Fresh off the release of her latest album, pop rocker Felicia ‘Fefe’ Dobson, 24, is back and better than ever. After releasing her debut album in 2003, the Scarborough, Ontario native hit a roadblock and, seven years later unveiled her second album, Joy, which spawned the hits Ghost and Stuttering, which have both spent time on the music charts. On Monday, the Mirror caught up by phone with Dobson in Saskatoon at the start of her 16-day tour that crosses Canada and makes a pit stop in Las Vegas. Dobson brings her already sold out show to the Tidemark Theatre April 15.
Mirror: It’s been said that on your new album, Joy, you are embracing your roots. What does that mean?
Fefe Dobson: Basically the whole concept of that comment is that I got to make a record independently without anyone telling me what to do and I was allowed to express myself freely and stick to my guns. I was allowed to be me and create.
M: You now have three singles in rotation on Canadian radio. Why do you think people have embraced this album?
FD: It’s been awhile since I released new material and I’m fortunate to have a lot of great, loyal fans who have been patient enough to wait for new music. I’m just enjoying myself and having fun and I think that comes through in my music.
M: Why was your 2006, second album Sunday Love, never released?
FD: It was never released because my label (Island Def Jam) and I split up because of musical differences and me having to find myself musically. We were not seeing eye to eye musically but then I was re-signed by the label, Island Def Jam, a few years ago. They were my label in 2003, we split in 2005/2006 and then I re-signed with them a short while ago.
M: What was it like collaborating with legends such as Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett on Sunday Love?
FD: A lot of the people I collaborated with were amazing experiences from Joan to Cyndi to Matthew Wilder to Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, so many artists. Working with them just strengthened my skills. The album wasn’t in vain, it had a purpose for sure.
M: What kind of things did you have to go through before getting back to the studio to record Joy?
FD: The first initial thing was re-building myself, to re-build my strength. When you part ways with the label that you worked hard with and got recognition from – just being signed by a label is a big thing, I was signed when I was just 17 – it was hard. Like any break-up it’s hard to get settled afterwards and I had to get my mind together and get inspired. I had friends that I called up, who are very creative, and I brought them together to sit down at the table to get back to creating music. Also seeing Miley Cyrus cover my song Start All Over and Jordin Sparks covering Don’t Let It Go to Your Head made me excited and inspired and made me think ‘you are noticed for having talent and don’t give up on yourself.’”
M: Where did your inspiration for the tracks on Joy, come from?
FD: It’s a lot about liberations and love, lots about love. M: Is Stuttering based on a real-life experience? FD: Oh for sure. My biggest fear in a relationship is someone lying and cheating. You never know for sure in a relationship if someone is telling the truth. My mom always told me as a kid to just tell the truth and things will be easier. It might be hard, but it makes everything better. So I’ve always told the truth, even if it’s painful.
M: Did you have any musical idols growing up?
FD: Growing up, I lived in a musically diverse home. My mom religiously played Bob Marley, Martin Gaye and ABBA. My big sister listened to Guns ‘N Roses and Nirvana and I just soaked all of that up and all those artists have influenced me in day-to-day life. I listened to the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash while I was making my album.
M: What do you think makes you unique and sets you apart from other artists?
FD: You know, I’m a different person. I have a different way of speaking and a different way or writing. I’m Felicia Dobson, I’m not anyone else.