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Former Model Carmen Villain Sure Makes Weird, Awesome Music

Former Model Carmen Villain Sure Makes Weird, Awesome Music
Photo: Adina Fohlin

The Norwegian-Mexican Ontime Fashionista Twists The Blues Into Icy Soundscapes

By Marlon Bishop
May 21, 2013

Name: Carmen Villain

Where She’s From?: Oslo, Norway (but currently residing in London, UK)

When She Started?: 2011

Genre: Indie/Experimental

For Fans Of: Deer Tracks, Ólöf Arnalds

Sounds Like: A cold wind blows across a barren plain. We’d all slit our wrists, but can’t be bothered.

Perhaps you’ve been at a runway show and thought to yourself that in the inner spaces of the high fashion world, behind the sunken eyes of half-starved models, darkness must dwell.

The music of Carmen Hillestad seems to exist to confirm that hypothesis. Hillestad is a stunning beauty of Norwegian and Mexican heritage who spent a decade modeling for top designers and posing on magazine covers before she decided to leave that world, pick up a guitar and adopt the alias Carmen Villain. The sounds that came out of that guitar were fractured and intense, a corrupted take on the blues that expresses not sadness but the swirling weirdness of the mind.

Carmen Villain’s first album, Sleeper, was released this March, featuring Hillestad herself playing almost all the instruments. Purposefully a bit off-kilter and rough around the edges, the record creates this very rich, very complete sonic world that sucks you in right away. The scary thing is that when you there listening, it’s uncertain whether or not it will let you out. Check out one of the album standouts “Made a Shell” below, and if you are feeling it, watch her video for “Easy” here.

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