Chelsea Wolfe's Dark Dream Explorations Continue With "Hypnos"

On April 1, Chelsea Wolfe released a seven-inch single for “Hypnos," a song that invokes the name of the Greek personification of sleep. It was written as a kind of ode, a love song, that Wolfe says is set in a dark dream. This is the way that Wolfe comes to terms with her own struggles with sleep issues and dreams, sometimes manifested as sleep paralysis. In writing new material, Wolfe revisited older methods of creating her music, which has been described as "drone-metal-art-folk."

“I started out in music years ago just recording my voice and guitar and life samples on my eight-track, and deep down, I still love the sound of those recordings the best,” Wolfe says. “I think they’re just very intimate in how crude they are, and there’s a lot of one-take stuff there, too. The 'Hypnos' demo was a sort of return to that style. I sent it to my friend Steven [Ellison, Flying Lotus], and he was like, 'Just release this version!' I didn’t really want to redo it, either, but for this album, I made an effort to try and record things hi-fi while still keeping an intimate feeling. I was living in a shitty hotel off the highway for a month in Dallas and spent my days at John Congleton’s studio working on the recordings. The energy of the whole situation lent itself to raw emotions, feeling kind of broken down and giving everything I had to the songs.”

The video for “Hypnos” is Wolfe's most haunting and symbolically rich visual representation of her work to date. It is reminiscent of the films The Ring and Videodrome. It's grainy, with distorted visuals – like watching a long-lost supernatural classic on an old television set getting a weak signal from a television station far away. The prominent imagery of the snake as a symbol for the unconscious mind, ancient spiritual traditions and looking at life outside the cycle of time, represented by the Ouroboros, gives the video a kind of mythological dimension, rendering it a sort of Jungian horror noir.

“That video came about after photographers Kristin Cofer and Muted Fawn asked me to do a photo shoot with them,” reveals Wolfe. “I had been wanting to do something with the snakes I had in my 2011 music video for 'Mer' with Zev Deans, so I contacted the rescue center again and organized for them to bring some snakes to the shoot to hang with. Once Sargent House and I decided to release the extra Abyss recordings of 'Hypnos' [seven-inch with] 'Flame' as a B-side, I figured we might as well use the opportunity of the photo shoot to take some video footage for the release as well. I envisioned something really minimal: a dark dream, focusing on the snakes’ movement against skin, and having them represent a lover or child. But then my friend and hairstylist for the shoot, Ericka Verrett’s husband, Ricky, came and surprised us with a bunch of old cameras, TVs and video feedback equipment and offered to set that up, so we just tried it out, and it added an extra layer of strangeness that I fell in love with while editing the video with Ben Chisholm. We also used some footage that Jenni Hensler, Kristin Cofer and I had taken together in the past year that felt related. I guided the video, for sure, but it was a big collaboration between lots of artists and friends in the end.”

Chelsea Wolfe with A Dead Forest Index, Wednesday, May 25, Gothic Theatre, 303-789-9206.