I suppose it would be natural, if you grew up relatively isolated in a Wisconsin forest, to find yourself fascinated by cities. And so it is for the 24-year-old Russian-American singer Nika Roza Danilova, best known as Zola Jesus. In the video for her song "Fall Back," from the new album Versions, we see Nika in two settings: the vast coldness of urban concrete and the nature of the forest. "Shooting in the forest was very important," Nika writes. "The forest is raw and naked, which is in line for my intent for Versions. The concrete represents fixedness and composure — an attempt to create solid order in an otherwise chaotic environment."
"Fall Back" is the only new song on Versions, the fourth Zola Jesus album, which also includes nine previously released songs newly recorded in a stripped-down, string-driven collaboration with J.G. Thirlwell (who some might know from his project Foetus) and the New York-based Mivos Quartet.
The video for "Fall Back," created in collaboration with the New York-based director Allie Avital, was inspired by the Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara, architecht Frank Lloyd Wright and Soviet-era Yugoslavian monuments. "When I wrote 'Fall Back,' I was thinking of those moments in your life when you know exactly what you want, and how it is in that instant of knowing that you commit yourself to the unbending stamina of your own will," Nika writes. "You relinquish control to instincts. The video communicates the stillness of conviction. By capturing the point when the eye fixes the target. There is very little movement, as it is not about getting that thing you want, but knowing that it will be yours."
Avital writes that she sees the film as a "minimalist exploration of geometry and forms in nature. We wanted to express emotion through the visual language of the elements, combined with kinetic cinematography and austere styling."
The idea of shooting in the forest, Nika Roza Danilova says, was central: "It reminds me of where I come from."
Zola Jesus will be touring this string-based project across the U.S. and Europe starting next month.