Zola Jesus performing in Germany in 2012
|Birth name||Nicole Rose Hummel|
April 11, 1989 |
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
The word 'theatrical' makes me cringe, because it suggests a performance is staged, put on, rehearsed. And while all this is true for an opera, I believe the act of singing and performing should always be honest, raw, guttural.
I don't know why people think I'm a Goth – that's a misconception.
True expression is hard when performing opera. The problem is that opera relies on the dramatic context of the piece. It can be interpreted and represented, but there are guidelines; there is a vocabulary within the pieces that you must know objectively and reflect.
People don't really understand who I am. They always think that I'm very dark or depressed, but it couldn't be further from the truth!
The greatest benefit of being a solo performer is that it is seriously frightening, but at the same time very empowering. It's just you and the audience. All the weight is on you to deliver the songs.
As a child, I was always making sound; it was a compulsion. I loved to scream and yell and sing; it freed me from all the thoughts in my head. I begged for opera lessons because opera singing is the most formidable, most emotional way to use your voice.
No matter what you do, if there's something you're afraid of, you need to break through it.
I try to create songs that are really massive and intense, but at the same time remaining honest and raw.
I guess something people wouldn't expect me to listen to are artists like Alicia Keys. But she is so incredibly talented. She has this huge voice and great work ethic, which I really respect in an artist. She is also very humble and gracious and devoted to her skill.
The only reason I would write a break-up song is because my own problem of allowing myself to relate to people.
I started performing opera when I was 10 years old. I didn't perform as Zola Jesus until I was probably 18.
My music started as a way to break through weaknesses – like anxiety, which was completely taking over my whole life, where I could barely function.
I don't find much influence in opera. It was such a different part of me.
Everything I do is a reflection of the duality within me. Musically, I really love things that are very synthetic and unnatural. And I also like the organic and human… the intrinsic, I guess.
It sounds kind of stupid, but I've never not wanted to be a musician. It's been inside me since I was little so I don't know what else I would do.