The prodigious Zola Jesus will perform at the Electronic Beats festival in Warsaw on 2nd December – we had the privilege of spending a few minutes with the goth-pop queen to talk about a giddy rise to stardom and how music fails to inspire the Russian-American artist in her work.
You’ve been on tour for a long-time now (the US, now Europe) – how are you holding up?
I am tired, but I feel lucky.
You studied business at university, which seems the antithesis of a passionate musical background – why did you choose to study the subject?
I studied business for a very short time, at a moment where I felt like music was too stressful for me. But I realized music is all I have, it’s my compulsion and when I starve myself of it I become very sick.
And then you went on to study French and philosophy – do you think that shines through on your albums?
The things I have learned have informed me and how I live my life. My music is my life. Everything that I am trickles down into my music because my songs are a reflection of my fibre.
Do you have a favourite philosopher?
I am drawn mostly to Schopenhauer but no, I don’t hold any favourites.
You’ve been compared to Kate Bush and Siouxsie Soux, yet you have a classically trained voice – where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration doesn’t come from music. That would be redundant.
Why did you not continue with opera?
It was hurting me. It was destroying my emotional and physical health.
You have had 3 EPs and 3 albums out since 2009, which is prolific – are the albums something very raw and easy to make?
They are hard to make, but I force myself to let things go. If I didn’t let things go, then nothing would get done. So I work and work and let myself run out and then release it before I’m given a chance to think twice.
Zola Jesus will perform at the Electronic Beats Festival in Warsaw on the 2nd December. Find all the information here.
Published November 20, 2011.