Fefe Dobson on Legacies, Love, & The 27 Club
Story courtesy of Adam’s World
At the age of 28, while most of her peers are just starting to get their footing in life, Fefe Dobson is already a veteran of her craft. Now in her tenth year in the music industry, and preparing to release her fourth album come the fall of 2014, Dobson is mature beyond her years. Case in point, her new single, “Legacy,” deals with the concept of leaving a legacy, which is something that doesn’t cross the mind of most people her age, let alone already apply to them.
When I caught up with Dobson, who is an old soul at heart, she opened up about how she’s creating her own legacy by surviving going from teen star, to adult musician. She also told amazing stories about being 21 and hanging out with Courtney Love, and the interesting reaction she received from her new neighbors when meeting them for the first time.
Adam Bernard: Even though you’re only 28, you’ve been in the industry for a decade now. What about reaching that milestone is most meaningful to you?
Fefe Dobson: That I’m still doing it, honestly, because it’s a real stressful industry. They have a lot of shows on TV about the glamorousness, and oh you can go out and buy this and do this, but it’s really not that glamorous. Half the people that I look up to that are artists are still just getting by touring, and nobody really knows the struggles in the industry, so I give myself respect and props for just sticking to it and not giving up.
Adam Bernard: Can you remember a time when you felt beaten down by music?
Fefe Dobson: I’ve never really felt beaten down by music because music is the only thing that’s really gotten me through anything. I did music when I was a little girl because it was the only thing that made me smile. I listened to my favorite records because it was the only thing that blocked out the arguments in my home. I put my headphones on at school so I could block out the kids making fun of me. So music, I’ve never been hurt by music, I was only hurt by the people that controlled where I was going with my music. Once you sign papers you don’t have the same control you had just being a kid enjoying your favorite band.
Adam Bernard: What the most frustrated you’ve ever been with someone trying to move your music in one direction while you’ve wanted to do something totally different?
Fefe Dobson: The most frustrating time in my life was probably not really being on the same page as everybody else musically, or visually, or (when it came to) my image, or anything like that. Just going through the teenage growing pains of trying to figure out who I was, and trying to please other people with who I was. Honestly, there’s frustrating days everyday, frustrating days of trying to get my music out there to a bigger mass, and people understanding, and gravitating towards, it, but I have very positive fans, and people who have stuck with me from the beginning, and I appreciate them so deeply. They really help me, and they really create my world.
Adam Bernard: Your new single is “Legacy.” When did the idea of leaving a legacy first enter your mind?
Fefe Dobson: When I was 27 everyone used to make jokes about The 27 Club (a group of artists who died at age 27), so I was like I’m gonna get past The 27 Club. On my 27th birthday my now fiance (rapper Yelawolf) threw me this Amy Winehouse birthday party. My cake was Amy Winehouse’s head, and I had black balloons. It was a joke, but it wasn’t. I look up to artists like Kurt Cobain, musically, and Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin. When I wrote the song I was 28, so I got past The 27 Club, but I think just leave your legacy musically. I’ve worked so hard, I eat, sleep, and breathe music, so if I did anything right I hope I left an indent, somehow, in the industry. If it were to be taken from me tomorrow, if I were not to wake up, if I were to just give it up, would I have left a legacy behind? It also refers to leaving a legacy daily. Did I do something good enough today to leave a mark on someone’s heart?
Adam Bernard: Rewinding a bit, your friends had some morbid jokes, like “Hey, you’re turning 27. You know a whole lot of people in your profession died at 27.”
Fefe Dobson: Yeah, it is morbid, but it’s funny. It’s sarcasm.
Adam Bernard: It seems like many of your favorite artists are significantly older than you, and you recently tweeted that you’re a 60s/70s girl at heart. What do you enjoy most about those eras?
Fefe Dobson: I love the fashion. Every day I somehow gravitate towards that era, and fashion. It’s not like I’m trying to do it, it’s just what I love. Also, with movies, most of the ones I love gravitate towards having that look, or that aesthetic, in some way, shape, or form. And the music, the music for me, you had those long intros, and you could just get into it. People were more free. You could say whatever you wanted, do whatever you wanted. It’s getting free again, and I guess that’s why hip-hop has been such a big genre for so long, because they say what they want. The problem with pop sometimes is we get put in a place where we can’t swear, we can’t tell someone what we really think, because it’s pop.
Adam Bernard: Do you think over the last couple years, with Pink having kind of a sailor’s mouth, and Cee Lo having a huge hit with “Fuck You,” the tide is turning, or are those just unique moments?
Fefe Dobson: I think the tide’s turning. I think it’s coming that way again, for women to be able to say what they want, like Lana Del Rey, and all those people. It’s about being honest, and that’s what I really wanted to do with this album, be honest, and say what I wanted, even if it was a little bit poetic, even if it was a little bit dramatic, even if it was a little insulting. I just gotta say what I want to say.
Adam Bernard: The album is due out in the fall of 2014. What was going on in your life that inspired it?
Fefe Dobson: Oh gosh. The album was really inspired by, it was a year of writing, almost, but it was a lot about love, and lust, and drama, and how to get through the drama. When you’re securing a love relationship sometimes you’re insecure and you don’t know if it’s the right thing, or if the person’s gonna be right for you. There’s a lot that, too, just like “what am I doing?” There’s a lot of loving growing pains.
Adam Bernard: Was there an a-ha moment for you in regards to the love relationship, or was it more gradual?
Fefe Dobson: I always knew he was the one for me, but you have to learn about each other, you have to grow. You both come into a relationship with two different pictures, and you have to morph those pictures so you can become one. We had to work on how to make that life we created without too much drama around it. I learned a lot about who are my friends, and who are not my friends, just by who respected my heart, and my decision.
Adam Bernard: You make it sound like some people had questions about it. What was going on?
Fefe Dobson: I’m at an age right now where your girlfriends are either dating, in a long-term relationship, they’re married, or they don’t have anybody and they’re bitter, and they’re not happy for you, they just want you to be a single woman, and “let’s just go party,” and that can create a lot of drama, just having people who aren’t supportive because they want you to be them.
Adam Bernard: You are 28, but you look very young for your age. Tell me about the last time someone thought you were too young to do what you were doing.
Fefe Dobson: Oh my gosh, I get that all the time. When I bought my house in Toronto the neighbors came up to me one day and were like, “Welcome to the neighborhood, where are your parents?” I was like, “What do you mean?” They were beating around the bush, and I was like, “I’m the parent. I don’t have any kids, but I’m the parent, I’m the woman of the home,” and they were like, “did you win the lottery?” Like oh my gosh, they really think I’m like 12. It’s funny, though. In music it’s never gotten in the way. It’s a blessing.
Adam Bernard: You’ve worked, and toured, with, numerous artists. Which one of them do you pocket dial the most?
Fefe Dobson: I don’t pocket dial anybody. I wish I could pocket dial Courtney Love. That would be fun. I met her once and it was one of those moments that I’ll never forget, because it was an intimate moment. It wasn’t just “meet Courtney, Fefe,” it was a really cool moment for me that I’ll never forget.
Adam Bernard: Can you go into a little more depth, so people don’t think “intimate” means something that it doesn’t?
Fefe Dobson: Intimate meaning it was a one on one conversation. She invited me to her rehearsal space, and I got to go in and watch her perform. She was playing me some of her new material. It was just me in the room and she was playing her guitar. She’s so rock n roll, just didn’t give a shit about nothin, and it was really cool. Then she had to go to court that day, and as she was getting ready for court, and putting on her makeup, I hung out with her in the bathroom. It was just a moment. I was 21, and I just got to watch a grunge rock n roll icon put on her makeup as she got ready for court. It was awesome. Her being so open, and being so cool, was crazy.
Adam Bernard: That sounds like a really awesome moment for you as a fan. Let’s flip that. Tell me about an especially memorable encounter you’ve had with one of your fans.
Fefe Dobson: I like encounters with little babies. They’re funny. I remember a show where these parents brought their little baby, in Canada, last summer, and he was a year, or two, old, so I sang “Stuttering” and held him in my arms for most of the song. It was kind of scary because you don’t want to drop a kid, and you’re singing in their ear.
Adam Bernard: Thank God you didn’t drop the baby, because this would have been a much different story.
Fefe Dobson: It was good. It was a good moment. It was really sweet. Another cool moment was this kid got my face tattooed on his arm. It’s pretty awesome, but it’s like are you sure you want a face of me there for the rest of your life?