Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jun 18th 2010 2:30PM by Liisa Ladouceur
"I'm moving to Los Angeles because that's where my fiancée lives," explains the 21-year-singer in advance of her NXNE festival showcase in Toronto. " I am hoping that I can battle the cliché lifestyle that people associate with the West Coast. But I don't know. All I know if that it's very sunny and very warm. I guess I'll find out how that affects my music. It's going to be sweaty."
But first, Danilov has to finish her up a degree in French philosophy at the University of Wisconsin. Her school schedule is why she hasn't been able to do a proper tour yet, but she's taking extra summer courses in order to graduate early. She claims to be a decent student ("Well, I used to be, before I was gone every weekend playing shows") and when asked what she plans to do with the philosophy degree answers simply, "make music."
"Everything I write is a reflection of what I'm thinking," she says. "And when I'm studying, everything I learn affects me. I'll read a particular quote from a philosopher and be completely changed, because it's an insight into the world you never knew before. It changes how you wake up in the morning, and it all impacts my music, although indirectly."
With her talk of philosophers and her genuine opera background -- which she gave up because of the strict rules -- Zola Jesus has been embraced by some highfalutin art critic types. But she's more of a "hanging out in the Midwestern woods" kind of girl, who admits a fondness for scary movies, the literary horrors of Georges Bataille and, not surprisingly, Joy Division. "When I heard them I loved the coldness, the harshness," she explains. "It's so pulled back and reserved. They really did affect me." But the band that most inspired her experimental sound was anonymous art pranksters the Residents.
"My brother was playing the Residents record 'Eskimo,' which is basically all about atmosphere and texture and mood," she explains. "It's supposed to transport you to a certain place and time and into their story. And when I heard that, it completely changed how I approached music. It got me really excited about listening to music in order to be put somewhere else. I think the atmosphere creates the sound around you, even it's just a 'whoooosh.' If you're walking down the street listening to music and there are car sounds or noise from the streets can come in and mingle. I like that idea, like audio cinema."
Another lesson she may have learned from the Residents is playfulness: the album art for the 'Stridulum EP' features the singer's head covered in a dark brown goo -- what appears to be tar or some other icky substance. In reality, it's nothing but chocolate syrup.
"I love chocolate," she says, laughing. "And I love that it could be anything but then you find out it's chocolate and then it's like 'Oh, alright. That's not too scary at all.'"
Zola Jesus play June 18 at the Garrison as part of NXNE.