Nika Roza Danilova, better known by her stage name Zola Jesus, is a Wisconsin-born electronic and experimental rock artist. Her latest album, “Versions,” came out earlier this year on Sacred Bones Records. This past weekend at the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Festival, Recess spoke with her about her music, goals and inspirations.
Recess: What are you working on right now?
Zola Jesus: I’m working on my new record. I do have other creative hobbies, but music is definitely my passion.
R: You’re not much older than us, and you are so accomplished musically—what was your inspiration growing up to create music?
Zola Jesus: I don’t really know how it happened. I didn’t play sports or join a lot of clubs as a kid. It’s just always been music.
R: What is your current musical inspiration?
Zola Jesus: Maria Callas, who is an old opera singer. As for current music: Kanye West. I’m always trying to make my stuff as good or better than his last 2 albums.
R: Do you aim to achieve anything with your music? Is there a message you want to communicate?
Zola Jesus: Yes, of course, I want to share something. I want to make people think about the world differently or in a new light.
R: Have you had a chance to go around Asheville at all? Have you gotten any local inspiration with the mountain scenery?
Zola Jesus: Unfortunately, I haven’t because it’s been so busy. And I haven’t been hiking, but I would love to.
R: If you had to give one piece advice to the youth of today, what would it be?
Zola Jesus: I didn’t connect a lot with my youth because I was always working toward my future goals. So, don’t be young? I’m not sure if that’s really good advice, but in a sense it helps keep you focused. You know, always look to the next step.
R: Can you tell us a little about your decision to study philosophy in school?
Zola Jesus: I picked philosophy because it’s practical. You can apply it to anything.
R: Do you get a lot of annoying questions about philosophy in interviews? What if everyone sees colors differently?
Zola Jesus: [laughs] Sometimes I get questions like that, and it’s a little overwhelming because I’m just not in that mindset at all.