Having recently announced her new album ‘Arkhon‘ is now due to be released on the 24th of June via Sacred Bones Records, Zola Jesus has shared the third single and video from the album, entitled “The Fall“.
Following previous singles “Lost” & “Desire“, Nika Roza Danilova comments on latest cut “The Fall“ saying: “I wrote The Fall for myself. It was an exercise in using music as a tool for the sake of my own inner catharsis. I had a lot of turmoil and complicated emotions that I couldn’t process in any other way. I suppose some feelings require you to write a pop song in order to fully understand them. For that reason, this song is very precious to me.”
Speaking on the track’s accompanying video, she adds: “Working with Jenni Hensler as a director was such a soul-feeding experience. She’s someone I’ve been collaborating with for ten years, and a dear friend to me. I value her own artistic perspective so much that at some point I realized there was no one else I could trust with my vision. We connected on an emotional and spiritual level regarding the intent of the song, and then I handed it over and let her make her magic. I’ve never felt so freed by a collaboration. And working with choreographer Sigrid Lauren was such an empowering experience. She was able to interpret and support my idiosyncratic movements in a way that allowed me to feel free in the moment.”
Director Jenni Hensler comments: “When we fall, we have the inner strength to pick ourselves up again. We sometimes have to struggle to find that strength, but it is there within all of us. The journey Nika goes through within the video, including confronting her reflection, removing her mask and the symbolic choreographed dance that follows are my way of expressing that.
I’ve debated whether to write a heartfelt statement speaking of the long-standing collaboration and friendship I’ve had over the years with Nika, about how she has touched my life and how we have both grown. Or to only speak about the meaning of this current collaboration. The two are connected, intertwined. This video is about the feeling of being stuck in a position or way of thinking about yourself and of the world around you, including the pressures to conform to a certain way of expression. It’s about the mask we wear, and the ways artists are forced to comply in order to succeed. This oftentimes makes us forget that creating art is one of the most transcendent forms of expression and that fully feeling, being in the present and enjoying the process while creating is at the core of who we are and the art we create. It is about change and coming into the power of our creativity. We need to wholly feel and release the magic within. When we make ourselves vulnerable and find the strength to do that, the art has a deeper meaning. The unspoken feeling when we truly feel connected and in the present moment of ecstatic joy or pain as we create is palpable. When Nika and I spoke about the vision for the song, we discussed a yearning for something better, a breakthrough of creative potential, and learning along the way. And then a sort of enlightenment when you realize that you are in control and do not need to conform to external standards. There is power and magic in knowing that. There is power in the desire for something better, the feeling within that desire including the drive and excitement it brings. There is strength in the feeling of expressing the sensuality simultaneously brewing and fully releasing that inner fire. This is an expression of all of that and reflects the journey of our collaboration and metamorphosis over many years.“
Zola Jesus has also announced a run of US Tour dates with The Cult and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as well as an appearance at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Full dates are listed below.
On previous albums, Danilova had largely played the role of auteur, meticulously crafting every aspect of Zola Jesus’s sound and look. This time, she realised that her habitual need for control was sealing her out of her art. When the frustration of being unable to create became intolerable, she took a leap of faith and reached out for help, something she had never done this early in an album’s lifetime. “At some point, I had to work with other people. I needed new blood. I needed somebody else.”
Danilova sent her demos to producer Randall Dunn, known for his work with Sunn O))) and on Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score for the film Mandy. She also began collaborating with drummer and percussionist Matt Chamberlain, whose prior work appears on albums by Fiona Apple, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie.
“When I look back at my work, I see there’s a theme where I fixate on my fear of the unknown,” says Danilova. “That really came into fruition for this record, because I had to let go of so much control. I had to surrender to whatever the outcome would be. That used to be really hard for me, and now I had no other choice.”
In her creative process, Danilova instead began forging a relationship with the unknown. Rather than try to hold ‘Arkhon’ in its entirety at every moment of its creation, she began focusing on the direct experience of making work with others, allowing for spontaneous moments of unselfconscious play. After over a decade of classical voice training, she found that this shift enabled her to ease into her singing voice in new ways, leading her to greater flexibility and agility. “I had gone through a deeply transformational process of inner growth. That annihilated a lot of tension in my voice, because my whole attachment to things changed,” she says.
‘Arkhon’ unearths buried tools for bearing grief, loss, and disappointment. The album’s title means “power” or “ruler” in ancient Greek, but it also has a specific valence within Gnosticism. “Arkons are a Gnostic idea of power wielded through a flawed god,” says Danilova. “They taint and tarnish humanity, keeping them corrupted instead of letting them find their harmonious selves. I do feel like we are living in an arkhonic time; these negative influences are weighing extremely heavy on all of us. We’re in a time of arkhons. There’s power in naming that.”