Photo by Jesse Draxler
Zola Jesus is the moniker for Nika Roza Danilova, who started out on the avant-garde fringe before incorporating more pop muscle. Her music is big, dark, and bold–there are currents of Joy Division and Nine Inch Nails running through–but she doesn’t come from some industrial, post-apocalyptic city. She grew up in rural Wisconsin. Her songs are more geological than technological.
Zola Jesus also comes at her songwriting from unique angles. “Soak,” a song from her just-released fifth album Okovi, is something of a murder ballad, but the power dynamic is shifted. It’s told from the point-of-view of a serial killer’s victim, establishing agency and compassion with the woman in a tradition that is often deeply anti-feminist and inhumane. Zola Jesus conjures up a shadowy, electronic symphony on the song, sounding like Massive Attack at its iciest. At the heart is Zola Jesus’ voice, vibrantly fiery and alive.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX