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Zola Jesus


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Merrill, Wisconsin, USA (2008 – present)

Zola Jesus is the stage name of Russian-American Nika Roza Danilova (born 11 April 1989 in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Merrill, Wisconsin, USA). Her music style combines , , , , and influences.

Nika Roza Danilova was raised in Merrill, Wisconsin, on over 100 acres of forest. Danilova started singing early on, buying voice lesson tapes and opera sheet music at the age of 7; soon she began working with a vocal coach. It was not her parents’ idea: “I begged them to do it. For some reason, I really wanted to sing opera even though I wasn’t really exposed to it as a kid. I think my little baby toddler mind heard some opera song and then became fixated on how powerful it sounded,” she later remembered. Danilova started performing opera when she was 10 years old, but experienced serious psychological difficulties. “I would too often lose my voice before performances due to anxiety, and was so hard on myself. I would beat myself up about any imperfections or flaws in my voice. I was such a perfectionist, and my voice was still so young so it couldn’t do everything I wanted it to, and I resented myself for that. But since performing as Zola Jesus it’s been getting easier,” she later recalled.

In her teens, Danilova started to experiment in a more rock-orientated format. By naming her alter ego after Jesus Christ and the French writer Émile Zola she said she consciously wanted to alienate peers. “It worked perfectly – a lot of people wouldn’t even say Zola Jesus because they thought it was sacrilegious”, she said in an interview.


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  • danwramrich

    I've been watching all live performances from youtube and I stand up to the idea that concerts usually show another perpection to the song. Indeed. I can understand now why Nika loves Hunger which formely proved to be one my least favorites. Hunger owns a great energy and Nika sings it beautifully. Also the stage aesthetic works nicely with the songs. One point I have to state by this moment is that she's somewhat skimpy with her voice. She visibly left that way of singing and only brings her inner voice every now and again which I'm not sure yet if I like it or not. To notice that you can watch the latest video of Vessel and compare it to one of 2011.

    yesterday evening Reply
  • charlie_charl

    Just saw Zola live and I am sad to say that I left the show terribly disappointed. It seems that she has embraced pop to an extent that R&B-infused vocal runs were appearing in songs. Even her body language was screaming Beyonce or Rihanna. It was bizarre, to say the least. Her sense of dynamics is completely in line with current pop sensibilities - that is, it's a maximalist approach to everything. Subtlety, surprise, danger - none of this was a part of the show. It is a full on sensory assault in the worst possible way. And it was excruciatingly boring. It seems Zola is desperately looking for mainstream success. And more power to her. I just won't be along on this ride. Consider me a former fan. Also, Taiga is a very poor release.

    yesterday evening Reply

    taiga queen <3

    Yesterday 9:06am Reply
  • johnonymous

    I honest to god think that Taiga is her most realized work yet. The Spoils will always be number one for me, I just have a very sentimental attachment to that one. However, Taiga is in a close second in my book. I love it to pieces.

    Yesterday 4:01am Reply
  • CookiePolice

    even though I'm a huge fan of Zola and appreciate her aim to improve and evolve as an artist I have to admit that the first impression of Taiga was very underwhelming. less dramatic, less atmospheric and more focused on clear vocals and lyrics than the previous albums. it took me some time to get used to the new sound she's been exploring with on this album but now I'm glad Taiga is the way it is. I actually hoped for a sci-fi inspired industrial album but in my opinion the natural vibe and the brass is flattering to her voice in the same way as her old sound. not to mention that Hollow and It's Not Over are definitely one of her best songs. for anyone who's having problems with getting into Taiga I can recommend to listen to it when being on the road and check her Spotify album commentary as well.

    Yesterday 1:26pm Reply
  • AlanisParodi pllllllsssssssssssss

    18 Oct 5:04pm Reply
  • fillingthisvoid

    Definitely a contender for album of the year!

    15 Oct 3:29pm Reply
  • ThomKa85

    Taiga is fucking excellent! <3 [2]

    13 Oct 8:41pm Reply
  • JaylirS

    Lawless is a gem

    13 Oct 11:55am Reply
  • Rodwen

    she also looked a lot hotter as a blonde

    12 Oct 10:11am Reply
  • Rodwen

    new album's trying too hard

    12 Oct 10:08am Reply
  • GazGod

    Impressed with Taiga. Really great pop music! Love the synthetic horns on 'Hunger'.

    11 Oct 12:15pm Reply
  • cabfedhig

    taiga sounds tearfully dull. but glad she gets so many listens.

    10 Oct 9:02pm Reply
  • music-o-maniac

    Go, Lawless - I think these are the best on the record. Actually the album lacks a piano song, these seem the most captivating in her older stuff.

    10 Oct 7:40pm Reply
  • Zeldeiro

    It's a great production indeed

    10 Oct 4:27am Reply
  • finalesfunkeln

    Those fake horns and that horrible vocal mixing is not what i'd call excellent production but what do i know ?

    9 Oct 7:23pm Reply
  • UnsilentDeath

    Taiga is slightly dissapointing. Too sparkly and not enough dirt.

    9 Oct 1:54pm Reply
  • PegasusKukl

    I have mixed feelings about Taiga. Excelent production but not "soul". Too much polished, too much perfect but not much soul.

    9 Oct 4:35am Reply
  • bikerooh

    like the new album but miss lo-fi zola.

    8 Oct 11:03pm Reply
  • epicmeme

    valusia is her masterpiece

    8 Oct 9:29pm Reply
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