Zola Jesus (aka Nicole Hummel) is an American singer/songwriter who popped up as a ‘recommended artist’ on a popular music streaming site while I was listening to the likes of Chelsea Wolfe and Murkur. Her musical style combines elements of electronic, goth, industrial and classical music to create a sound which is quite unique. On Monday night she played a sold out show at the 320-capacity Omeara in London and I went along to check it out.
Despite it being just round the corner from my office, I had never been to Omeara before. It is a beautiful venue that is super-intimate and features shabby-chic peeling paint on the walls and distressed wooden floorboards on the stage. When I arrived there were just a hand-full of other people there – mainly lining the stage – but the place soon filled up for this sold out show.
First to hit the stage was London-based artist Jylda, who wore a large white coat and green trousers. Her music was more electronic than anything I am used to but it is always nice to experience something new. It was great to watch her get lost in the music she was creating, which featured samples and a backing-track created via her laptop accompanied by soaring vocals and some expressive dance-moves. I swayed and bopped along to her set, which included her latest single “The Body”.
Next to hit the stage was another female electronic artist – Ah! Kosmos (aka Başak Günak) who was born in Istanbul but now based in Berlin. Ah! Kosmos’ setup featured a keyboard, laptop and some knobs which I am sure did something wonderful as she twizzled them, and she wore a lovely sparkly silver jacket which caught the light beautifully and made her great to photograph. I enjoyed the energy she brought to the stage, and the found sounds that she sampled in her music which gave it extra depth and interest. She was very engaging to watch as she created some great sounds from the myriad of electronic devices in front of her.
Zola Jesus made quite the entrance when she took to the barely-lit stage draped in red fabric and opened her set with the atmospheric “Veka” from her most recent album Okovi. She was joined on stage by a violinist and guitarist, and a projector at the front of the stage shone textured light onto her and her band. By this point the tiny character-full room was absolutely rammed, and there was a great atmosphere. Zola Jesus’ performance was very dramatic, and had a different vibe from the other two artists who had gone before; there was definitely a dark vibe to her set, which included my personal favourite “Dangerous Days” from her 2014 album Taiga, as well as a great selection of tracks from her back-catalogue.
Photos by Katie Frost Photography