This year’s Vivid LIVE festival may be highlighted by a performance from Florence + The Machine accompanied by the Ceremonial Orchestra, but there exists another performer on the Vivid lineup whose vocal quality is comparable to that of Florence Welch.
Nika Roza Danilova goes by the alias of Zola Jesus, and whereas her Florence counterpart bellows over soaring anthems, Danilova’s powerful voice is set against a more brooding industrialised sound, with equal cinematic effect.
From early childhood Danilova studied and trained in Opera. In an interview with ABC, Danilova explained that it was a discipline that helped her develop a formidable voice and strong work ethic but ultimately disconnected the young singer from the expressiveness of music for the sake of ‘technical accuracy’.
Danilova’s increasing distaste for opera began to corrode her zest for music, and as she revealed to Music Feeds, temporarily left her wondering if she’d ever reconnect with her passion:
“For a while I couldn’t maintain that passion because it just felt like opera was so clinical and so sterile that it wasn’t allowing me to feel that sort of strong colourful emotion and that was scary for a little bit”, Danilova discloses.
“Once I started making my own music I regained that expressive tool so I quickly healed. Well, I didn’t quickly heal, but I quickly learned how to get it back.”
Formally creating an alter-ego during her late teens, it was only a few years later that Zola Jesus released her 2009 debut record The Spoils. Since that time two more Zola Jesus LPs have followed: 2010’s Stridulum II and 2011s Conatus, along with a few EPs.
Despite the freedom found in Zola Jesus, Danilova at times still feels the meticulous urgings of her formal training:
“I think perhaps now making my own music and having complete control over the outcome of the music has allowed me to be less stressed about the precision or perfectionism, but of course it’s something that I’ve always struggled with, so I do still feel that pressure on myself”, Danilova concedes.
…And surprisingly, she also suffers from a continual bout of stage fright:
“I just kind of have to psych myself into going on stage, and then I just push myself on stage and I just kind of pretend I’m not there. Most of it has to do with the challenge; I’m kind of obsessed with challenging myself and so I just see it as a good challenge to push through.”
“I think that, that [obsession with challenging herself] will make it very easy for me to constantly…never be comfortable…so I’m constantly going to be trying new things, and I have been and it will probably continue that way.”
Zola Jesus Australian Tour
Thursday 31 May – Vivid Live Festival – Sydney Opera House.
Presented By FBi Radio and Penny Drop.
Tickets on sale Monday 19th March, from Ticketmaster, online at www.ticketmaster.com.au
Friday 1 June – Alhambra Lounge – Brisbane.
Presented by Wild Parlour, Lost Race and 4ZZZ.
Tickets on sale now from Oztix, online at www.oztix.com.au, and by phone 1300 762 545.
Saturday 2 June – The Toff In Town – Melbourne.
With guests Light Asylum (US) and Forces.
Presented by Triple R.
Tickets on sale now from Moshtix, online www.moshtix.com.au, by phone 1300 Get Tix (438 849) or Moshtix
outlets including Polyester (Fitzroy & City).
Sunday 3 June – The Toff – Melbourne.
Presented by Triple R.
Tickets on sale now from Moshtix, online www.moshtix.com.au, by phone 1300 Get Tix (438 849) or Moshtix outlets including Polyester (Fitzroy & City).