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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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  • HumbleGold

    say they want the old zola, buy her old album

    yesterday evening Reply
  • Vikie_Moonlight

    New album is fucking awesome!

    Yesterday 8:33pm Reply
  • charlie_charl

    "gone completely over so many people's heads" -- No, it didn't go over anyone's heads. It failed to resonate emotionally in the same way prior records of hers have. "Accessible" often means "compromised" and this is a case of just that. It doesn't hold up next to her prior efforts and it's clear from her own admission that she intended to make a pop record. Longtime fans are displeased and rightfully so. Essentially saying 'you just don't get it' is a lazy and overused defense of poorly executed art.

    Yesterday 6:25pm Reply
  • NabilBashir

    It truly is sad to see that Taiga has gone completely over so many people's heads. [2] RIGHT! I.just.can't.even. Zola's own words on 'Taiga': "The music on the record is massive, with big brass and beats, crystal clear vocals…It's the most accessible music I've ever made, but also the most earnest and passionate. I gave everything for this record, more than ever before."

    Yesterday 5:38pm Reply
  • HumbleGold

    i like it

    23 Oct 5:27am Reply
  • Deadr0ckSJ

    It truly is sad to see that Taiga has gone completely over so many people's heads.

    23 Oct 2:37am Reply
  • nagchomper

    I love everything Zola Jesus does.

    23 Oct 1:38am Reply
  • nice_face

    it could be called Zola Cheesus BECAUSE HER NEW ALBUM IS SO CHEESY.

    22 Oct 8:52pm Reply
  • nice_face

    The new album is just dsappointing to say the least. She lures the alternative crowd because of her noisey past, however her new release is unfortunately just plain pop. Honestly, she could have discontinued Zola Jesus not to stain its good name and start off with a new pop band.

    22 Oct 8:51pm Reply
  • Nekrovoor

    I like Taiga more now, but tracks 7 to 9 are definetly fillers. I think I like when more 'obscure' artists try to approach this more poppy experiment. Her vocals on Hunger recall me a lot of Rihanna.

    21 Oct 6:09am Reply
  • 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.

    20 Oct 11:06pm 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.

    20 Oct 9:01pm Reply

    taiga queen <3

    20 Oct 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.

    20 Oct 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.

    19 Oct 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
  • All 1800 shouts

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