|Birth name||Nicole Hummel|
|Born||April 11, 1989|
Phoenix, Arizona, US
Nika Danilova (born April 11, 1989), known professionally as Zola Jesus, is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. She has released four EPs and five full-length albums that combine electronic, industrial, classical, and goth.
1989–2008: Early life
Danilova was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Merrill, Wisconsin. In various interviews she has stated that her parents are American, with combinations of Russian as well as German, Slovenian, and Ukrainian descent. Inspired by singers and bands including Ian Curtis, Lydia Lunch, Diamanda Galás, Throbbing Gristle and Swans, 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.
In 2009, while still studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Zola Jesus recorded  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.
Zola Jesus has also played with Former Ghosts. On Fever Ray's 2010 European tour, she performed as a support act 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.
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.
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.
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.
On June 9, 2017, Zola Jesus announced her fifth album, Okovi, which was released on September 8.
Musical style and influences
Her style has been described variously as "commanded by ominous lyrics and a sultry Goth delivery," According to the NME, Zola Jesus "wails like Kate Bush" on a music sometimes evoking Joy Division. For Q magazine, her "haunting vocals and swirling, electronic atmospherics are located midway between Florence Welch and Siouxsie and the Banshees." She has also been compared to Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.
Touring band members
- Nika Danilova – vocals, electronics
- Alex DeGroot – guitar
- Louise Woodward – violin
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