Los Angeles songstress Chelsea Wolfe may be best known for her haunting vocals and dark, atmospheric sound, but it’s a penchant for diversity that keeps her fans intrigued. Just back from a European tour for her fourth studio album Pain is Beauty, the artist is riding high on the success of her recent film collaboration with director Mark Pellington, entitled Lone (2014).
Wolfe’s latest video, for her single “Feral Love”—which was featured in the Season 4 trailer for Game of Thrones—is actually an excerpt from Lone. She and Pellington, perhaps best known for his work with bands like U2, Nine Inch Nails, and directing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” pulled all the visuals from the film.
“You’ll see all those images that flash throughout ‘Feral Love’ expanded upon in the film,” said Wolfe. “Originally we were just going to do a music video, and the project expanded from there.”
Below, Wolfe tells us why she loves touring, what inspires her, and why she idealizes Depression era art and music.
How was the tour? Any highlights?
CHELSEA WOLFE: It was really good, a lot of intense shows, great audiences. My favorite show was Off Festival in Poland. We were supposed to play last year, and I had to cancel at the last minute. I don’t like canceling, so I was really grateful that they let me make it up to them this year, and it was so worth it. We played to 8,000 people on what they called the “Forest Stage,” surrounded by trees. It was really special to feel so welcomed in a setting like that.
That sounds amazing. Do you miss touring?
CW: I love touring. It’s so refreshing to meet so many new people and see new places. But I was glad to get home from this one because I’d been working on my new album. I had all these ideas, and I was so eager to get back and work on it. Right now, I’ve just been holed up writing at home. It’s been great to be a hermit again for a while, which is my natural inclination anyway.
You’ve said the state of the world was your main inspiration and content source for songwriting. Is this still true?
CW: I’m still inspired by the way the world is, yes. If you really stop and think about it for a second, things are pretty bad. In certain parts of America, we have it easy, so it’s easy to forget. We are all escapists, looking for ways to deal and get on with our own lives. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I try to force myself to remember. That’s usually what songwriting is for me, a way for me to put things in place. If a song can help someone else cope with a difficult situation, even just by listening to it, crying and letting it out, that’s great. Crying can be healing. I think it’s a good thing sometimes.
Agreed. Can you talk about Lone?
CW: The film is about not being able to tell if your memories are real or not, which is a constant thing for me because I have sleep and memory issues. We would meet a lot to come up with visions, ideas, and casting, but once we were on set and filming, it was obvious that Mark was in control; it was his world as the director.
Can you describe the look and feel of the film?
CW: I wanted there to be found footage of natural disasters and intense nature, and discovered that cutting found footage with original footage is something Mark is really great at—it’s part of his style. It all comes together in this frantic and surreal way.
You’ve cited the films of Ingmar Bergman as an influence on your aesthetic. What draws you to him so much?
CW: I loved The Seventh Seal when I was young, and felt drawn to the stark and beautiful way he presented the world… the mix of reality and surreality. Visually, the dark contrast and his use of lighting and shadow is something I’ve been continually inspired by over the years.
Are there any other directors or films that you draw inspiration from when writing and recording?
CW: Some favorites are Werner Herzog and Lars von Trier. Lars von Trier’s films are almost hard to watch. They are very disturbing, which is why I like him, but at the same time it took me three tries to get through Antichrist. I had to turn it off. Yet it’s so beautifully shot—the way it turns out is so amazing. Certain films will slay me. More recently, Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer messed me up.
You said in a previous interview that you were never young. There is a scene film called Daisies, where one of the characters tells one of the protagonists: “You don’t belong to this century.” Do you feel that you don’t belong to this century, or there is a time period that most reflects you?
CW: Well, I don’t think that it reflects me necessarily, more so my ideals about art. There was a long time where I was obsessed with the Depression era. When things are that dire and dark, and you’re not sure where the next meal is going to come from, music and art become so much more important because it’s something that can heal you, something that can distract you. In that way I idealize that era a little bit and think of it maybe as a more simple time for music, because it was really just all about honesty, and writing songs that hit people in the heart.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIE NAHON (BLACK AND WHITE); NICK FANCHER (CLOSE UP)
—CHAD SAVILLE with IOULIA BOREALIS
Chad Saville is the founder and editor of Beautiful Savage magazine, an independent print glossy devoted to art, fashion, and the creative lifestyle. LA Confidential x Beautiful Savage is a creative partnership between LA’s premier luxury magazine and Beautiful Savage. For more information, visit beautifulsavage.com or @chadsaville.