Birth of Violence

Birth of Violence

After extensively touring her 2017 album Hiss Spun—the gothic-folk songwriter’s heaviest album to date—California-based Chelsea Wolfe felt herself burning out. “I just started to have this nagging feeling that I needed to take a break,” she tells Apple Music. “I was really starting to feel exhausted mentally and physically. I wanted to take some time to find my own place to call home and put that process of personal healing into this album.” The result, Birth of Violence, is a moving return to the delicate acoustic folk of her earliest releases. “I wrote the album at the beginning of that healing or awakening,” she says. “And I feel like I've opened up so much more since then. So I'm excited to write the next one.” Below, Wolfe discusses the stories behind each song on Birth of Violence. “The Mother Road” “The Mother Road is what John Steinbeck nicknamed Route 66 in Grapes of Wrath. There's a lot of parallels: road trips, the journey into the mind, the journey of life. It’s the beginning of my personal awakening, an incantation to bloom and grow. I wrote the chorus while laying on a concrete floor after the final show on tour, completely exhausted, finally listening to that inner voice saying I needed to take a break in order to heal myself.” “American Darkness” “I had this scene in my head of a war widow, alone in her cabin, dancing with the ghost of her lost partner, overtaken by loneliness and isolation. In a way, it’s a love story. The end of the song alludes to an older couple who've been together for a really long time. You hear stories of one of them passing over and the other passing soon after, like Johnny Cash, who died four months after his love, June Carter Cash.” “Birth of Violence” “The word 'violence' is a very beautiful word for something so ugly, but this violence for me is something more subtle and poetic, like a field of bright orange poppies in violent bloom. I think of a woman fighting back against the brutality that she and her ancestors had to deal with since the dawn of time. The chorus is a call to fight together and not against one another.” “Deranged for Rock & Roll” “I think of this as my love song to rock 'n’ roll. Music is what I was put here to do, and I feel that I belong to it, and it to me. The line ‘Drink my dreams and sell my soul’ came from a mystic once telling me not to drink the water by my bedside, because if there's some left in the morning, your dreams from the night gather there. But I always drink it because my dreams are such a source of inspiration for me.” “Be All Things” “I had the character of a Victorian woman in mind. She was a warrior trapped in the embodiment of a maiden, trying to reconcile the soft and the strong. Much of this album is about viewing the world as a woman and finding that warrior or goddess side of myself. Some days I just want to just stay quiet and reach my roots to the earth, and some days I wanna spring up from the ground and be all things.” “Erde" “It's the root word for earth; it roughly translates to ‘all dirt.’ I'm singing about the strangeness of the modern world and of our past, and the things we do before we return to the dirt. Musically, it's meant to feel very ritualistic and primal, very connected to the earth. You can barely hear it in the background, but I’m listing names of poisonous and medicinal plants. Almost like I'm summoning them.” “When Anger Turns to Honey” “I feel like this is one of the more straightforward songs lyrically. It's really just seeking a moment of understanding in a culture of anonymous, reactionary unkindness. When someone is very angry, the source of that anger is usually a deep and unresolved pain within them, so this is trying to understand that and view it in a different way.” “Dirt Universe” “This song is personal and autobiographical, even though it's very cryptic. Someone once called me the ‘daughter of sorrow,’ and at the time I took offense to it, but I began to wear the title with pride. I’ve had an understanding of the darker side of the world since I was a kid, and I think it’s led me to where I am now as a songwriter. My songs are an attempt to translate sorrow into strength. You first have to work through the shadows in order to find lightness within yourself.” “Little Grave” “It was a really difficult song that came to me after news of yet another school shooting. I wrote it from the perspective of a child lost in the shooting but also from the perspective of their parent who has to wake up every sunrise and try to fall asleep every sunset dealing with that loss and that void of their child.” “Preface to a Dream Play” “A Dream Play was written by a Swedish playwright, August Strindberg, following a near psychotic episode. In the preface, Strindberg explained that the characters split, double, multiply, dissolve, and merge, but one consciousness rules them all. The dreamers sleep, the liberator tortures. As someone who has dealt with sleep paralysis and insomnia my whole life, I related to that.” “Highway" “I really wanted to take a stab at the classic American on-the-road song. Like Jackson Browne’s ‘The Road’ or Bob Seger's 'Turn the Page.’ 'Highway' is my interpretation of those sleepless late nights, missing loved ones, blinding stage lights, and the beauty and chaos of it all. The lure of the road, even when it drives you mad.” “The Storm” “Rain and thunder sounds are so comforting to me. I'll find recordings of storms and put them on when I can’t sleep. Much of this album was recorded in the winter and it was snowing a lot. But as spring came, the sky really opened up and there were a lot of intense storms that would echo through the canyon. So I put a microphone on the porch to capture one of them. I wanted to have a peaceful sound at the end of the album. To take a moment and reflect before it's over.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada