Last month, Nika Roza Danilova (Zola Jesus) shared "Lost," the lead single from her sixth studio LP. Arkhon, Danilova's first album since 2017's Okovi, is set to arrive May 20 via Sacred Bones. She's now shared the record's second offering, "Desire," along with a video from veteran New York photographer and filmmaker A.F. Cortes.
Danilova is best known for her eerie electronic experiments, but the new track is a simply arranged, slow-burning ballad. “‘Desire’ was written in one sitting at my piano at home," she says. "The song was an exorcism for my pain and lack of closure around heartbreak. Sometimes songs are written simply for the cathartic effect of playing them. This is one of those songs. Performing it feels like the most tangible way to experience that closure for myself. Some days I would sit at home playing this song over and over on my piano, just to provide myself that sense of control over what I was feeling. I recorded the song at the studio in one take, and also got video while I was there to document the memory of the performance. The footage of that day is the core of the video for ‘Desire.’”
The video, shot in Cortes' characteristically hi-def black-and-white palette, intersperses that studio footage with familiar shots of Danilova in religious garb, alternately veiled and staring directly through the camera, totally devoid of visible emotion until her face suddenly twists under the weight of a terrifying, silent scream.
“I’ve seen Zola Jesus perform live many times in the past," Cortes writes. "Still, nothing prepared me to see the vulnerability of this piece unfolding as it was performed in front of my camera. It was visceral, personal, and profoundly moving. From that first shoot day, I knew I wanted to complement the live performance with a parallel story: A tale of grief, loss, and the capacity of a cathartic metamorphosis to overcome personal trauma. All set in a minimal space, a transitional moment of learning how to let go of the baggage of a previous existence. In making this piece I wanted to capture a unique moment in time that reflects the vulnerability of the music.”