Zola Jesus Remixes Vera Sola’s “The Colony” and Unearths a Ghostly Haze (KEXP Premiere)

KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
photo by Damon Duke

Among many other things, Vera Sola is a poet, composer, Harvard literature scholar, and – of course – a songwriter. Although she’d written her own material over the years, it wasn’t until last year that she shared her music with another living soul. After serving as a touring member with Elvis Perkins’ band, Sola holed herself up in Native Sound Studio in St. Louis to record her songs for the first time ever, resulting in her debut album Shades, which she’ll self-release on Nov. 9. In the spirit of found object art, Sola used everything from bones to glass and filing cabinets to flesh out the folk arrangements she was creating.

The original version of the album’s single “The Colony” features Sola crooning with a vicious vibrato over brooding instrumentation that feels like it could’ve come from a long-lost spaghetti western classic. Sola was inspired to write the song after witnessing the native water protectors at Standing Rock, singing from the perspective of colonizers venturing to what’s now known as North America and claiming, defiling the land. The clatter of the rhythms and Sola’s merciless perspective of white colonialism is powerful in itself, but now the song has found itself diving even deeper into darkness.

Zola Jesus’ take on “The Colony” embraces the sinister edge stewing in Sola’s original song, unearthing swells of distorted bass drums and turning Sola’s voice into a ghostly haze. The pulse of the rhythms rattles viciously, shaking wildly alongside Sola herself. It creates a tension that’s drawn out throughout the entirety of the song, finally opening up to a clamor of beats erupting near the end. It’s hard to think of an artist more adept at breaking apart Sola’s already stirring work – performing a musical biopsy that stays true to the original’s core while and opening up new aural paths to the spirit of Sola’s work.

Listen to the remix and the original version of “The Colony” below.


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