– Zola Jesus is the stage name of Russian-American singer-songwriter Nika Roza Danilova.
– Born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1989.
– Sounds: mix of dark art pop, cinematic electronica, melodramatic classic music, theatrical goth and experimental rock.
– Key instrument: her phenomenal opera trained alto voice. She sang in opera’s from the age of 10.
– Albums: The Spoils (2009) – Stridulum II (2010) – Conatus (2011) – Versions (2013) and Taiga (2014). The five albums reflect her continuous musical journey in search of new musical landscapes.
Track ‘Vessel’ (from ‘Conatus’ album) is representative for her last albums…
‘Dangerous Days’ from new album ‘Taiga’ is a surprising electro-pop anthem with contagious thumping dance beats. Should be a global hit !
CONCERT – Botanique, Brussels – Nov. 14, 2014…
Warning: this is not a rock concert…
About midway the set my eyes caught a woman, mid thirties, near the stage with tears in her eyes.
Tears of intense tristesse as if she had lost a dear one recently. She uttered slowly the words of the song that Zola Jesus was singing. For a couple of seconds I could definitely see a gleam of redemption and comfort in her sad eyes.
Some critics say Nika Danilova makes cold music.
Cold music? I never saw someone crying and being that emotional at a gig and I’m going to concerts since I was old enough to hitchhike.
Ice Queen of the Taiga…
Yes, Zola Jesus may look ‘cold’, but then again she’s the ice queen of the frozen Taiga snow forests symbolised by a glowing iceberg on stage and yes, she dances at times like a voodoo priestess in deep trance.
But it’s clear that she's not some kind of weirdo but a higly talented and immensly emotional artist operating in another field than the traditional pop and rock one.
Her theatrical performance is not ‘out of this world’ but rather an invitation to join her spectacular journey. You can see and feel the connection between artist and fans. Symbolic for that is that she leaves the stage a one point to have a walk through the audience while still singing. After the last encore Nika Danilova is genuinely moved, with a smile from ear to ear, by the euphoric applause for Zola Jesus.
God save the queen… and the woman in tears !
(gig pics: JL)
Love this photo (by Jolie Ruben). Nika shopping in a Rough Trade record store in Brooklyn, New York.