Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus

You don't need a good (or even a particularly listenable) voice to get ahead in the indie rock world, but pipes like Zola Jesus' certainly don't hurt. In a genre where acts seem to be in a perpetual contest to prove whose lead singer is the sleepiest, Nikola Danilova's voice has done wonders in distinguishing her Zola Jesus project from the pack.


Danilova is a 21-year-old French/philosophy double major at the University of Wisconsin. Given her back story, that she's found success at such a young age is hardly surprising. At the age of seven, she insisted that her parents sign her up for opera lessons. She'd study opera for ten years, until a crippling self-consciousness forced her to put it aside. In high school she picked up the name Zola Jesus (she was really into Emile Zola, at the time) and started making home recordings. Over the next couple of years, she'd slowly synthesize a life's worth of interests and influences (opera, industrial music, mainstream radio, philosophy, goth) into her own unique, immediate aesthetic.


The first effort most heard from Zola Jesus was 2009's The Spoils, which gained the project high-profile gigs (opening for the XX, Wolf Parade, etc) and influential fans. She followed it up with the grand Stridulum EP, which did away with a lot of The Spoils' noise and placed greaert emphasis on Danilova's increasingly unrestrained voice. It was recorded in her bedroom, on a break between college semesters, but it certainly does not sound that way. In late 2010, she released the Valusia EP, pushing her sound even further into the realm of straight-up pop music. Her follow-up album will be released in 2011.

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