You might know Jessica Villegas as the lone girl in Foxholes, slappin da bass. She also rocks a badass half-shaved hairstyle. Villegas was always destined to go down a creative path. Her father, Johnnie, DJs around Des Moines, that is when he’s not playing percussion for Canby; and her mother Susan was constantly working on different projects, like painting, when she was growing up. It was only right that she take up both mediums. While music is one of her passions, she’s also a visual artist who makes incredible paintings. In fact, the entire living room of her apartment is a studio, with one half devoted to music and the other to painting.
She’s constantly at work on something and is now venturing out on her own with her debut solo performance tonight at the Des Moines Social Club’s Basement Bar. She joins Eden Stokka and Jennifer Hall on an all lady bill cuz girls rule and boys drool. The show will be a different vibe from Foxholes in that Villegas is taking a self-described more experimental route with her solo work. Here’s a peak at what’s been influencing her lately.
“Human Sadness” by Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
The first time I officially met Trevor Holt (of Foxholes) we talked about The Strokes and Julian Casablancas all night at a party. We bonded so hard over him that we have a band now. Just kidding about the band thing, but seriously that’s what our first night of friendship was about. I regret nothing. This song, literally, takes me through a gauntlet of low emotions. I’m surprised I come back from its trip every time this 12 minute song ends. The beautiful and simple bass line really draws me in. Then when the song begins to fall apart I'm drawn back in just to get thrown into another destructive center of noise. It's awesome. I like to throw this album on if I'm having a hard time trying to start a painting. I don't know if it’s just my undying love for Julian Casablancas talking but this song is great. **on repeat** Also just heard The Strokes are back in studio. MORE, JULIAN MORE.
“The Boy is a Tramp” by Crocodiles
I feel like I'm in some kind of lucid dream state when I listen to this song. He starts singing and it's like floating on one of those Mario clouds that you can never actually touch. I see colors that could replicate an O'keefe painting when I hear the all of the guitar sounds. They make different line thicknesses and colours pop all at once. I love it when I can actually see songs in my head. Midway through the song they throw you into this really beautiful guitar tone that I've kind of been trying to emulate with my solo stuff. I love their guitar tones.I'm a new Crocodiles fan, but giiiirl am I glad I found them in my random searches through the vast interwebs. They can take me to their Mario cloud anytime, except for when I'm on a run. That's what the next song is for.
“Baby’s on Fire” by Brian Eno
This first time I ever heard of Brian Eno was in a song by MGMT. I loved that song but I had no idea what I was getting into the first time I bought an Eno album. The dude is weird in a way I can only hope to be. Visceral is the best way to describe this song. It makes me pedal a lot on my bicycle, probably because of the repetition. Our guitarist (of Foxholes), Kyle Folvag, would probably fucking despise this song. For me, it’s a pusher and just weird enough for me to keep coming back to for long bike rides and runs.
“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
I saw Nick Cave a few years ago at Coachella. He inched along the stage eyeing the massive audience, a panther stalking his prey. His deep voice echoed through the crowd that night and I couldn't take my eyes off the stage. I was hooked after I saw him there. God, I fucking love Nick Cave. He is my kind of weirdo. Creepy, depressing, always talking about death. His voice is so smooth and draws you in even though you want to stay away. It’s like the Devil calling you to the forbidden fruit of cool music. I'm the kind of person who goes bone hunting with some of my friends. Most of my paintings have some kind of bone or death theme for one reason or another. I like to use the term "Nick Cave-y" when describing them. This song in particular is in an episode of The X-files, which happens to be one of my favorite shows EVER. It's probably been stuck in my head because I am, yet again, re-watching the eight seasons in prep for the new one coming out.
“Gila” by Beach House
Oh sweet, sweet Beach House. I had a really strange relationship with this band for a long time. I hated them sometimes and loved them at other times. Depression Cherry was probably a good title for their newest album because their music is quite depressing. It's also beautiful. Now that I have a grasp on the beauty you can rip out of depression it makes even more music available for my listening pleasure. I got the pleasure of seeing them live not too long ago. The entire audience was under some kind of a spell during that show. I feel the same way every time I listen to the tape I bought at that show. I could not stop smiling when I walked out of the venue.
“Knife” by Grizzly Bear
The vocals in this band are so great. I was completely floored when I saw them at Coachella and at Iowa City's Mission Creek festival. There were so many instruments on the stage! Their vocal melodies are beautiful. I spent a lot of time listening to this song out on the top of the dam thinking. It makes me think of an old friend and how we didn't work out for one reason or another. You really need to listen to the lyrics to let the song have its full effect on you. The song lasts for quite awhile after the lyrics stop, it leaves you thinking about what you just heard. There's so much going on in this song and so little all at once. The layers are light but fill out the song really well. I'm all about layering right now. This song actually kind of inspired me to use looping with my cello. It's creepy.
“Heavy Doctor” by Thee Oh Sees
Song classification: best running song EVER. This song got me through so many runs while I was training for a sprint triathlon this summer. When this song would come one during a run I'd get this rush of energy. It's like I'm trying to get away from a scary monster. It really hits you in the face when that guitar comes in the beginning. It pushes you. It’s up there on my work out playlist along with Brian Eno. If you want a full on dirty assault of the ears listen to this song.
“Volcano” by Beck
When I was in high school my art teacher, Mr. Weiss, was the greatest. In class one day
some girl asked a really stupid question and his quick, witty reply was, "I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me.” It was the best thing I have ever heard a teacher say to a student. That was the day I started listening to Beck. He changed my music listening experience from the get go with "Midnight Vultures." "Fucking Sex Laws"... what a great track. "Sea Change" is what really stuck with me, though. I was really happy when he came out with "Modern Guilt" when I was in college. I will always love this album with every fiber of my being. This song just makes me want to jump someone’s bones every time I hear it. The cover of Foxholes' album "Can't Help Myself" was actually originally created while listening to this song on repeat for a drawing class in college. It’s one of those things that’s comforting while stimulating all at once. I imagine it’s how I would feel if I was floating around in space with no clothes on, opposing the elements and seeing everything clearly for the first time. Add it to your "having sex" song list—trust me.