By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
"She was always lumped in with these droney-ass bands," Pellow says of Wolfe's branding, citing the cover of Apokalypsis, which features a medieval-style photo of Wolfe with her eyeballs whited out. "I wanted to open the doors to people who would have written her off as creepy and scary, so they could hear the purity and uniqueness of her voice."
The pastoral love song "Flatlands," with its spare guitar and gentle string arrangement, made its way around the Internet via a video collaboration with Converse and Decibel magazine, setting the scene for the more electronic-oriented Pain Is Beauty. By the time the new album's single, "The Warden," hit Soundcloud in June, its industrial-clubby beat seemed like a natural expansion on Wolfe's varied sonic palette.
"I think about the lifespan of an artist," says Pellow, who represented film talent in New York City before moving to L.A. in the mid-2000s to build Sargent House around her personal passion for progressive rock bands like RX Bandits, These Arms Are Snakes and Hella. "It was, like, let's let a lot of people who don't listen to heavy music find out Chelsea's not that heavy. This way, down the road, she can do whatever she wants."
Sargent House sits at the edge of Elysian Park. The historic, Spanish-style mansion houses the label's offices, a small studio and a window-encased alcove used primarily as the performance space for "Glass Room Sessions," the series of live acoustic performance videos in which Wolfe was featured last year.
Pellow encourages a partylike atmosphere around creative and business collaboration. Tonight, the gathering includes in-house producer Chris Common, new signee Emma Ruth Rundle, Wolfe and her bandmate and co-producer Ben Chisholm. Wolfe and Chisholm chat about their recent video shoot with director Mark Pellington (who shot the iconic video for Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," among many others), before Wolfe ducks into the studio to sing on Rundle's upcoming album.
Wolfe at various times calls herself "shy," "not outgoing" and "a bit of a loner." She'll claim she isn't an L.A. artist, she isn't an anything artist, and she's never felt the need to fit into any scene. Here, at least, she seems at home, which might make it a bit easier to step into the limelight and face unknown heights of success and scrutiny.
"Life is really hard," she says. "You have to persevere."
It's not clear if she's talking about herself or the entire history of humanity. Maybe it's both.