15 July 2021
Fargo-based musician Jessica VInes’ music is catchy.. in fact it’s downright infectious. A classically trained jazz vocalist, she’s collaborated with a number of area musicians such as blues rockers The Knotties to the hip hop stylings of Diane Miller.
She recently announced a move to California in September so naturally we had to flag her down to talk about her video “Delicious,” establishing a routine during lockdown and to see where her next chapter will take her. Her farewell show will be July 30, at The Hall in Fargo.
HPR: So what prompted your move to California?
Jessica Vies: Well, honestly, over this last year, I wasn't able to do any performing. And I had kind of just realized how content I was, and how awesome, I think that the life that I've built for myself in Fargo is and how great my friends are...
I just got to kind of spend that whole year working on the project that I put out back in April, but it was starting to kind of feel easy. I was like, well, okay, now's the time-- I don't have a partner, I don't have kids, like I work for myself. So it's kind of now or never, and I thought that kind of with this restart after this last year would be a good time. I knew I wanted to move to a bigger music city and I have the most connections in LA, because being from Riverside, California, which is pretty far outside of it, but still in that state. And just like all of the connections I made at college, it kind of made the most sense. Yeah, so it kinda was like realizing how happy I was-- and I was like, wait a minute, I gotta, I gotta try to do something before I get too settled in.
HPR: So how did you end up in Fargo in the first place? You're from California, right?
JV: Yep. Yeah, so I'm from Riverside, California. I moved here when I was 17. I moved because my dad got a job in the area. And so my whole family packed up and moved and they have since moved on, but I've stayed in Fargo.
HPR: Why did you decide to stay in Fargo?
JV: It was my senior year when I moved here. So I kind of figured I might as well stay in the area, go to college...and I met some really, really great music friends and everything just kind of fell into place and worked out really well for me here. So like, I started working with other musicians and I was in a band right outside of college-- that was my main income. After that, I started working on my own stuff and started writing. So I really used the time that I had here to work my craft and kind of figure out what it is that I actually like doing and who I am as an artist. I mean, if I could continue to pursue doing some of the bigger things that I want to do here in Fargo. I definitely would today but it's just one of those things where it's like, you don't really have as many opportunities not being in those bigger cities.
HPR: And you can always come back -- that's the best part about it.
JV: Right out of college was like I gotta get Out of Fargo-- It's so small, like there's nothing to do here. And then you actually put your best foot forward and you're like, no, this is an amazing community. And there are so many opportunities and the community is so supportive of those that want to try and do things that they're passionate about. I think before had I moved away and had to come back, it would have really felt like a negative thing. But now it's like, if I'm coming back, it's because I love Fargo and I want to be here and I want to be in the community again.
HPR: So is there an artist in particular that really inspired you as a vocalist?
JV: Rachel Price from Lake Street Dive is like my favorite band And hearing that she also was a jazz major in college, and she met all of her bandmates in college, which was really similar to the group I was playing in at the time when I first discovered them, I was so excited. I still am so inspired by her voice in general, but also just how technical she is, and her stylistic choices are just so tasty. So I would say she's probably my favorite vocalist that's doing the thing right now.
HPR: Tell us about “Delicious.” What was it like, preparing for a music video?
JV: Yeah, that one in particular was really interesting, because it was the first time that I did a narrative music video with a storyline kind of. I worked with Wyatt Ellis who's based out of Bismarck. I kind of came to him with this idea of how this whole song is about being in love with your everyday life, even the more mundane things like being really in love with your routine and when you kind of find yourself in a routine that just feels right.
I was like, I don't have a partner. And I feel like a lot of my friends would relate more to having the someone you’re excited to come home to is like, actually just your dog. I pitched that idea to him. And he's like, yes, I'm into it. And then he kind of came up with going to the grocery store, making dinner-- like we won't reveal that it's a dog yet... So it was a really fun collaborative effort. And then his idea to have Diane (Miller) do her verse in the laundry mat. It was unique. It was sometimes awkward when you're performing something and people are in the grocery store, getting their groceries and they're like, why are all these people dancing along to a song?
HPR: How did you spend your time during lockdown? Do you feel like that affected your music?
JV: Yeah, definitely. I really tried to use that time to be like, Alright, what would a nine to five musician’s life look like? And I really tried to kind of stick to a schedule and I really made an effort to practice five days a week. Like wake up, workout, practice, write and then I'll teach.
And, like, I really kind of enjoyed that. Like, having to stick to a schedule.
And like, that's kind of where the idea for “Delicious” came from.. like, really enjoying and feeling like you earned that beer with dinner. Because you've made it through the day, you know?
I think it definitely kind of changed even the way that I think about practicing and how I make it a priority. In that whole year I spent working on my project. So, which was all done for the most part remotely, which was another really cool thing, I worked with a musician in LA. We did an EP together. And that was 100% remote. It was really interesting to see how sometimes you don't even need to be in the same room to like, still get that connection and energy and still make it a really cool collaborative experience.
HPR: Did you do any live streams or anything like that?
JV: Yeah, I did a few live streams, like Live Wire did their live stream series, and I performed on that quite a few times. And then (my band mate) Connor and I did one we did like a social media takeover with Jade Presents, and then we did one of our own-- just like, a living room thing.
I definitely could feel like when it first started, and artists first started doing those live streams. It was really exciting, and then you could definitely tell after a year, people are like, alright, we need to change it up. So it was tricky, it's kind of like when you're an artist, you don't play in the same city every single night because then people won't come out because they can just see you tomorrow. So, creating that demand via Livestream was even more difficult than even performing. It was a great way to still do something and to kind of get that performance itch scratched. Although, I will say I got more nervous for those livestreams than any show.
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