raised on a forest in merrill, wisconsin, nika roza danilova had an early introduction to music, begging her parents to work with a vocal coach at only 7 or 8 years old. based on her small town roots, you might not expect her sound to be so industrial, but as zola jesus, her performance, personal, and musical style is as modern-goth-urban as they come.
named after jesus christ and french writer emile zola, her stage name allows her to portray something of an alter ego. her sound is a contemporary combo of noise, goth, and – let’s face it – pop. many of her songs are anthemic with huge sweeping swells that no doubt take influence from her beginnings as an opera vocalist, and danilova calls singing her escape from anxiety, and social and psychological difficulties. never shying away from experimentalism, her look is completely dark and weird, and her music follows suit. right now, i’m hooked on her older tunes like the above “night,” and some of her first releases like “sea talk,” but her new tracks “dangerous days,” and “go (blank sea)” are just as darkly addictive and crushingly strange.
also, can we talk about the editorial she worked on with the team at totokaelo? hopefully she gets weird when i see her live berghain next month.
++ photo by brent goldsmith for totokaelo