Interview With Music Sensation Fefe Dobson
Island Def Jam veteran Fefe Dobson is now ready to embrace her roots with a new sophomore record “Joy”, conceptually showing off her own personal radio station switching from the grimes of light Rock N Roll and the bliss of care free pop.
Dobson busted into the eye of the music scene back in 2003 with spawned debuts like “Bye Bye Boyfriend “Don’t Go (Girls and Boys). Now back working on her new record Fefe showed pop purveyor’s she can really kill time the right way by writing infectious pop songs that were sung by both Disney princesses Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez… Now only days before the release of “Joy”, Fefe sat down to talk to me about her views on the music industry (Now vs Then.) Sessions from her unreleased album “Sunday Love” along with a shocking surprise from me acknowledging her about a demo from her new album surfacing online but she isn’t the one singing one the track.
Fefe Dobson: Hey!
Alex: Hey… How are you?
Fefe Dobson: I’m good, how are you!
Kazemi: I’m good! So it’s been a while since you’ve had a new single out, I remember in 2003 when “Bye Bye Boyfriend” came out and that year was kind of the transition from the super pop like N*SYNC and Britney, in her glory, to the new wave of rock/pop like Good Charlotte, Skye Sweetnam, Avril and plenty more. But then aside from “Everything” and “Bye Bye Boyfriend” there was ”Don’t Go” and that was super poppy…So I’m excited to see what you do with this record! You were also around when the music industry was healthy! No cancer! People bought CD’s in stores, music was on MTV, and marketing was different. As you lived the music industry in its glory, do you prefer it then rather then now?
Fefe Dobson: It has its pros and has its cons back from when I came out back in 2003 and the pros and cons of now, I mean yes then you had to buy a record at the store in order to really get it. I know sites posted clips and stuff but that was for the better, it was positive hype. You couldn’t get full tracks as easily as you could now, viral piracy was just beginning and now it has expanded to the point where you can get a track from anywhere, you can draw an mp3 out of a hat. I think for artists it either works for you or it works against you… What works for me is that I can give my fans from lets say my Twitter or Facebook fan page, information right from my mouth…That is brilliant. We didn’t have that before, we become more connected.
Kazemi: Well that’s interesting; I guess the only thing that has really changed is the easy access to MP3?s so quickly… I don’t want to get into it about “Sunday Love” but you wrote with Billy Steinberg who did “Like A Virgin”. How was that? Kind of epic in my eyes…
Fefe Dobson: Billy Steinberg is epic. He wrote so many amazing songs! “I Touch Myself”. “Alone” for Heart… It really is crazy! We wrote a bunch of songs on “Sunday Love,” “This Is My Life” and ” Don’t Let It Go to Your Head,” which then Jordin Sparks covered. A song called the “The Initiator.” There was a bunch; all those songs are really close in my heart.
Kazemi: You got to work with Joan Jett and Cyndi Lauper too?
Fefe Dobson: Yeah, that was super cool but the stuff didn’t make the record but I actually got to write with them.
Kazemi: Wasn’t Courtney Love involved with that record too?
Fefe Dobson: I actually didn’t write with Courtney. We just hung out a couple times and she kind of gave me a lot of insight.
Kazemi: Courtney is great. Do you have a favorite Hole song?
Fefe Dobson: Yeah… Uhm, probably “Doll Parts!”
Kazemi: Awesome, great song “Live Through This” is an amazing record. I know on your first album you hung up photos of Kurt in the studio t for inspiration, on this record what photos were hanging up?
Fefe Dobson: Ex Boyfriend photographs [laughs.]
Kazemi: [laughs.] So these ”Sunday Love” sessions got some notoriety from Miley Cyrus, Jordin Sparks and Selena Gomez. Were you ever intentionally going to be an outside song writer or did it all happen organically? How did these covers come about?!
Fefe Dobson: It really happened organically. When I was a kid, I use to write for Local boy bands in Toronto and I was like thirteen writing songs and writing songs for bands that were going to get started in the industry which I thought was kind of crazy. I’ve always been a writer, it kind of just fell in my plate when Miley did “Start All Over” then after that it kind of opened the doors, I’ve been writing for a lot of people.
Kazemi: Was “Start All Over” from the “Sunday Love” sessions as well?
Fefe Dobson: Yes, it was apart of the process from making that album, it never made the record but I wrote it when I was working on that record. I don’t even know how she heard about it, it was all boring business stuff. Her people probably found out [laughs.]
Kazemi: You kind of took on another Disney princess this summer. You wrote “Round & Round” for Selena Gomez… Was it always written for Selena or did you and Kevin have someone else at mind at first?
Fefe Dobson: That was the first time, Kevin and I wrote with each other, we kind of were just vibing and writing as a start off… I don’t think it was intended for anyone except maybe me. At the end of the session, we realized the song was too pop for me, so the next day Kevin came back to me and he goes “Hey, I think Selena Gomez is digging this track.” So I said ok cool. [Laughs]
Kazemi: All organic! You must’ve had kind of Disney demographic guidelines for censorship while writing for her. Was “Round & Round” different when Selena had it?
Fefe Dobson: It was definitely different because the song wasn’t written for Selena and I don’t really have any restrains against myself musically but a few lines had to be changed and what not but in general it’s the same song.
Kazemi: I guess we will never know what those few lines were! If you could work on any pop music project right now what would it be? Do you ever just sit around with like your note pad or however you write, thinking about a certain artist that can sing a song you’ve written?
Fefe Dobson: I’m going to make this short; I would love to write for Britney Spears [laughs.]
Fefe Dobson: I’ve never met her, which is kind of crazy because I’m friends with a lot of people around her.
Kazemi: Oh have you met with Dr.Luke, Benny Blanco or any of that camp?
Fefe Dobson: No no no, I’ve never worked with Dr.Luke. I don’t know if Britney is working with him.
Kazemi: He’s executively producing her seventh studio album.
Fefe Dobson: Oh really? Is that what the rumor is?
Kazemi: Sadly not a rumor, it has been confirmed in Billboard.. Recently a lot of people have noticed that he uses a lot of the same chord progressions and beats and I’m not very keen on Britney working with him as Britney’s production is usually fresh, new and exciting which gave her lots of notoriety quickly as she was just starting out.. So I don’t want that streak to end.
Fefe Dobson: Right!
Kazemi: So enough about songwriter Fefe. After four years of recording sessions for your “Joy” album…Were you kind of like a chameleon when it came to inspiration and sound?
Fefe Dobson: Exactly. I was a chameleon. When I was making this record things were changing all the time because I’m changing all the time. So the concept of what you’re writing about, even the chord progressions, everything sounds different because your emotions sound different. I wrote “I want you” and “Watch Me Move” almost four years ago, those were the first couple songs written for the “Joy” record. Those have been used in TV for a few years and now were all kind of putting it all together and put the album out. It’s never one thing that’s settled, it would be crazy if I was the same person after four years [laughs.]
Kazemi: Conceptual albums always seem to be fun. This one has something to do with a radio station right?
Fefe Dobson: Yes, it starts off like your changing through a radio station and you hear the white noise and what not. Then you go from the pop station half way through, and then it goes to my rock side and then a pop station again. I’ve always been put in the genre of “Rock/Pop.” So I was like “why not make it literal?”
I worked with J.R, Dave Lichens, Kevin Rudolf, and Claude Kelly. I didn’t work with a lot of producers on this record. I knew Claude and J.R before the album was even going to happen, so everything was really organic credits wise. I did some co production on it. I want people to enjoy this record and have fun, simply have a good time with it whether it’s dancing around on your bed or listen to it after screaming at your boyfriend. I’m looking forward for everyone to hear a song called “Can’t Breathe” produced by Bob Ezrin who did Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Orianthi plays guitar, it features her guitar talent on it [laughs.]
Kazemi: Ah… So someone who listens to “Don’t Go” every once in a while will get the new pop side and someone who listens to “Everything/Bye Bye Boyfriend” will get the new rock side?
Fefe Dobson: The best of both worlds. You get the pop side of me, the rock side of me.
Kazemi: I’m sure Bonnie McKee and Oliver Goldstein have covered some of the pop aside from J.R and Kevin Rudolf…
Fefe Dobson: They’re super great!
Kazemi: Oh yah! You know the demo of Bonnie McKee/Goldstein’s “Turn It Up” that leaked, did you originally write that for Ke$ha’s re-release of Animal, basically how did she end up singing that song?
Fefe Dobson: What song?
Kazemi: “Turn It Up.”
Fefe Dobson: Oh…. What about Ke$ha? This is news to me [laughs.]
Kazemi: You don’t know?
Fefe Dobson: NO? What is this?
Kazemi: Your version of “Turn It Up” leaked but Ke$ha is singing it. It’s only a clip though.
Fefe Dobson: NO WAY? Oh my god. Shut up? My song?
Kazemi: Yes, your song! “Turn It Up!”
Fefe Dobson: Oh my god, I’m totally shocked right now. Where did you find this?!
Kazemi: It’s definitely on YouTube.. All the pop blogs that are basically modern day music tabloids in my eyes speculated that you worked with Ke$ha and Bonnie and “Turn It Up” was for Ke$ha’s re-release of Animal, tentatively titled “Cannibal.”
Fefe Dobson: I’m going to look right now! This is hilarious! I’m like “What?”
Kazemi: Did “Turn It Up” make the cut for the record?
Fefe Dobson: No, I don’t think it did… This is cool!
Kazemi: That Ke$ha ended up singing it?
Fefe Dobson: Uhm… Yeah! I think its dope!
Kazemi: Sorry but I find it weird that I’m notifying you about this. Didn’t your label tell you?
Fefe Dobson: They probably did. It’s just I’m really bad at checking my email!
Kazemi: [Laughs] Moving on! What is the story behind “Ghost”?
Fefe Dobson: The honest concept of that song is the story it’s telling… Basically, “you’ve hurt me enough, you’ve done all this stuff to me and now I finally got the courage to leave you. I’m ghost, I’m gone. You’ve let me in the cold way too much… “ That point is when the guy usually wants back which always happens, when you’re like “I’M OVER DIS!” That’s when the person kind of tries to win you back over and I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed but when you’re in love or find someone you really dig, that’s when all the crazy people you haven’t talked to in like five years come back into your life , trying to interrupt your happiness.. It’s like “where the hell have you been for how many years? Please go away.”
Kazemi: [Laughs] That is so true. It’s like “oh, my life is finally getting on the verge of perfect but hey psycho I’ve pushed out of my life, why are you back?”
Fefe Dobson: Yeah, exactly.
Kazemi: How did Kara’s writing come in on this particular song?
Fefe Dobson: As weird as this is… I actually never got in a room with her! It’s kind of crazy… A lot of people don’t know this but sometimes with songwriting, you kind of have to throw lyrics back and forth online, through text messages… Who knows, maybe on your favorite songs was written on a Blackberry? People are so busy; it’s hard to get in a room together, writing a song as one in a couple hours.
Kazemi: Interesting! Wow! Did Kevin have the tracks beat ready as you were brainstorming ideas while throwing lyrics around?
Fefe Dobson: I met Kevin, he had some of ghost already done. Basically the song was written with a lot of ghosts around. I added some to the bridge and what not, Kara already put her part down for that song, So I added my little Fef extra bit and then it was “Ghost!.” All organic.
Kazemi: There was a lot of ghosts around when you went to demo “Shame as you saw your ex boyfriend right before going into the booth. As an artist when you go into a session with so much feeling, does the product come out better?
Fefe Dobson: You should always put feeling in everything you do, doesn’t matter how big or how small. You’ll get a real product of it. You’ll get something real and honest… Something you can connect to.
LINK LOVE: Alex Kazemi