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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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  • thelivingjane

    So far, Taiga is my pick for album of the year. You've outdone yourself!

    6 hours ago Reply
  • MarcusLMosnter

    I agree with @charlie_charl, I really tried to get into the album, but I can't even listen to the album fully... The songs lacks so much emotion, her voice is overshadowed by the pop sounding and the production doesn't match her voice at all, everything sounds so out of place and wrong, it annoys me. She achieved what she wanted: a formulaic pop album for the mainstream audience, it's nice what she's trying to do (give to pop music meaningfull lyrics) but I don't like it... It just sounds souless and artificial

    yesterday evening Reply
  • TwilightIsMe

    Taiga is definitely her best album, it's even worth listening in comparing with her previous dull quasi intellectual musical efforts but not on the level with top pop albums of the year. But in any case it's a great pleasure to see how the artist progresses.

    yesterday evening Reply
  • trent576

    she was great in bristol!! :)

    Yesterday 9:38pm Reply
  • fluxed

    Brilliant live last night - would recommend going if you're in Europe.

    30 Oct 2:06pm Reply
  • neonemesis213

    Taiga is not bad, it´s just different.

    30 Oct 5:18am Reply
  • BM128

    Checked her out based solely on her performance on Jools. She's good.

    27 Oct 1:00am Reply
  • ShySquirrel

    Taiga isn't bad at all, but it seems like a different person made it. If someone gave me one of her previous albums and then the new one I think I would hardly guess that it's the same artist.

    26 Oct 10:08am Reply
  • HumbleGold

    say they want the old zola, buy her old album

    24 Oct 6:17pm Reply
  • Vikie_Moonlight

    New album is fucking awesome!

    23 Oct 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.

    23 Oct 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."

    23 Oct 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
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