supposed affinity with Rand: "When I said I liked Ayn Rand many years ago I didn't know anything about what she stood for or what her books meant. I recant!".[65] Other writers she has mentioned as inspirations include Marcel Proust, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Sylvia Plath.[59]

Since 2011, Wolfe has worked with New York-based costume designer and wardrobe stylist Jenni Hensler,[66] whom she credits with helping her cultivate and develop her own original image.[67][68][69] Hensler's costumes and styling work can be seen both in Wolfe's live performances[70] and music videos,[71][72] most recently in the video for "Be All Things."[73]

Wolfe has been noted as having a soprano vocal range.[74]


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Live at Roadburn (2012, Roadburn Records)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Advice & Vices" digital single (2010, Pendu Sound Recordings)
  • Prayer for the Unborn EP (2013, Southern Records)
  • Sing Songs Together... split 7-inch single with King Dude (2013, Sargent House)
  • Sing More Songs Together... split 7-inch single with King Dude (2014, Not Just Religious Music)
  • Chelsea Wolfe Folkadelphia Session May 31, 2014 digital EP (2014, Folkadelphia)
  • "Iron Moon" digital single (2015, Sargent House)
  • "Carrion Flowers" digital single (2015, Sargent House)
  • "After the Fall" digital single (2015, Sargent House)
  • "Hypnos" 7-inch single (2016, Sargent House)
  • "16 Psyche" digital single (2017, Sargent House)
  • "Vex" digital single (2017, Sargent House)
  • "Offering" digital single (2017, Sargent House)
  • "The Culling" digital single (2017, Sargent House)

Band members[edit]

Wolfe performing with her backing band at Hellfest in 2017
  • Chelsea Wolfe – vocals, guitar
  • Ben Chisholm – synth, bass, piano, electronics[75]
  • Jess Gowrie – drums[75]
  • Bryan Tulao – lead guitar[75]
  • Fred Sablan - bass
  • Troy Van Leeuwen - guitars[75]
  • Dylan Fujioka – drums
  • Kevin Dockter – lead guitar
  • Andrea Calderon – violin
  • Ezra Buchla – viola
  • Drew Walker – drums
  • Addison Quarles – bass
  • Aurielle Zeitler – lead guitar (live)
  • Mike Sullivan – guitar



  1. ^ Some sources erroneously state Wolfe was born in Sacramento, but the California Birth Index lists her birthplace as Placer County;[1] Sacramento is located in Sacramento County, not Placer County. Furthermore, a 2015 profile on Wolfe from a Sacramento online magazine states she is from Roseville, which is located in Placer County.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Chelsea Joy Wolfe was born on November 14, 1983, in Placer County, California". The California Birth Index. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  2. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe announces new album, Abyss, premieres "Iron Moon" – listen". Consequence of Sound.
  3. ^ Manning, Erin (August 7, 2015). "Album Review: Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  4. ^ Phares, Heather. "Chelsea Wolfe – Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  5. ^ Vanairsdale, S.T. (September 2015). "Through the Glass Darkly". Sactown Mag. Archived from the original on April 30, 2020.
  6. ^ "Interview: Chelsea Wolfe on 'Pain is Beauty'". Death and Taxes. September 20, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  7. ^ "Video interview with "Indie-eye network"".
  8. ^ a b "Chelsea Wolfe: In Search of Brutal Honesty". Revolver. August 31, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "Interview with 'The Writing Disorder'".
  10. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe". Matador Review. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "Thundering Haze • Chelsea Wolfe Parts the Veil on Sixth Studio Album, Hiss Spun". Submerge Magazine. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  12. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe May Be Your Goth Queen, But She Doesn't Consider Her Music Dark". Galore. August 26, 2015. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  13. ^ Moore, Jonathan. "Chelsea Wolfe interviewed by Nero Journal". Sargent House. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Bugbee, Tim (October 8, 2012). "Chelsea Wolfe on LA's Strange Darkness And Her Dark, Deep Secret". Prefix Mag. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  15. ^ Wolfe, Chelsea (November 4, 2014). "Entrevista Chelsea Wolfe" (Interview). Interviewed by iDS Imagem do Som. Portugal. Video on YouTube.
  16. ^ "The Grime & The Glow". Chelsea Wolfe. December 28, 2010.
  17. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss In-Depth Review + Full Stream -". August 7, 2015.
  18. ^ "Ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalypsis/Apocalypse)". Chelsea Wolfe. August 23, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  19. ^ Raposa, David (October 20, 2011). "Chelsea Wolfe: Apokalypsis". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  20. ^ Patpatia, Sasha (August 25, 2011). "Chelsea Wolfe: Apokalypsis". CMJ. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
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  28. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe's bio".
  29. ^ a b "Song Premiere: Chelsea Wolfe, "The Way We Used To" : All Songs Considered Blog : NPR". July 28, 2012.
  30. ^ "Stream: Chelsea Wolfe, "Appalachia" : MP3/STREAMS : THE FADER". July 28, 2012.
  31. ^ "CHELSEA WOLFE Live at Roadburn LP pre-sale started. Artwork revealed!". August 15, 2012. Archived from the original on May 25, 2013. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
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  33. ^ "Pain is Beauty album trailer". June 3, 2013.
  34. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe / King Dude: "Be Free" | Tracks". Pitchfork. February 19, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  35. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Folkadelphia Session 5/31/2014, by Chelsea Wolfe". Folkadelphia.
  36. ^ Adams, Gregory (August 8, 2013). "Russian Circles Unveil 'Memorial,' Premiere New Track". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  37. ^ Blistein, Jon (September 13, 2013). "Russian Circles Brood on Meditative 'Memorial' – Song Premiere". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  38. ^ "Terrorizer Film Review: Chelsea Wolfe's "Lone" directed by Mark Pellington". Chelsea Wolfe. May 20, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  39. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe shares new song "Hypnos", announces North American tour – listen". February 29, 2016.
  40. ^ Pearce, Sheldon (March 22, 2016). "Chelsea Wolfe Wields Snakes in 'Hypnos' Video". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
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  42. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe - Tickets - The Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA - September 25th, 2015". Spaceland Presents.
  43. ^ "Myrkur Debuts "Måneblôt", Details New Album "Mareridt"". June 28, 2017.
  44. ^ Reed, Ryan (August 1, 2018). "Watch Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe Duet in Eerie 'Night People' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  45. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe". Retrieved September 24, 2019.
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  47. ^ a b Minsker, Evan (June 18, 2019). "Chelsea Wolfe Announces New Album Birth of Violence, Shares New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  48. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe & Jess Gowrie Form New Band Mrs. Piss, Announce Debut Album 'Self-Surgery', & Share First Songs: Listen". May 14, 2020. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  49. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Releases New Single 'Diana'". May 26, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  50. ^ Kelley, Kim (April 17, 2016). "Roadburn Day III: Blood Ceremony Soars, Tau Cross Roars, and Converge Goes Goth". Noisey. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  51. ^ Hartley, Tom (April 14, 2016). "Converge 'Blood Moon': The Hardcore Heavyweights Bring Their Tour To London". NME. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  52. ^ a b c d "Converge Announce More 'Blood Moon' Shows With Cave In & Chelsea Wolfe Members | – Metal And Hardcore News Plus Reviews And More". December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  53. ^ a b c Campbell, Karyn. "Q+A with Chelsea Wolfe (Issue No. 5)". The Work Magazine. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  54. ^ a b Crowe, Jessica (March 26, 2013). "Love Is What Remains: An Interview with Chelsea Wolfe". The Quietus. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  55. ^ Geslani, Michelle (July 26, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe unveils tense new song "Vex"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  56. ^ MacDonell, Allan. "Chelsea Wolfe". Issue Magazine. Retrieved September 12, 2017. Experimental musician Chelsea Wolfe ... has been noted for straddling various genres including electronic, folk and psychedelia.
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    "Chelsea Wolfe: Pain Is Beauty Album Review | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
    "Fear, Emptiness, Decibel: Doom Folk Chanteuse Chelsea Wolfe is the Subject of the Latest Converse x Decibel". MetalSucks. January 31, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
    "Chelsea Wolfe". Huck Magazine. November 21, 2013. Archived from the original on September 12, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  58. ^ Bulley, Jenny (August 12, 2013). "Chelsea Wolfe – We Hit A Wall". Mojo. Archived from the original on March 26, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  59. ^ a b c "The Writing Disorder – Views, Reviews and Interviews". Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  60. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe Talks Aaliyah and Sleep Paralysis". PAPERMAG. August 19, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  61. ^ "What Do You Think of When You Think of Goth? - Noisey Meets Chelsea Wolfe". Noisey - A Vice channel. November 15, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2016. when I think about gothic, I think about Joy Division, Siouxsie and the banshees and to be grouped in with that is not a bad thing
  62. ^ Mandel, Leah (October 17, 2017). "Chelsea Wolfe explains her 5 favorite metal albums". Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  63. ^ "Chelsea Wolfe: "Meine Musik ist nicht dunkel" - interview on Krone". Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  64. ^ Martin, Erin Lyndal. "The Rumpus Interview with Chelsea Wolfe". Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  65. ^ "CHELSEA WOLFE on Twitter: "FYI when I said I liked Ayn Rand many years ago I didn't know anything about what she stood for or what her books meant. I recant!"". Twitter. September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
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  67. ^ Chelsea Wolfe (December 14, 2012). "Indie Crooner Chelsea Wolfe Rocks Her Rad Goth-Glam Style". Refinery29. New York, NY. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  68. ^ Way, Mish Barber (July 28, 2015). "Chelsea Wolfe's New Album Is Pure Gothic California". i-D Magazine. London, UK. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  69. ^ Gulyan, Armine (September 13, 2019). "Chelsea Wolfe: The Modern American Poet". Flaunt Magazine. Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
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  71. ^ Roberts, Christopher (June 24, 2015). "Watch: Chelsea Wolfe - "Carrion Flowers" Video". Under the Radar. Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  72. ^ Chelsea Wolfe (August 14, 2017). "16 Psyche (Credits listed under the video)". Sargent House YouTube channel. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  73. ^ Chelsea Wolfe (August 14, 2019). "Be All Things". Sargent House YouTube channel. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  74. ^ Gore, Elizabeth (June 27, 2016). "Chelsea Wolfe: Dark Goddess". Doomed & Stoned. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  75. ^ a b c d "Chelsea Wolfe". August 26, 2012.

External links[edit]