Intervista con Chelsea Wolfe

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Intervista con Chelsea Wolfe

La sua musica inquieta. Sulla copertina del nuovo disco è ritratta con gli occhi completamente bianchi bistrati di nero, come una figura demoniaca, una menade, una strega. L’album si chiama Ἀποκάλυψις. La prima traccia “Primal/Carnal”, ti accoglie in 24 secondi con un grido spettrale che si confonde con un molto poco rassicurante grugnito – il verso di un animale che la legge di Mosè classifica come impuro nel Levitico. Se prosegui nell’ascolto troverai presto una traccia molto bella intitolata per l’appunto “Moses”. Ma troverai tanto altro: demoni, foreste, mari immensi, frasi ripetute come mantra, echi, riverberi. A differenza di quanto si possa pensare però il mondo di Chelsea Wolfe non è fatto solo di tenebre. Originaria della parte Nord della California – le cui montagne sono molto meno conosciute rispetto alle assolate spiagge della costa sud – adesso abita a Los Angeles e le piace un sacco. Non immaginatevela quindi come un’oscuro personaggio ritirato dal resto del mondo. L’abbiamo contattata e si è rivelata una persona genuina e appassionata. Un’attenta osservatrice della vita che raccoglie l’ispirazione per la sua musica da varie forme d’arte ma anche dalla riflessione, dalla filosofia, dalla letteratura, dalla religione. Questo è quello che ci ha raccontato.

P: You were just a child when you got into music at the recording studios of your father, a country musician. Your compositions had been confined in there for a long time. Do you remember when you first felt the need to make them known?

C: Well, the recordings from my childhood are still not known to the world, they are hiding on a altcassette tape somewhere! But I continued to write songs from a young age, and never showed anyone my music until I was in my early 20’s. I didn’t like the music I was making at the time but I had this deeply rooted yearning to find my own voice and my own path, and the people around me encouraged me to keep going, so I did. I stepped back for a while finally in like 2008-2009 and was re-inspired by a performance art and music tour I went on through some interesting and unconventional industrial spaces in Europe in 2009. When I came home to California I took my 8-track around to different places and began writing and recording again in the way that was most natural to me. It was a fresh start but also a return to my roots.

P: The Grime and the Glow – which was released in December 2010 – is usually considered your debut album. In fact in 2006 you recorded Mistake in Parting: since when you started working with Pendu Sound Recordings you feel you began a new “musical life”?

C: I started answering this in the previous answer.. yes.. I made that “Mistake” album with a group of producers in the town I’m from.. Unfortunately, I was naive then and allowed others tell me where to go with my songs and which songs to use for the album. I didn’t like the songs or the album and it was not a good time in my life. I typically don’t have a desire to talk about that time or that album, but maybe it’s good to clarify that while that album was made under the same name, it was a different project, and really a different lifetime. But it’s impossible to erase these things in the internet era!

P: You were born in California, a state we Europeans usually associate with sunny and hot weather: does it have a dark side? How much did it influence your lyrics?

C: California is a very diverse state and has much to offer in the area of nature. I am from the northern part of the state where there is mountains, giant trees and even snow. The darkness of nature in any sense has always intrigued me and inspired me. And also the realities of humanity. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I can understand why the world associates California with sunshine and beach weather. It is kind of like that here, actually! But it’s also a diverse place, within this spread-out city. I love it here. Even the sun has a darkness to it. Something so bright and burning can’t be safe. It’s dangerous and also exciting and beautiful and strange.

P: You have passion for video making and your music is really suggestive from the visual point of view. How much the visual arts do stimulate your imagination?

C: I did go through a period where I was making my own music videos and I think I wanted to really be altin control of my own image at first and honestly, there was no one else interested in making videos for me! I also made music videos for friends’ bands out of a curiosity for editing and trying to create a small story. Something new. I like to experiment in new realms of art when I can and when I have the inspiration and means to. I’ll probably foray back into the world of video again soon, when the right inspiration strikes.. but it’s not my first art form so it’s not my strongest passion. In general though, visuals very much inspire my music, and visual aesthetic is something important to me and also a lot of fun. I really enjoy fabrics and fashion and recently had the chance to wear some of my favorite designers for a video session. AF Vandevorst, Iris van Herpen, Alexander McQueen, Marni, Logan Neitzel, Sally LaPointe, Mordekai by Ken Borochov. I find a lot of inspiration in film as well.. the moods, emotion, landscape, starkness. Ingmar Bergman, John Waters, Lars Von Trier, David Lynch.

P: What inspired the lyrics of The Grime and the Glow and Apokalypsis?

C: The titles of both albums sum them up very well. The Grime and the Glow.. I was reading Celine’s Death on the Installment Plan and thinking about the contrasts within everyday life on a very macro level. Like thinking about viewing the world as a whole and how at the same moment one person is having a happy moment and beautiful day, another is having an equally painful and melancholy time somewhere else. Maybe across the world. Maybe in the same building. Living in a small apartment made me think about things like that. These boxes full of humans having completely contrasting life experiences. The micro and the macro. Apokalypsis takes more of a grand vision. Thinking about epiphany and revelation and having moments of clarity and truth. Thinking about the ends of things. The end of an era, a life, a road, a train track. That’s what the Greek word Ἀποκάλυψις means – apocalypse and revelation. The songs on the album are inspired by these themes.

P: The track “Moses” was recently chosen to accompany Richard Philips’ video featuring Sasha Gray as a protagonist. Would you like to write a soundtrack for a movie?

C: It’s a dream of mine to work on a film score or to contribute a song to a movie’s soundtrack, yes.

P: How do you conceive spirituality?

C: As a personal thing. That the spiritual realm is as real as the physical realm and it’s something each person must come to terms with in their own way. For me, I have inspirations from different religions and religious aesthetics. I don’t attend church but I have faith and a spiritual existence.

P: Can you describe your life through three albums?

C: I can’t tell if you’re asking about if I can describe my life through three albums I’m making, to which I think the answer would be no, or if you’re asking if I can do this through three albums made by other people? So.. I’m not very good at listing things like that but maybe instead I can list three songs that describe my heart.
1 Vladimir Vysotsky – “Capricious Horses
2 Selda Bagcan – “Ayaginda Kundura
3 Gorgoroth – “Of Ice and Movement

P: Are you already working on new material?

C: Yes! I go through periods of writer’s block that feel very uncomfortable and melancholy, and it always ends and I’m always surprised! I don’t know why. But I am very inspired right now and have a lot of clarity so I’m writing songs for my next album which I’ll record and (hopefully) release in 2012.

P: What do you think of 12/21/12?

C: I look forward to things like that – iconic dates. It’s very intriguing. I have a close friend, Javier, who is very well-versed in Mayan culture (even his daughter is named “Maya”) and he doesn’t believe that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012 as many others do, so I have an inclination to believe him. I do think that the Mayans were a very special people though and that it represents something special.. Maybe a new awakening, a new alignment of the universe, a physical change in the earth, maybe even a new color will be discovered or a new part of our brains will be opened up.

Le sirene degli anni Duemila hanno voci che seducono da un mare saturo di riverberi ed echi dalla funzione ipnotizzante. Se avete navigato sulle rotte di Zola Jesus, EMA, Esben and the Witch, Austra, virate sicuri verso Chelsea Wolfe. Ha impiegato un po’ di tempo per delineare la sua personalità artistica, ma adesso sappiamo con chi abbiamo a che fare. Due album in meno di un anno; Apokalypsis esce infatti a 9 mesi dal precedente The Grime and the Glow e ne continua il discorso. L’atmosfera è sempre nera come la pece, tra suoni distorti, sperimentazioni e suggestioni spettrali. L’attitudine è un po’ ripulita rispetto all’approccio lo-fi del precedente LP, basta ascoltare i brani “Demons” e “Moses” presenti in entrambi i dischi con arrangiamenti leggermente diversi. L’ascolto è intrigante e multidimensionale: non solo synth ed effettistica, ma anche chitarre che non disdegnano un’attitudine heavy, ritmiche incalzanti e in primo piano una voce versatile e tormentata, se da angeli o demoni non è chiaro (riportando un’espressione della sua biografia ufficiale che rende bene l’idea). La metà dei brani consiste in composizioni d’atmosfera, ethereal wave percorsa da una certa tensione drammatica, accompagnamento per testi desolanti e intensi (“Tracks (Tall Bodies)”, “The Wasteland”, “Movie Screen”). Un disco che nel suo insieme suona quasi come un concept album, da ascoltare dell’inizio alla fine. Un lavoro curato nel quale tutto è esattamente al suo posto, persino le tante voci ed i molteplici rumori dalla misteriosa provenienza che condiscono il fascino nero di ogni brano. Se cercate melodie rassicuranti tenetevi alla larga, altrimenti schiacciate play e lasciatevi travolgere.