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Zola Jesus

Rate It! Avg: 4.5 (59 ratings)
  • Born: Phoenix, AZ
  • Years Active: 2000s
  • Website: http://zolajesus.com
  • Recent Activity: 10.21.16 PSA: new @tagaq album came out today and it's precisely what the world needs right now.
  • Zola Jesus

  • Zola Jesus

  • Zola Jesus


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Zola Jesus is the project of Nika Roza Danilova, who crafts dark music dominated by her operatic vocals and keyboards. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Nika showed an interest in singing early on, buying voice lesson tapes and opera sheet music at age seven; soon after, she began working with a vocal coach for the next decade. Anxiety and the competitive nature of opera caused her to stop singing for a couple of years, but missing that form of expression spurred her to begin Zola Jesus. Inspired by high-school favorites like Diamanda Galás, Lydia Lunch, Throbbing Gristle, and Swans, Nika made cathartic home recordings using keyboards, drum machines, and anything else she had on hand. Her first officially released music included a couple of 2008 7"s: the Poor Sons EP on Die Stasi and Soeur Sewer on Sacred Bones.

In 2009, Zola Jesus became one of the most talked and blogged-about underground artists, and her release and touring schedule reflected that: along with the full-length The Spoils, she also released the Tsar Bomba EP on Troubleman, New Amsterdam on Sacred Bones, and an untitled, limited-edition vinyl album and a split release with Burial Hex on Aurora Borealis. For her live band, she recruited her cousin Dead Luke to play synths, bassist Lindsay Mikkola, and drummer Max Elliott. Nika also played in the group Former Ghosts, which featured Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart and Freddy Ruppert. She remained just as busy in 2010, touring with Fever Ray and the xx and releasing the cleaner-sounding Stridulum, Stridulum II, and Valusia EPs.

The following year she collaborated with Prefuse 73 on The Misanthrope Meditation Mix and released her third full-length, Conatus, which found Nika continuing to move away from her lo-fi roots and toward experimental electronic pop. Toward the end of the Conatus tour, Nika was asked to perform at New York's Guggenheim Museum, an event for which she collaborated with Foetus' J.G. Thirlwell, who provided arrangements for the Mivos Quartet. These string-based renditions were captured in 2013's Versions. For her fourth album, 2014's Taiga, Nika moved to Mute Records. Named after the Russian word for "forest," she wrote and recorded the album on Washington State's verdant Vashon Island and mixed it in Los Angeles with longtime collaborator Dean Hurley.

eMusic Features


New This Week: Sleigh Bells, Frankie Rose & More

By J. Edward Keyes, Editor-in-Chief

When it rains it pours, and this month has been a veritable flood. There are more new, great albums than I know what to do with. I need about 15 extra hours each day to listen to them all. Chances are you will, too. HERE WE GO. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror: This is probably where we have the discussion about how bands almost never sound good on Saturday Night Live. Artists we know are great… more »


CMJ Report: Who Won the Week

By J. Edward Keyes, Editor-in-Chief

Over the course of the last several years, so much time and space has been given over to questioning the value and relevance of New York's CMJ Festival that it hardly seems worthwhile to repeat the process here. The festival - now in its third decade - still puts forth a serviceable lineup of bands for anyone interested enough in burning the better part of a week shuttling from one end of the city to… more »


Label Profile: Sacred Bones Records

By David Raposa, Contributor

File Under: Dark pop, mysterious noise, industrial punk, and everything in between Flagship Acts: Zola Jesus, Moon Duo, Gary War, the Men Based In: Brooklyn, New York It only took two releases for the then-fledgling Sacred Bones Records to find their identity. The label's first record, a 7-inch from Denver-area band the Hunt (friends of Sacred Bones founder Caleb Braaten), looks like a run-of-the-mill single. When the label put out Blank Dogs' Diana (The Herald) EP, however, the… more »


Who Is…EMA

By Marissa G. Muller, Contributor

For Fans Of: Kim Gordon, Lydia Lunch, early Cat Power, Zola Jesus EMA's Erika M. Anderson doesn't fuck around. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota-born songwriter, and former frontwoman for the short-lived but cultishly-adored outfit Gowns, may have flirted with expulsion from her middle school for a prank involving a dissected frog, but when it comes to her artistic life, Anderson has always maintained a zen-level focus. "If I'm going to do something," she says, "I'm going… more »


  • 10.21.16 PSA: new @tagaq album came out today and it's precisely what the world needs right now.
  • 10.19.16 RT @SacredBones: See @ZOLAJESUS in conversation with @NekoCase, @suziAnalog, and @mihohatori at @NationalSawdust next Tuesday. https://t.co…
  • 10.19.16 RT @openculture: Hear Igor Stravinsky’s Symphonies & Ballets in a Complete, 32-Hour, Chronological Playlist https://t.co/kTONEmjDnw https:/…
  • 10.16.16 i resent that the voice is the only instrument that relies on words
  • 10.16.16 tru dat https://t.co/5uJpQRduqW
  • 10.16.16 RT @thebl0w: @villagevoice wrote about WOMANPRODUCER series w/: @NekoCase @ZOLAJESUS @suziAnalog @YukaCHonda @deradoorian @olivep @Val_Inc…
  • 10.15.16 https://t.co/erZ74kAWYa
  • 10.15.16 NYC go to this for me please. x https://t.co/myF1RzzhxZ
  • 10.14.16 RT @villagevoice: .@NationalSawdust and @thebl0w make women producers visible https://t.co/4BRBe0fsLb @womanproducer https://t.co/fLYk41WE6K
  • 10.14.16 RT @thats_melbourne: See @ZolaJesus and Melbourne artists Penny Quartet in a specially commissioned concert of old and new works: https://t…
  • 10.13.16 RT @DangerMindsBlog: ‘A Message from the Temple’: First peek at upcoming documentary on Genesis P-Orridge cult looks GOOD https://t.co/8scv…
  • 10.13.16 several years ago a prisoner convicted of murder sent me a letter. his case was recently covered on mtv's unlocking the truth. surreal