Zola Jesus (aka Nika Roza Danilova) released a new album Okovi on Sept. 8 via Sacred Bones. She brings her heavy and dark new songs to performance at U Street Music Hall on Saturday, Sept. 30.
To write Okova, Nika returned to Wisconsin where she grew up. She released a statement on her inspiration for the album, and we’ll let her words speak for themselves:
“Last year, I moved back to the woods in Wisconsin where I was raised. I built a little house just steps away from where my dilapidated childhood tree fort is slowly recombining into earth. Okovi was fed by this return to roots and several very personal traumas.
“While writing Okovi, I endured people very close to me trying to die, and others trying desperately not to. Meanwhile, I was fighting through a haze so thick I wasn’t sure I’d find my way to the other side. Death, in all of its masks, has been encircling everyone I love, and with it the questions of legacy, worth, and will.
“Okovi is a Slavic word for shackles. We’re all shackled to something—to life, to death, to bodies, to minds, to illness, to people, to birthright, to duty. Each of us born with a unique debt, and we have until we die to pay it back. Without this cost, what gives us the right to live? And moreover, what gives us the right to die? Are we really even free to choose?
“This album is a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of nature. To bring it to life, I decided to enlist the help of Alex DeGroot, who has been the only constant in my live band and helped mix the Stridulum EP back in 2010. It will be released on Sacred Bones, the closest group of people I’ll ever have to blood-bound family.”
Watch the official music video for “Exhumed” by Zola Jesus on YouTube:
“The grave pomp of Russian late Romanticism meets the jittery electronics of trap in Zola Jesus’s ‘Exhumed,’” said the New York Times.