ACL Interview: Zola Jesus
Saturday, 1:15pm, Honda stage
"I've thought about making music under my birth name going forward, but I think that might just confuse people."
Nika Roza Danilova dubbed herself Zola Jesus when she was 19, almost four albums ago now. She's practically grown up right before our eyes, and like most human beings, she doesn't feel as connected presently to the artistic decisions she made as a teenager.
"It was a blanket, a comfort that I needed," she admits. "I don't need it anymore, but I guess I'm just stuck with Zola Jesus now."
Danilova's music has shifted from murky, lo-fi goth moans to a purified and often baroque art-pop. Last year's gorgeous and cohesive Conatus was a testament to how far she's come.
"Listening to my old records is very embarrassing, but there's also a sense of innocence, trial-and-error. I was just twisting nobs to see what would happen.
"Last year with the record release was so daunting because I was presenting a whole new musical ideology, but now I feel people understand."
That's been her whole life – trying to get people to understand. Growing up goth in small-town Wisconsin, carving out an increasingly idiosyncratic place in the national scene, wearing her hair midnight black and siren white: Zola Jesus thrives on constant and long-term evolution.
"I'll take it wherever it goes," she chimes optimistically.
It's worked so far.