Zola Jesus

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Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus @ Roadburn Festival 2018-04-21 002.jpg
Background information
Birth nameNicole Hummel[1][2]
Born (1989-04-11) April 11, 1989 (age 29)[3][4]
Phoenix, Arizona, US
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active2006–present
Associated acts

Nika Danilova (born April 11, 1989), known professionally as Zola Jesus, is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer.[4] She has released four EPs and five full-length albums that combine electronic, industrial, classical, and goth.[9][10]


1989–2008: Early life[edit]

Danilova was born in Phoenix, Arizona,[11] and raised in Merrill, Wisconsin.[12] In various interviews she has stated that her parents are American,[12] with combinations of Russian as well as German,[6] Slovenian,[13] and Ukrainian descent.[12] Inspired by singers and bands including Ian Curtis,[14] Lydia Lunch,[14] Diamanda Galás, Throbbing Gristle and Swans,[15] she started to record at home, using keyboards, drum machines and other instruments.

In 2008 she debuted with singles "Poor Sons" on Die Stasi and "Soeur Sewer" on Sacred Bones Records.[4]

Before transferring to University of Wisconsin-Madison to study French and philosophy, she attended University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she began a business major.[16] She graduated in 2010.[17]

2009–present: Career[edit]

Zola Jesus in Stockholm, November 2010

In 2009, while still studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,[14] Zola Jesus recorded [14] and released her debut full-length The Spoils. Then followed Tsar Bomba EP (on Troubleman), New Amsterdam compilation on Sacred Bones and an untitled, limited-edition vinyl split with Burial Hex (Aurora Borealis). For touring she recruited Dead Luke (synths), bassist Lindsay Mikkola and drummer Max Elliott. Later the line-up changed to Shane Verwey and Nick Turco (synth), Alex DeGroot, and Nick Johnson, a drummer with metal band Jex Thoth.[18]

Zola Jesus has also played with Former Ghosts. On Fever Ray's 2010 European tour, she performed as a support act[19] and also toured with The xx. In the late 2009 collaboration between Zola Jesus and Rory Kane took shape (as Nika+Rory), a demo being put out on MySpace.[20]

In 2010, Zola Jesus released the Stridulum EP, inspired by Giulio Paradisi 1979 film of the same name,[21] After the release Zola Jesus performed at the SXSW Festival, for her second time.[22]

The Valusia EP was also released on Sacred Bones in 2010. LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus EP, the collaboration with Amanda Brown of Pocahaunted, presented "a dingy, lower-than-lo-fi sound and very little of what one would call traditional songwriting," according to Pitchfork review.[23]

Zola Jesus's second full-length release was Stridulum II. Although regarded as her debut album in the UK, this album simply combines all six songs from the Stridulum EP (in different sequencing) with three of the four songs from the Valusia EP; the cover art is modified from the cover of Stridulum.

Zola Jesus's third LP, her second album of new material was Conatus, released in late September 2011 via Sacred Bones. The album's 11 tracks were produced by Brian Foote (aka Nudge: Jackie-O Motherfucker, Cloudland Canyon) and Danilova herself, including elements of cello, double bass, violin, and viola.

She provided guest vocals on the song "Intro" by M83 from their 2011 album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. She also sang on "New France" by Orbital, from their 2012 album Wonky.

On August 19 (20th in the US), 2013, Versions (Sacred Bones Records), the set of neo-classical reworkings of previous releases from Zola Jesus in a collaboration with producer JG Thirlwell, was released.[24]

On June 18, 2014, she announced her fourth studio album, titled Taiga.[25]

On June 9, 2017, Zola Jesus announced her fifth album, Okovi, which was released on September 8.

Musical style and influences[edit]

Her style has been described variously as "commanded by ominous lyrics and a sultry Goth delivery,"[22] According to the NME, Zola Jesus "wails like Kate Bush" on a music sometimes evoking Joy Division.[26] For Q magazine, her "haunting vocals and swirling, electronic atmospherics are located midway between Florence Welch and Siouxsie and the Banshees."[27] She has also been compared to Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.[28]

Personal life[edit]

For a time, Zola Jesus lived in Seattle, Washington.[29] In 2017, she relocated to her hometown of Merrill, Wisconsin, and built a home on her family's property.[29]

Touring band members[edit]

  • Nika Danilova – vocals, electronics
  • Alex DeGroot – guitar
  • Louise Woodward – violin



  1. ^ "Company ZOLA JESUS INC". Us-companies.info. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  2. ^ "Class Notes" (PDF). On Winconsin. 2014. p. 61. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  3. ^ "Zola Jesus | Free Music, Mixes, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  4. ^ a b c d Heather Phares. "Zola Jesus". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  5. ^ Gaca, Anna (August 1, 2017). "Watch Zola Jesus Debut New Song "Siphon"". Spin. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Pelly, Jenn (July 29, 2014). "Zola Jesus". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  7. ^ Keenan, Dave (August 2009). "Childhood's End". The Wire (306).
  8. ^ Whiteley, Sheila; Rambarran, Shara (January 22, 2016). The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality. Oxford University Press. p. 412.
  9. ^ Orton, Karen (October 2011). "20 Q&As: Zola Jesus". Dazed & Confused. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  10. ^ Hewitt, Ben (August 23, 2010). "Album review: Zola Jesus – 'Stridulum II'". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Farah, Troy (2015-02-06). "Zola Jesus Resented Her Parents for Moving Her From Phoenix". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  12. ^ a b c "Zola Jesus Wants To Change the World". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  13. ^ "Zola Jesus presents her 'After the Fall of New York' mix". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d Ryan Dombal. "Rising: Zola Jesus – interview". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  15. ^ "Zola Jesus music". rcrdlbl.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  16. ^ Evan Rytlewski. "Zola Jesus' Nika Roza Danilova Talks Opera, Apocalypse". Expressmilwaukee.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  17. ^ Kirkby, Sean (October 23, 2013). "UW grad impresses with new Zola Jesus album". The Weekly. University of Wisconsin–Madison. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  18. ^ Josia Wolf. "Zola Jesus interview". fingersbecomethumbs.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  19. ^ Zola Jesus to support Fevr Ray Archived May 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Feverray.com. Retrieved on 15 October 2011
  20. ^ "NIKA+RORY | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  21. ^ Sian Rowe. "How a Cult Sci-Film Turned an Opera Singer to Evil". Dazed & Confuzed magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  22. ^ a b Sydnie Taylor (2010). "Zola Jesus Interview: SXSW 2010". www.spinner.com. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  23. ^ Larry Fitzmaurice (July 15, 2010). "LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  24. ^ "Versions by Zola Jesus & JG Thirlwell". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  25. ^ Pelly, Jenn (June 18, 2014). "Zola Jesus Announces New Album Taiga". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  26. ^ Richards, Sam."50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2010 – 7 Zola Jesus Stridulum II" NME.COM. Retrieved 2011-07-07. "She wailed, like Kate Bush at her most bereft"... "In addition, nobody’s ever gone too far wrong by taking the processional poise of Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ as a template."
  27. ^ Cottingham, Chris. Q magazine. #294 January 2011. The 10 New Faces of 2011. P.46
  28. ^ Bécourt, Julien. "Zola Jesus : Reine des Sabbats" chronicart.com. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  29. ^ a b Pelly, Jenn (July 21, 2017). "Zola Jesus Turns Tragedy into a Torrential Sound on Her New Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 5, 2018.

External links[edit]