Perfect Touring Style: Zola Jesus Rocks Hard, Travels Light

Zola & Rack 2
For us, Zola Jesus isn't just a "girl crush." Our obsession with neo-diva Nika Danilova's lush, goth-pop is no passing schoolgirl fancy. It's true love.
Funny thing about this larger-than-life powerhouse: Zola — er, Nika — is herself quite tiny. When she invited us to dig around her hotel room (with its glamorous carpet) at South By Southwest, we noticed that all she carried on the road was her Marc Jacobs bowler bag thanks to a combo of no-frills living and small-sized pieces. Of course, she didn't just pack the garments and accessories expertly chosen by New York stylist Jenni Hensler. A couple of dog-eared sci-fi novels, loads of songwriting materials, and custom-made shoes also made the trip in her Zola Jesus-branded bag (want!!!).
Nika was nice enough to unzip, unpack, and reveal the treasures she takes on tour.
What are these custom shoes? Can you tell us about them?
"I have a really hard time finding shoes that I like. I was looking on the internet to find a few pairs, and I came across Julia Kaldy. I just loved them. I emailed her, and I didn't realize that she was a conceptual designer, and she doesn't even really make wearable shoes. But she said she could make them for me! She's amazing, so I'm really excited."
When you are gone for months at a time, how do you pack? Do you just bring everything?
"I've kind of learned the art of packing. I only bring things that I know that I feel good in, and that I'm gonna wear. So, if you're like, 'Oh, I can maybe make this work...,' don't bring it, because it's just going to sit there until the end. So, I usually just bring things that I know I love, and wear them every day."
Photographed by Isaac Pritzker
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Is there a big change between your day-to-day fashion and your stage fashion?
"Not really, actually. Sometimes I will just wear the same thing I am wearing during the day on stage. But at the same time, when you're on stage or at a job interview, you have to 'dress up' a little bit. I like to change clothes and pay respect to that."
Where is your suitcase?
"My purse is downstairs. Wait, you mean my bag bag."
Yeah. You can't keep all of your stuff in that little bowler, can you?
"Yep, this is what I brought. I usually take out my clothes and hang them up. You just gotta get to the point of knowing this is what you'll wear and this is what you'll feel good in. But my underwear and tube tops go in here, with leggings, shirts, and jewelry. It all fits! Even my reading light!"
Photographed by Isaac Pritzker

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