This is a italicIt’s been three years since we last heard from Zola Jesus (real name, Nika Roza Danilova). Zola is currently touring Europe to promote her fifth studio album, Taiga which was largely written on Vashon Island in Washington. With many critics claiming that it is her most ambitious compilation to date, we met up with Zola Jesus to talk about what the writing process meant to her.
I’m well! I just got to Budapest.
Very much so. I’ve been able to visit some of my favourite places in Europe – like Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, so every day is a thrill.
Right now, I don’t have the ideal writing place. When I wrote Taiga, I had a studio in my house on an island. The studio overlooked the water; it was the most magical spot but now I live in the city and so there is no “safe place”!
I have to just let it go. Even when I feel like I’m not at my best or where I could be, I still have to put myself out there. I am a work in progress, indefinitely. And so I hope people see that - there is a gradient. Maybe one day I will meet my own standards, but then again, maybe not.
I’ve been working on Taiga the whole time. Writing every day, finding inspiration, learning, reading, growing, traveling...
It’s the first album that felt like it was ready to be born. In the past I had to release albums even though they didn’t feel finished to me but this one was different. It wasn’t released until it was completely cooked. I felt good about that.
I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to time: past, future, death, birth... every second that passes is your last second of that very moment, never to be re-lived. There is something beautiful about that, but also terrifying. Even when I was a small child I would cry in fear of death, or in mourning for the past. There has always been a deep-seated fear of time.
I feel very old, actually!
It’s interesting because I feel the same way with the audience. I want to find answers in them too, and that is the most unique aspect of performance - it is an unbridled connection between a group of people. We are all stripped and trying to confront some greater truth together. After a show, I feel exhausted and depleted but also reborn.