Drowned in heartwrenching drones and orchestral tremolos comes the majestic Zola Jesus – an artist who has pushed the boundaries of American music. Her chromatic songs carry gothic layers of classical and industrial tendencies, hindering on experimental, yet brought together by her vocal prowess. In creating her latest release TAIGA, she took to the isolated island of Vashon, Washington and locked herself away in the wilderness for nine months with no internet or civilisation. This shows her ambition and passion towards her artistry that has been compared to Sia and Fever Ray. Her sound carries the trends of European alternative pop that is few and far between in the North American airwaves.
When in discussion about pop music, Zola Jesus believes “the thing about pop that’s so seductive is that it is the western world’s music. If you turn on the radio and want to listen to music, and you’re not a music fan, that’s what you listen to. So it has this immense power to affect you. That’s the opportunity, and it’s being wasted on songs with no message, just escapism. Again that’s a really obvious thing to say, but it would be really nice if you could turn on the radio and it would be nutritious. I still have hope that that will happen.” For her, artists such as Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Brat Mobile, Riot Grrrl, Bjork and Kate Bush embody strong creative women that follow the trend of nutritious music.
Just listening to any of her songs, you can hear conflicting influences and ideas behind each lyric. In describing this, she explains that “everything I do is a reflection of the duality within me. Musically, I really love things that are very synthetic and unnatural. And I also like the organic and human… the intrinsic, I guess. I always try to reconcile the dichotomy between the two and make it into something that is unique.” Her songs create a romanticism of grandiose atmospheres and overwhelming sounds that are indescribable in a way. The attraction to minor keys and ambigious lyrics can be compared to “when you fall in love [and] you become weak. It’s kind of psycho, but feeling like falling in love is an amazing, incredible feeling… but at the same time, you are giving into something. Falling in love is like falling under a spell” and we have definitely fallen under hers.
Zola Jesus performs live at VENUE on January 10th alongside Deradoorian and Golden Donna.
By Vanessa Krystin Wong
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