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Nicole Hummel (born April 11, 1989), known professionally as Zola Jesus and also as Nika Danilova, is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer.[4] She has released four EPs and five full-length albums that combine electronic, industrial, classical, and goth.[9][10]

Zola Jesus
1 Zola-Jesus Webster.jpg
Zola Jesus performing in New York, 2014
Background information
Birth nameNicole Hummel[1][2]
Born (1989-04-11) April 11, 1989 (age 30)[3][4]
Phoenix, Arizona, US
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active2006–present
Associated acts


1989–2008: Early lifeEdit

Hummel was born April 11, 1989 in Phoenix, Arizona,[11] and spent her early years there. She subsequently relocated with her family to Merrill, Wisconsin,[12] of which Hummel said: "I resented my parents for having moved me away from Phoenix because I thought Phoenix was much more interesting than Wisconsin. It's a great place and it's very interesting there, beautiful."[13] Her parents are first-generation Americans,[12] with combinations of Russian as well as German,[6] Slovenian,[14] and Ukrainian descent.[12] Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Odessa, Ukraine, and settled in North Dakota.[15]

Inspired by singers and bands including Ian Curtis,[16] Lydia Lunch,[16] Diamanda Galás, Throbbing Gristle and Swans,[17] she started to record at home, using keyboards, drum machines and other instruments. Her performing name, Zola Jesus, was derived from the French writer Émile Zola, and the Christian messiah.[18] While studying business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she debuted the singles "Poor Sons" on Die Stasi and "Soeur Sewer", released in 2008 by Sacred Bones Records.[4]

She subsequently transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison,[19] where she graduated in 2010[20] with a double major in French and philosophy.[21]

2009–present: CareerEdit

In 2009, while still studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,[16] Zola Jesus recorded [16] and released her debut full-length The Spoils. Then followed Tsar Bomba EP (on Troubleman), New Amsterdam compilation on Sacred Bones and an untitled, limited-edition vinyl split with Burial Hex (Aurora Borealis). For touring she recruited Dead Luke (synths), bassist Lindsay Mikkola and drummer Max Elliott. Later the line-up changed to Shane Verwey and Nick Turco (synth), Alex DeGroot, and Nick Johnson, a drummer with metal band Jex Thoth.[22]

Zola Jesus has also played with Former Ghosts. On Fever Ray's 2010 European tour, she performed as a support act[23] and also toured with The xx. In the late 2009 collaboration between Zola Jesus and Rory Kane took shape (as Nika+Rory), a demo being put out on MySpace.[24]

In 2010, Zola Jesus released the Stridulum EP, inspired by Giulio Paradisi 1979 film of the same name,[25] After the release Zola Jesus performed at the SXSW Festival, for her second time.[26]

The Valusia EP was also released on Sacred Bones in 2010. LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus EP, the collaboration with Amanda Brown of Pocahaunted, presented "a dingy, lower-than-lo-fi sound and very little of what one would call traditional songwriting," according to Pitchfork review.[27]

Zola Jesus's second full-length release was Stridulum II. Although regarded as her debut album in the UK, this album simply combines all six songs from the Stridulum EP (in different sequencing) with three of the four songs from the Valusia EP; the cover art is modified from the cover of Stridulum.

Zola Jesus performing at the Roadburn Festival

Zola Jesus's third LP, her second album of new material was Conatus, released in late September 2011 via Sacred Bones. The album's 11 tracks were produced by Brian Foote (aka Nudge: Jackie-O Motherfucker, Cloudland Canyon) and Danilova herself, including elements of cello, double bass, violin, and viola.

She provided guest vocals on the song "Intro" by M83 from their 2011 album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. She also sang on "New France" by Orbital, from their 2012 album Wonky.

On August 19 (20th in the US), 2013, Versions (Sacred Bones Records), the set of neo-classical reworkings of previous releases from Zola Jesus in a collaboration with producer JG Thirlwell, was released.[28]

On June 18, 2014, she announced her fourth studio album, titled Taiga.[29]

On June 9, 2017, Zola Jesus announced her fifth album, Okovi, which was released on September 8.

Musical style and influencesEdit

Her style has been described variously as "commanded by ominous lyrics and a sultry Goth delivery,"[26] According to the NME, Zola Jesus "wails like Kate Bush" on a music sometimes evoking Joy Division.[30] For Q magazine, her "haunting vocals and swirling, electronic atmospherics are located midway between Florence Welch and Siouxsie and the Banshees."[31] She has also been compared to Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.[32]

Personal lifeEdit

For a time, Zola Jesus lived in Seattle, Washington.[33] In 2017, she relocated to her hometown of Merrill, Wisconsin, and built a home on her family's property.[33]

Touring band membersEdit

  • Nika Danilova – vocals, electronics
  • Alex DeGroot – guitar
  • Louise Woodward – violin



  1. ^ "Company ZOLA JESUS INC". May 30, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  2. ^ "Class Notes" (PDF). On Winconsin. 2014. p. 61. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  3. ^ "Zola Jesus | Free Music, Mixes, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  4. ^ a b c d Heather Phares. "Zola Jesus". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  5. ^ Gaca, Anna (August 1, 2017). "Watch Zola Jesus Debut New Song "Siphon"". Spin. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Pelly, Jenn (July 29, 2014). "Zola Jesus". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  7. ^ Keenan, Dave (August 2009). "Childhood's End". The Wire (306).
  8. ^ Whiteley, Sheila; Rambarran, Shara (January 22, 2016). The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality. Oxford University Press. p. 412.
  9. ^ Orton, Karen (October 2011). "20 Q&As: Zola Jesus". Dazed & Confused. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  10. ^ Hewitt, Ben (August 23, 2010). "Album review: Zola Jesus – 'Stridulum II'". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Farah, Troy (2015-02-06). "Zola Jesus Resented Her Parents for Moving Her From Phoenix". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  12. ^ a b c "Zola Jesus Wants To Change the World". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  13. ^ Farah, Troy (February 6, 2015). "Zola Jesus Resented Her Parents for Moving Her From Phoenix". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  14. ^ "Zola Jesus presents her 'After the Fall of New York' mix". Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  15. ^ Kletnoy, Sergio (July 16, 2014). "Zola Jesus Wants to Change the World". Elle. Archived from the original on January 19, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c d Ryan Dombal. "Rising: Zola Jesus – interview". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  17. ^ "Zola Jesus music". Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  18. ^ Montgomery, Hugh (November 20, 2011). "Zola Jesus: 'I feel like I have to push myself off a cliff'". The Independent. Archived from the original on November 22, 2011.
  19. ^ Rytlewski, Evan. "Zola Jesus' Nika Roza Danilova Talks Opera, Apocalypse". Express Milwaukee. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  20. ^ Kirkby, Sean (October 23, 2013). "UW grad impresses with new Zola Jesus album". The Weekly. University of Wisconsin–Madison. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  21. ^ Palermo, Tomas (May 4, 2011). "Zola Jesus Sings About the End of the World, Hates Upbeat Indie Rock". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on June 13, 2019.
  22. ^ Josia Wolf. "Zola Jesus interview". Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  23. ^ Zola Jesus to support Fevr Ray Archived May 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 15 October 2011
  24. ^ "NIKA+RORY | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  25. ^ Sian Rowe. "How a Cult Sci-Film Turned an Opera Singer to Evil". Dazed & Confuzed magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  26. ^ a b Sydnie Taylor (2010). "Zola Jesus Interview: SXSW 2010". Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  27. ^ Larry Fitzmaurice (July 15, 2010). "LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  28. ^ "Versions by Zola Jesus & JG Thirlwell". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  29. ^ Pelly, Jenn (June 18, 2014). "Zola Jesus Announces New Album Taiga". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  30. ^ Richards, Sam."50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2010 – 7 Zola Jesus Stridulum II" NME.COM. Retrieved 2011-07-07. "She wailed, like Kate Bush at her most bereft"... "In addition, nobody's ever gone too far wrong by taking the processional poise of Joy Division's 'Atmosphere' as a template."
  31. ^ Cottingham, Chris. Q magazine. #294 January 2011. The 10 New Faces of 2011. P.46
  32. ^ Bécourt, Julien. "Zola Jesus : Reine des Sabbats" Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  33. ^ a b Pelly, Jenn (July 21, 2017). "Zola Jesus Turns Tragedy into a Torrential Sound on Her New Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 5, 2018.

External linksEdit