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Baker's Dozen

A Zola Jesus Baker's Dozen: 13 LPs By Women Who Inspired Me To Sing
Luke Turner , August 27th, 2013 08:32

Zola Jesus (Nika Rosa Danilova) gives us a special Baker's Dozen - 13 albums by female singers who inspired her to find her own voice

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I first saw Zola Jesus play live around Halloween 2010, on a trip to Austin, Texas to interview for her for an NME feature. It was during the Austin City Limits Festival, which basically seemed like SXSW without the pressure of having a load of bellends with expense accounts rampaging through town. Nevertheless, the streets were pretty packed with people heading from venue to steak place to bar to gig. I sat on the pavement outside the venue, and spoke to Nika Rosa Danilova about how the press had her pigeonholed: "all 'Goth this, goth this, witchcraft, banshee, occult, all these terms'".  She insisted that "my pop songs are really dorky. I love noise, and industrial, and 20th Century avant-garde classical music, but I also love R&B, pop music, soul, and funk. To me, my pop side is blatantly overpowering the other side - but people just want to forget it." Later that evening, her rather quiet speaking voice outside on the street was transformed, tracks from her Stridulum album given full-throated, soaring power. Now Danilova's voice is given a new foil in the form of the arrangements of JG Thirlwell on the album Versions. We asked Danilova to choose her 13 favourite albums for a Baker's Dozen, and she went one better: "The list is comprised of female vocalists who taught me the power of the human voice, and inspired me to free my own." Click the image below to begin the countdown.


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eric benoit
Aug 27, 2013 1:56pm

Brilliant selections. While Diamanda was a welcome entry, I was especially excited to see a nod to Jessye Norman in there.

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Aug 27, 2013 10:34pm

A cool list, and it's good to see some appreciation for 'Amplicon'. That record is downright terrifying!

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Aaron C.
Aug 27, 2013 10:52pm

Good to see Zola Jesus stretching the boundaries of the Baker's Dozen format, this selection is essentially a primer of maverick female voices who've pushed against the constraints of genre and expectation. These records should be on the syllabus of every music institution, and played to any young singer still determining the nature of their own specific voice. Other inspiring, unorthodox female singers include Annette Peacock (especially I'm the One), Cathy Berberian, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Buffy Saint Marie (try the Illuminations LP),
Betty Davis, Karen Dalton, Dagmar Krause, Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance, certain tracks by Big Mama Thornton and Koko Taylor, Jennifer Herrima from Royal Trux, Brigitte Fontaine, and Anne Briggs.

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Aug 28, 2013 10:14am

anyone else find that, after about the 5th record, these bakers dozens shift over to italic font?

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Aug 28, 2013 3:58pm

Re Junko; Having just attempted to do so, Ms Jesus could have stopped at: "It's impossible to listen to her."

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Aug 28, 2013 10:39pm

cool list but missing Jarboe seems like a slap in my face

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Aug 29, 2013 8:53am

No Om Kalsoum, what a pity. Nevertheless an excellent Baker's Dozen.

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Samantha C
Aug 29, 2013 7:11pm

Loved this piece, discovering some great singers I didn't previously know from it. I hope more RJ choices use this sort of approach.

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Aug 29, 2013 11:49pm

In reply to austy:

I second that

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Ed Cefala
Aug 30, 2013 5:32am

1.Without too much review of the other entries, but having heard only the Alabama Harp convention its curious that any kid would be exposed to any of this music.

2. The italics issue was fixed or never existed.

3. I always give the pop advertising line to people who haven't heard Zola Jesus singing that she's like Siouxsie Sioux crossed with Madonna. It isn't accurate but like mixing orange juice with rojenia for the kids, it makes more peoples listen more than one might expect.

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michel henritzi
Sep 18, 2014 3:10pm

junko had never urinated on stage in hijokaïdan, it was another member, i forgot her name. junko has still been the amazing screamer, nothing else.

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