Raised in woodsy Wisconsin wilderness, Nika Roza Danilova isn’t at her best in an urban environment. Looking to escape Los Angeles – where she reluctantly moved with her film-projectionist husband – she retreated to a secluded house on Vashon Island, near Seattle, where she spent nine months composing ’Taiga,” her fifth album as the spectral synth stylist Zola Jesus.
“It had huge glass windows, it looked out over Puget Sound, and there was green everywhere. It was everything I’d been craving, just complete paradise,” says Danilova, who appears in The City this week.
Yet claustrophobia surrounds velvet-textured “Taiga” dirges like “Dust,” “Dangerous Days” and “Long Way Down.” Danilova sounds despairing when she sings in the symphonic march “Lawless”: “In these lawless times/ I’ve got nothing left of what’s mine…I know I won’t lose the will to make it out alive.” Turns out that even the most verdant heaven can be tainted by a bit of hell. While on Vashon Island, Danilova says, “I was a victim of fraud, and that was terrifying – that someone could pretend to be me.”
Even as an opera-loving child in Merrill, Wis., the singer, 25, suffered from an anxiety disorder that made her crave secrecy, solitude. But she never expected to find exorbitant charges from across the globe on her bank statement. “I was like ‘How is this happening? I am not hiring prostitutes in Amsterdam right now! This sucks!,” she recalls. “You think you’re an anonymous person, but then you realize that no one’s anonymous, and everything you do can be compromised. And someone can wear your information like a suit, for their own benefit.”
It took Danilova months to clear up her credit history. She tried to forget the incident, but it haunted her _ and “Taiga,” too. “A lot of this record is about protecting your privacy, protecting your name, protecting your rights and your identity,” she says. “These days, everything you do is being tracked, being monitored, so there’s really no such thing as privacy anymore. And that’s something you think about, too, wanting to be a pop star – privacy becomes compromised the minute you put something public out into the world.”
Before Danilova forged her exotic musical identity – and don’t call it goth, she says, “It’s future tribal” – she studied philosophy. So she happily spends the rest of “Taiga” analyzing mankind in Darwinian macrocosm. “You’ve got to appreciate the fact that every human is self-serving and self-preserving,” she says. “Even down to the oil companies – it’s all survivalism, animalistic and a little scary. So, understanding all that? I trust no one.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 8
Contact: (415) 474-0365, www.ticketfly.com