Cristina Bautista's Gold Stars

Why she awards them to Krist Novoselic and Ted Leo, but not Avril Lavigne.

The Situation I'm spending the night before Thanksgiving at Ballard's Hazlewood with Cristina Bautista, the tiny 24-year-old Visqueen bassist and solo artist. Bautista learned the guitar at age 9 when her mom taught her to play "House of the Rising Sun"; started her first band, Paxil Rose, at 14; and joined Visqueen in 2009, around the time she switched to the bass full-time. "I play a ham-fisted guitar," she says. "I feel more natural writing songs on the bass."

How She Got Here Bautista's an East Coast transplant: She lived in New Jersey with her single mom until she was 11, when Bautista taught her to use the Internet, which then allowed Mom to reconnect with an old flame who lived in Seattle. The two moved west soon after. "I loved it right away," says Bautista. "The first day I moved here, I saw [Nirvana bassist] Krist Novoselic crossing the street!"

In June, Bautista moved back to Seattle after trying out life as a student at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. It didn't work out. "Everyone wanted to get rich and famous," she says. "I was the only one saying 'I want to tour! I want to be the sixth person in a four-person car and sell CDs out of the trunk.' " She now spends her days looking after her elderly grandmother, whom she was named after. "I'm learning to speak Tagalog," she says. "I know how to say 'My back hurts.' "

Shop Talk Now that Visqueen's played its final show, Bautista's focusing on her solo career. (Of fronting her own band, she says, "I had a really great example set for me with Rachel [Flotard].") In September, Flotard's Local 638 released Bautista's Gold Parts EP (Gold Parts is also the name she gives her backing band). While writing the EP's songs, she listened to a lot of Ted Leo—which explains their explosive power-pop melodies—and PJ Harvey—whose influence can be heard in the songs' vulnerable emotional depths.

Bautista says the angsty subject matter of songs like "Heartless" and "I Don't Want You" was inspired by a cheating ex-boyfriend, whom she refers to as "the terrible jerk one." Happy epilogue: She's now in a nice relationship with Young Evils guitarist Cody Hurd, who shares a home with her and her dog Leo, named after Ted.

BTW: Gold Parts isn't Bautista's first solo effort; at 18 she recorded an album and then shared it with a focus group as part of a class in music business. "They all said it sounded like someone who could tour with Avril Lavigne," she remembers. "I wanted to quit then." She's since transformed her brand of rock—"It's still pop," she says, "but I hope it's much more mature."

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