Described as the lost daughter of Leonard Cohen with a voice like Margot Timmons from The Cowboy Junkies, Wolf Larsen has arrived on the scene much the same as Cohen did - a late bloomer in her early thirties, both a writer and a poet, with an offering of searing poem-songs. The music of her debut record Quiet at the Kitchen Door is at once warm and vulnerable, intelligent and transporting - and profoundly soothing. It is the record that will live in your CD changer for months.
Known for an arresting live performance, Wolf Larsen has become famous for bringing any noisy barroom to a standstill. With total focus, stillness and a gentle approach to playing her nylon string guitar, Larsen invites an audience to lean in closer and feel the quiet as a part of the fabric of her songs.
Her unusual name comes from her grandfather, Paul “Wolf” Larsen, for whom she was named. Quiet at the Kitchen Door opens with a poem written and read by her cousin Larsen Bowker, and it is an homage to the original Wolf Larsen. The original Wolf was a Nebraska man who rode the rails across the Depression beaten dustbowl as a young man looking for work. It was Bowker’s poem, specifically the lines, “Nothing left, but belief in possibility / and faith that everything important lay ahead,” that inspired modern-day Wolf, struggling under the weight of her own modern-day problems, to begin writing songs.
Her first solo public performance was a shaky rendition of “Chelsea Hotel #2,” at San Francisco’s famous Monday night open mic at The Hotel Utah. That was in February of 2009, and for a dedicated year after that, Wolf began attending the open mics weekly, working on expanding her repertoire from an exclusive stockpile of Cohen/Dylan/&Welch, transitioning to her own songs she had been working on at home.
As she began to meet more musicians, she started playing out, and grew more confident in the body of work she had amassed. Wanting to make a simple recording, she talked to her friend Nick Stargu, a talented musician and DIY engineer who had some home equipment,. They agreed the project shouldn’t take more than a month. Two violins, one cello, a viola, piano, standing bass, bell section, and any number of MIDI accents and additions later - the two realized a year had gone by, and this was no simple, acoustic record of stories and poem-songs.
But - despite the orchestral arrangements and sweeping soundscapes that characterize the Quiet at the Kitchen Door - most of the album was still recorded as it was written: sitting on the edge of Wolf’s bed, in her bedroom. The two recorded almost the entire album between their two tiny bedrooms in San Francisco, harvesting the strings and bass from friends over email, and the quality of the record is a testament to the range of possibilities available to the modern DIY musician.
Along these lines, Wolf believes strongly in the power of the independent musician. Declining offers from record labels, she’s opted instead to build her own team, using many of the new tools available to the DIYer, such as Bandcamp, Topspin, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube and StageIt to promote the record. While challenging, she says, this has given her the freedom to imagine and shape a trajectory for her career that is aligned not only with an aesthetic vision, but with her core beliefs - a combination that is notoriously difficult to hold onto as an artist who signs away creative and financial control.
For the release of her first record, Larsen is donating a significant portion of proceeds, as well as doing a substantial amount of campaigning and awareness raising, for an idea she truly believes in. The idea is called The Girl Effect, a Nike Foundation initiative that invests in the education of girls around the world. The idea is that if women are invested in at an early age, (which they are currently not - ¾ of all uneducated children in the world are girls) everything gets better. A family has a greater income to feed and keep it’s children healthy.
Larsen doesn’t want to wait until the end of her career to speak up for what she believes in. And she doesn’t want to say she’ll give money when she has enough, when she is famous enough, when she herself is secure enough.
When not playing music, Wolf is an author and advocate for women’s health around the world, and very passionate about this idea. Alongside UNESCO, The World Health Organization, USAID and a growing number of world leaders, Wolf believes that investing in the health, education and empowerment of girls is the best, fastest way to save the world.
Beginning with The Nike Foundations’s initiative and meme called The Girl Effect, Wolf is making a public investment on her Facebook page, as a way of raising awareness, getting people involved, and introducing people to organizations they might not have heard of otherwise. The Girl Effect, as a meme has been gaining incredible momentum in the last year, and Wolf is excited to commit herself and her art to build momentum behind this worthy idea.
The belief in possibility is exactly what so many girls around the world are missing, and Wolf is extremely passionate about lining up behind UNESCO, The World Health Organization and USAID starting with The Nike Foundation’s initiative called The Girl Effect.
The Girl Effect is a notion supported by both men and women that investing in girls, particularly in education and business development, is the best, fastest way to save the world. Alongside UNESCO, The World Health Organization, USAID, Ban Ki Moon, and Michelle Obama, Wolf believes in this idea passionately and has dedicated her record release to spreading this worthy meme around.
For more information on The Girl Effect, visit www.thegirleffect.org.
Wolf's release is 100% DIY and independent - so every purchase goes directly to the musicians, artists, and recipients of the wolf-community's investments in The Girl Effect.
To follow the project, where investments are made every other week, visit www.facebook.com/wolflarsenrecords