American singer and songwriter Chelsea Wolfe has dialed up the doom in her latest album Hiss Spun – and she’s coming to the Regency Ballroom on Nov. 4. Released less than a month ago, Hiss Spun has already garnered rave reviews from fans and critics alike – and particularly if you have a thing for gothic folk music that’s heavily interlaced with electronic notes, you’ll love Hiss Spun. It wasn’t for nothing that Wolfe earned critical acclaim for several of her albums, including The Grime and the Glow (2010), Apokalypsis (2011), Pain Is Beauty (2013) and Abyss (2015).
Born in Roseville, California, and raised in Sacramento, Wolfe was exposed to music early on in her childhood. Her father, who was in a country band, had a studio at home that also served as Wolfe’s earliest recording venue. By the time she was nine, she had recorded quite a few numbers that were, in her own words, “basically Casio-based gothy R&B songs.” Eventually, she grew up being heavily influenced by several genres of music, including both Scandinavian folk music and black metal. These influences are reflected in her current work, which somehow brings together drone metal, gothic rock, folk and the kind of winsome doom you won’t find anywhere else.
If the collision of folk and metal isn’t quite enough breadth, Wolfe is also been a self-confessed devotee of rhythm and blues music – and it shows, in amongst the span of other artists whose works have shaped her into the phenomenal musician she is are Vladimir Vysotsky, Selda Bagcan, Nick Cave, Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt.
Wolfe has always maintained that despite her obvious inclination to gothic music, she prefers to not compartmentalize her compositions into one particular genre. As she put it in an interview with Jessica Crowe, “I’d rather be free to experiment and make the kind of art I want to make than be easy to define,” and that’s been clear right from her first wide release, The Grime and the Glow, which was recorded on her mother’s classical guitar with a portable eight-track. Even with such simple riggings, Wolfe manages to add a timeless touch to the composition. The guitar had a missing tuning peg, which meant the strings had to be tuned down. Eventually, Wolfe made it a style that was characteristic of her compositions and carried on this practice for her future albums as well.
To promote and support her first two albums, Wolfe toured North America and Europe – wearing a right-on-brand veil to cover initial stage fright. The honesty has lasted longer than the image, and with the release of Hiss Spun, she’s reaching even larger audiences. Veils are optional, and she’s got a well-tuned guitar, and the sound is mellower, richer and more haunting; but the unique, evanescent character of Wolfe’s music is still strong. She’s coming to The Regency Ballroom on November 4th as part of her current national tour, and she can be found on Soundcloud, Youtube, Google Music, iTunes and anywhere else you find good things to listen to.
Chelsea Wolfe plays The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, CA on Saturday, November 4, 2017, 7:00 PM