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Chelsea Wolfe Looks Into The ‘Abyss’ Of Her Mind And Music

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Photo: Chelsea Wolfe press
Chelsea Wolfe

Dreams are a touchy subject for singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe.

She suffers from sleep paralysis -- which means sometimes she has hallucinations when she wakes up. For Wolfe, it’s like a scene from a horror movie.

"My eyes are open but the figures from my dreams are still there," Wolfe says. "'Shadow people' as a lot of people call it. They're usually moving towards me, so it's just a really interesting way to wake up to start the day. It gives you an anxiety that I think naturally floats into my music."

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Wolfe recently became fascinated by the writings of psychologist Carl Jung -- someone who had a lot to say about dreams. Wolfe found his work so powerful she named her latest album after one of Jung’s books. It’s called “Abyss,” and it's out now.

She says one thing Jung wrote really inspired her.

“He described one dream with the line: 'I let myself drop into my own mind.' For me that was such a visual statement. That's where the concept of abyss came from, is thinking of your own mind as this abyss and everything outside ourselves in the universe as this unending abyss."

Wolfe has suffered from sleep paralysis most of her life. On "Abyss," she used her music to address her disorder. But doing so was a physically demanding experience.

"I was able to let go and let the songs come as they came. And come out of the sessions physically shaking because it was such an intense experience."

“Abyss” is Wolfe’s heaviest album to date. She felt inspired by her tourmates Queens of the Stone Age and metal group Russian Circles. But also, she turned up the volume to help keep her sanity while recording it in the secluded California desert.

"The quiet was disconcerting at first. So I naturally started making these really loud heavy songs and having band practices that were so insanely loud. I’m sure my neighbors all hate me by now."

Wolfe tours consistently -- but she’s sleeping more soundly than in the past, thanks to the curtains on her tour bus which keep her bunk nice and dark. She likens it to a "crypt."

And her dreams? They’re not as nightmarish as on past tours. In fact, she’s getting creative ideas from them.

"My bandmates and I have all been dreaming about each other and all been having really musical dreams where we’re switching instruments. The night before last I was dreaming that our guitar player was playing drums and our tour manager was dreaming that I was playing drums. It was this weird switching around of instruments."