Chelsea Wolfe Sits Down With BUST To Talk About Her New Album And Her New Wave Of Creativity

by Eliza C. Thompson

Between 2010 and 2019, Chelsea Wolfe was releasing a new studio album roughly every two years, with a few collaborative projects in between: including Self-Surgery, her 2020 record with Jess Gowrie as Mrs. Piss; Bloodmoon: I, her 2021 album with metalcore band Converge; and the soundtrack to Ti West’s 2022 horror film X, which she created with Tyler Bates. But thanks to the pandemic, it’s now been nearly five years since a proper Chelsea Wolfe album, and her devoted fans are ready to see what she’s been cooking. 

Part of the delay was logistical—it was simply hard to book studios as the world reopened post-COVID—but it was also partly because of changes Wolfe, 40, made in her personal life. About a year into the pandemic, she decided to get sober, and she says it changed the way she approaches her art. “That started a new wave of creativity for me as I was learning to be a sober person,” she explains. “I was using creative projects to relearn how to be myself and how to channel creative energy without any outside substances. Because I got sober during that time, [the pandemic] was actually a really good, fruitful, creative time for me. It allowed me to be a lot more present with what I was doing.”

Wolfe’s debut album, The Grime and the Glow, dropped in 2010, and over the next few years she established herself as the queen of goth-tinged folk rock. Her subsequent albums, however, have found her exploring nearly every corner of the musical universe: 2013’s Pain Is Beauty dabbled in industrial and psychedelia, while 2015’s Abyss and 2017’s Hiss Spun mined doom metal for inspiration. If her past albums felt like they could be divided into distinct eras, though, her new LP, She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She, sounds like a synthesis of her entire career thus far. “It does very much feel like a culmination of everything that I’ve experimented with, like the electronic and the folk and the rock and the heavy elements,” she says. “It also feels like that space between the old and the new.” 

“The new,” in this case, refers to several other major changes in Wolfe’s life. In addition to getting sober, she signed with a new record label, Loma Vista, after a decade with Sargent House. She also started working with a new producer, Dave Sitek, the TV on the Radio guitarist known for his work with indie icons Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bat for Lashes, and Santigold. “I felt a resonance with him,” she explains, “and he was excited about these songs and the weird direction they were taking, so I was just trusting that it was the right way to go.” 

Perhaps because of all that upheaval, She Reaches… feels more personal than anything Wolfe’s recorded before. “It’s strange, because this album is super personal, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable because the themes are also so universal,” she says, pointing to the track “Everything Turns Blue” as an example of a song where it felt like she was living her lyrics. “It’s about leaving a toxic relationship and learning to be on your own again,” she says. “As soon as I wrote that song, it became clear to me that I was in a toxic relationship of sorts. That was the catalyst for me eventually leaving that relationship. This album felt like such a teacher for me, like it was its own being. It kept calling out to me with these promises of a better future if I would just live out these songs and make some difficult but important decisions for myself.” 

Wolfe now feels like she’s in a “transitional, liminal place” after taking an ax to so many parts of her life, but she’s ready to see what’s next. “It very much feels like I’ve closed one big book of my life, but I’m not quite ready to open the next big one,” she says. “So, I’m just reading a novella in between.” 


You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.