American singer-songwriter and musician Nika Roza Danilova aka Zola Jesus has released a new album called Arkhon which is out now via Sacred Bones. According to the press release, Zola Jesus’s new album, Arkhon, finds new ways of losing that submerged, stalled pain. Not long after she had started writing the songs that would comprise the record, Danilova found herself stuck in a creative barrens, a spell of writer’s block more stifling than any she’d experienced before. “It got to the point where I couldn’t even listen to music. Everything sounded the same,” she says.
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 realized 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. His daring, askance patterning would come to help define the sound of the record. Relinquishing a degree of control over her music and hearing others contribute to it began to thaw the creative block that had kept her from working. “I felt that I was able to finally hear my music in a context that was broader than what I could do on my own,” Danilova says.