Need To Know: Zola Jesus
By Courtney Nichols
Was there anyone during your childhood that directly impacted your relationship with the visual-art world? Or was it all personal research and education?
It was a culmination of all the things I found inspiring and all the fields of artistic expression. There are a whole bunch of people I am inspired by.
What is your family's reaction to your music?
They are really proud. I think in the beginning they wished the music had been cleaner when it was rougher.
A lot of people define you as Goth, which in a lot of ways I don't understand because Goth is so German and Industrial.
Do you ever get annoyed when someone defines you in the wrong genre or is the concept of genre useless at this point?
I think any artist or musician would say that genre is conflicting against what they are trying to do and what we are trying to create. I am one of those people that think it is limiting to say I am Goth, when really I like things that are challenging and difficult. This might be considered Goth because it is easy to prescribe a cartoon idea of emotion to it. Goth has become a cartoon so they like to consider you it because it is easier for them, which is fine but lazy on their part.
Who do you think is listening to your music?
Everyone. When I see the audience, it is so exciting and thrilling. Every type of person is there, and that is what I have always wanted. I have always been the kind of person that wants to connect on a human level as to not alienate anyone.
On your website, you link to many different magazines and art collectives. Are these collectives friends or organizations you have collaborated with?
They are things I really want to support. I am so glad you noticed that because I feel like I have this voice so I want to speak about things I am really interested in or believe in'mostly artistically. Hopefully, people who read my website or read my interviews will research and grow their own taste. While growing up, I would read interviews with artists and they would talk about people they are interested in, and then I would research those people. That is another way to grow your music taste and point of references for music.
Have you found that those organizations are garnering more buzz because of your shout-outs?
I hope so! A lot of them are really great! I really love UbuWeb and the Avant Garde Project and Brainwashed, which is an amazing music website. They deserve so much more credit. They have been around forever. Organizations like that are important in keeping the culture alive of avant-garde music and alternative underground music.