Nika Roza Danilova fills empty spaces with song as Zola Jesus

Raised on 100 acres of pristine Wisconsin forest, Nika Roza Danilova admittedly lived a rather sheltered existence. Which perhaps explains why she wanted to fill the empty spaces with song. On her own, she began studying opera, a course she pursued for over a decade, periodically giving up when she felt she just wasn’t good enough to compete.

Left to her own devices, however, she soon discovered female vocal iconoclasts like Lydia Lunch and Diamanda Galas, and began home-recording under her rechristened moniker of Zola Jesus, after Jesus Christ and one of her favorite authors, Emile Zola. She plays The City’s Rickshaw Stop this Friday.

Danilova predicated her Zola Jesus persona on Stockhausen and The Residents — music that can make listeners extremely uncomfortable. And on her two albums and three EPs (“Valusia” being the most recent) her Wagnerian voice has blossomed into a decidedly Siouxsie Sioux-redolent chandelier shaker that’s wowing alt-rockers and Goths alike.

NME dubbed those pipes “the deadliest weapon in her arsenal,” which isn’t far from the truth. And she’s still got ultrahip taste — Aug. 28, she’ll perform at the Hollywood Bowl as part of an all-star tribute to French tunesmith Serge Gainsbourg, alongside Beck, Mike Patton, Sean Lennon and Jean Claude Vannier. Plus the backing her voice truly deserves, a full symphony.

For more information, visit

artsBackstage PassNika Roza DanilovaPop Music & JazzSan Francisco

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