- Tue, 2011-03-29 12:01
Defiant Canadian pop star Fefe Dobson walked away from her major label deal in her late teens, determined to create her own blend of pop music. Since then, she's won significant praise in her home country, including Juno Nominations, packed out tours across Canada and a bulging home-grown fanbase.
Now Fefe is venturing across the shores, with an aim to entince fans further afield. I Like Music caught up with Fefe to chat about touring with Justin Timberlake the last time she was in the UK, her love of rock n roll, performing infront of Bruce Springsteen and Green Day and her second album Joy.
"I Like Music because… it saved me.” Fefe Dobson
ILM: How would you describe your music, your sound?
Fefe: Joy is my second album release. My first album came out in 2003. I’ve been working on this album for four years. Writing-wise, this is based on relationships and the last four years of my life - the trials and tribulations of love, being set free from chains holding me back. It’s really just like a female journal. Musically it would be categorised on the shelf of a record store in the rock/pop section. For me the energy’s foundation is rock and roll and the melodies are more pop driven.
ILM: You’ve been performing since you were young. How did you get to where you are now?
Fefe: I’ve been singing since I was a little kid! I was born into music. My mum played records all the time from Michael Jackson to Bob Marley, Lionel Richie, The Bee Gees, Phil Collins, Pearl Jam and Tears for Fears. My sister is a bit older than me, so she was at that point in her life where she’d be cutting her jeans short and playing songs by Guns’n’Roses, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. I was literally smack in the middle of those different genres and artists. That’s what inspired me to do music in the first place; the love of it and the escape.
ILM: How did you develop as a musician?
Fefe: My Mom saved up a lot of money one year for Christmas. She really couldn’t spend money on anything else, we didn’t have a lot of money in the house in the first place and she was a single parent. But she bought me this karaoke machine that could take words off any CD or tape you put in it! I started making demos that way; putting them on cassette tapes and sending them out to record companies whose names I’d found on the back of CDs. My Mom couldn’t afford the lawyer and the manager to get the material out there in the first place, she had to start hiding all the return notes as they were really hard for me, for any young girl really, to handle. To cut a long story short basically a company in Canada liked me and we started working together. We made a plan that lasted a few years; a woman of colour with a pop voice basically. But I walked away from that opportunity at fifteen years of age.
ILM: That must have taken a lot of strength?
Fefe: I had this vision of guitars and drums; more organic sounding music. I met the producer who created the first record with me and then through him I met my manager. The rest is history really. My producer and I carved out what I wanted to do musically. It was a long journey.
ILM: Who are some of your musical heroes?
Fefe: It always changes as I get older as I find more music or go back to my roots and what I grew up on. It all speaks to me from different points in my life. I hadn’t heard a Beatles record until I was 16! My mom never played classic rock in the house so I became a huge Beatles fanatic and then after that came Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash. I’m influenced by a lot of classic rock and good old pop songwriter music like Phil Collins and Bette Midler.
ILM: What can we expect if we come to see you live?
Fefe: You can expect a lot of energy! It’s loud, wet and there’s hair flinging everywhere as I throw my head around! It’s very fun. It’s almost like I finally get loose and am released from a cage. I just go wild, which I love. I love performing because I get to meet new people and connect with those who want to come see a live show; connecting is a very important aspect of what I do.
ILM: Out of everything you’ve achieved so far, which have been some of the best moments?
Fefe: When I came to the UK about eight years ago with my first record, I toured with Justin Timberlake! That was an awesome experience. He’s a super star and amazingly talented! Just recently at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony I got to sing River Deep Mountain High in front of a crazy audience, lots of writers and artists including Bruce Springsteen, Green Day and Meryl Streep! I shared the stage with Rob Thomas and a bunch of other amazing musicians so that’s one of the highlights so far in my career. There’s been a few really! Writing with Cyndi Lauper, writing with Joan Jet, hearing their stories of overcoming obstacles, being a woman in rock and roll, Joan and her stories of what she’s had to fight through... I’ve had a lot of great moments so far!
ILM: What’s left to achieve, what are your future plans?
Fefe: I’m just going to keep spreading my music and doing shows worldwide. In the future I’d like to do some arenas! I’ll keep releasing albums, keep meeting new people and just bring my album Joy to the world...!