Spotlight of the Week: Jesus Villa

Jesus Villa is a singer-songwriter whose music is heartful as it is catchy. Mixing folk and blues, his most recent single “Sticky Buns” came out in December and is his fourth annual Christmas single. He also plays in acoustic cover band The Front Porch Rockers.

ME: To start, how did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?

JESUS: The short of it is, during the pandemic I was looking for different ways to stay connected and grow as a musician. Somehow on my feed WMV’s stuff was popping up and I started following what Allison was doing and I ended up reaching out to her and connecting. I told her at the time I thought that she was right on, and not even just in the context of the pandemic – she was building something that locally made sense. So we had a conversation, and it wasn’t long after that when she had me on one of her Sunday brunches and it grew from there. She’s good at the upsell and I truly mean that as a compliment.

ME: I similarly commend her on her upselling abilities. Once you know what you’re in for you can’t really say no.

JESUS: This is true!

ME: So your most recent song is “Sticky Buns.” Tell me how this song originated.

JESUS: This is the fourth year that I’ve released a holiday single. “Sticky Buns” was actually written last Christmas season but not released until this year and is based on an absolutely true tradition in my house. Every year on Christmas morning my wife makes her mother’s sticky bun recipe and my kids always grab one when they go open presents. There’s usually some sort of food tradition for the holidays everyone has, and that’s ours.

ME: Yes. For my family we have monkey bread on Christmas.

JESUS: There you go! I did release a music video where she agreed to be in it and we had a lot of fun making it. That’s a time honored tradition, for us singer-songwriters to write about our lovers’ sweet buns (laughs).

ME: It’s affectionate.

ME: I’ve noticed over time from covering your music that you are a very seasons-oriented person; you write a lot about the times of year. What role do the seasons play in your rhythm as an artist?

JESUS: That’s a really interesting question. I hadn’t been conscious of it but I think you’re right. Part of why I like living in Wisconsin is because I like the seasons and the cyclical nature of time passing. People talk about their favorite times of year but I’ve got to say that if I lived in a place that didn’t really have that cycle, none of it would feel right. I think even winter is beautiful and that there’s a lot of positive things with it. You look back at what brought you to this moment but you also look ahead with what might be next. So I think it makes sense to center the song in the season they are created.

ME: I like the way you put that. I guess there’s some merit to the Midwest where we do get the seasons as they are culturally depicted. Spring and fall unfortunately get cut short a bit but I’d say we had a pretty solid fall this past year.

JESUS: For sure. A year ago I released the song “Hibernation” which is another seasonal one. I’m not good at taking breaks; I always have to be doing something or be in motion, but winter helps me settle down. You have to spend time simplifying things and it really is good for us.

ME: I wholeheartedly agree. Today was brutal though, I didn’t even leave the house today (laughs).

ME: What did you do for the New Year?

JESUS: It was pretty quiet because the week leading up to it my family and I went down to Nashville. My oldest lives down there and it was so great getting together but by the end of the week we were pretty tired. I’ve got to admit I was in bed before 11 (laughs).

ME: So was my mom. My family and I all had COVID so we couldn’t do anything anyway.

JESUS: Did you all pull through it okay?

ME: We did. It was just like a weird cold.

ME: My last question for you is, what are you working on now?

JESUS: At the start of every year I always focus on strategic planning. I’ve got two different endeavors; one is my solo songwriting work and the other is my band The Front Porch Rockers where we’re mostly thinking to the summer because we’re an acoustic cover band, and to be honest that’s kind of the revenue source for my business. For my solo writing, the main thing I’m working on right now is that I’ve decided it’s time to actually get a backing band. I’ve recruited some musicians and I’ve got a rehearsal space and I’m excited for that. That’s what’s in for the first quarter of the year.

Visit Jesus Villa’s website here.

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