Ex-Delain vocalist Charlotte Wessels: "It doesn’t have to be a f***ing priority to look a certain way all the time"

Charlotte Wessels
(Image credit: Press/Charlotte Wessels)

Charlotte Wessels is one of symphonic metal's leading lights, her powerhouse vocals and forthright personality helping put Delain on the map. But in February 2021, Delain's members announced their departure from the group, leaving keyboardist - and founder - Martijn Westerholt the only member left in the band and Wessels' future uncertain.

But, rather than ruminate on her losses, Wessels immediately pivoted to an equally-impressive solo career, releasing her debut Tales From Six Feet Under in 2021. With a sequel (Tales From Six Feet Under Volume II) out now and her solo live debut reuniting her with most of her former Delain colleagues, Hammer caught up with Charlotte to find out what the future holds... 

Metal Hammer line break

You’ve been releasing music on your Patreon for the past couple of years. Was it always the plan after leaving Delain to continue as a solo artist?

“When I started releasing music on Patreon, there was no talk of the band breaking up yet . I had these songs that were so different from Delain, and I wanted to have a place for them. If I hadn’t already had that platform when the band broke up, I wouldn’t have gotten it together that fast. I probably would have gone into a black hole because it wasn’t the greatest time. I was glad I could just say, ‘OK, this will become my full focus.’ It was really a safety net.”

You recently announced your band for your first live show as a solo artist. How’s that going?

“Today we’ve been rehearsing. We have our first gig at Tivoli [in Utrecht, the Netherlands] on October 23 – a double release show for Tales From Six Feet Under Volumes I and II. It’s a full set of 20-plus songs that have never been played by a band – I put it together by myself on a laptop with a bunch of plug-ins,so it has to be translated to humans. I play some things, but sometimes we go into songs and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Oh God, I hope I didn’t write something that requires three hands to play, or four, or five…!’”

What’s it been like playing with your former Delain bandmates Timo, Otto and Joey again?

“It’s always felt great playing with them and doing it again kind of feels like coming home.”

That sounds really nice. 

“Definitely! I was a bit scared in the beginning, because I thought if we were going to do something together again, it would be as a band. But then… I was nervous, because if you have a band, it can break up again. It might sound weird, but I was very honoured that the guys wanted to play my songs. That was really heartwarming.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the recent video you made for the track Afkicken? It’s so cinematic.

“I love folk horror, so I wanted it to have witchy, coven vibes. I wanted monsters,
I wanted to have a cult, I wanted to have dance – the costumes were directly inspired by [the 2018 remake of] Suspiria. I get taken in by a cult and they imprison me and shave my head.”

…Which you did for real. How did that come about?

“I’ve always been curious to know what that would be like, and when we were planning that end scene we thought, ‘How could we make me look really miserable?’ And I just blurted out, ‘We could cut all my hair off!’ Everyone laughed it off, but I was like, ‘No, for real!’ I did hesitate up until about two days before the shoot. I’m having my first proper haircut next week; maybe I’ll bleach it.” 

It looks really cool! What’s the reaction been like?

“Every post is like, ‘Please grow your hair back!’ I don’t mind – I think I look better with long hair too, but that’s not the point. It doesn’t have to be a fucking priority to look a certain way all the time. I didn’t go into it wanting to make a statement, but I did get something out of it in that sense, because nine times out of 10 now it’s not a priority for me to look conventionally ‘pretty’. 

It’s the same thing where I’ve been making symphonic metal for 16 years, and then because on Tales… there were some poppier songs, people got upset, like, ‘Don’t you like metal anymore?!’ Dude, I love pancakes, but don’t give them to me every day! A change is healthy and makes you appreciate what you got.”

You’ve been hanging out with Epica’s Simone Simons and Myrkur’s Amalie Bruun. What were you up to?

“We weren’t just hanging out, but I’m not allowed to tell you what we were doing. But I can tell you that it’s going to be fun!” 

Tales From Six Feet Under Vol II is out now via Napalm

Metal Hammer line break