In The Beginning
I never imagined how tough living out my dreams would turn out to be - dealing with all the ups, the downs, lefts, and rights. While most teens my age were falling in love with the dreamiest boy in school, I was falling in love with music and musicians. I would study them - their faces, their moves and especially their voices. They made me feel so good, and I knew I had to, one day, be a part of that world.
I was not born into a “perfect” family with the perfect financial situation by far. Due to my mother’s lack of parenting, our family was completely torn apart - handed to the system: Sheldon, fifteen, and Cullen, thirteen, were taken away from her a few years back. Currently one is living with my older sister, Tanya, and the other in a group home. We had to make the best with what we were given, it reeked of unfairness, but for me it was just enough to get by and fight for better. I don't believe in settling.
I was offered a big recording contract with Jive Records, but decided to pass due to musical differences. It was a tough decision and I was grateful, but their vision for me was different than who I was as an artist. I felt it was important to stay true to myself, and have faith that another offer would come along.
After passing on the Jive deal, Jay Levine and James McCollum helped me find direction. They sent me off to play at small cafes and bars - preparing me for the events to come. Fortunately, my musical family kept growing while I waited for another deal to come along. Jay and James introduced me to their manager, Chris Smith, whom I had to play an acoustic set of four songs to get him fully hooked. He did not say much to me when he left the lounge, but in my gut I knew I had just won myself a manager. From that point on all the other missing pieces fell into place. Meeting with various record companies were scheduled, and I was busy doing showcases for record executives. At the end, I found a home at Island Records and was beyond happy.
My first record
My debut album was definitely a first look into my sort of topsy-turvy world.
I wrote about things that sometimes even made me feel awkward, but I was not afraid to go there and open up about real topics and my unorthodox relationships. I wrote a lot about love and feeling love.
It was quite the experience making that first album: I was new to the industry; a fresh face and things felt awesome. I moved to New York, which was a big deal for me seeing as before then I was not even allowed to go to the movies by myself. I started recording Fefe Dobson as soon as I got there.
It took a few months to perfect but finally the record was complete.
To promote Fefe Dobson, I toured for about 2 years playing multiple cities multiple times. I got to meet so many different artists that I had the pleasure to befriend and share a stage with artists I remember staring at with admiration on the TV such as Justin Timberlake, Cindy Lauper, Joan Jett, Lenny Kravitz, amongst others, but, as time ticked on, reality kicked in. The promotion of Fefe Dobson was cut short due to a restructure within the record label: a new Island/Def Jam regime was formed and it was like starting all over again; I had to gain their confidence. My time on the road was over, and I was back to square one preparing for record number two.
Working on Sunday Love
I recorded and recorded... I recorded my brains out. I gave every bit of energy I had to give, and when the energy began to falter, I prayed for a deeper connection. I lost my Canadian boyfriend and my American affair. I deserved it, as I was not being true to either one. At the same time I began to completely lose perspective for my music. Things were falling apart. I started experimenting - watching florescent lights go off in my eyes. This was my way to escape. However, it was not my only way. During this very dark period in my life I decided that the crème de la crème of escapes was to alter myself completely. I found a way to reflect the new, gloomier me by changing the tone of my voice, my image, everything about me. That makeover backfired in my face; to the media and the public I came across as trying too hard. Sunday Love was looked at as a failure. It did not take the new executives at Island and me very long to separate. The album was shelved and when a label shelves an artist, they do not just shelve recorded discs with pretty artwork, they shelve dreams.
My life went on pause, and when it was on play, it was actually in slow motion. I flew back to Toronto - back to my home and back to the drawing board. I knew I was not going to give up, but I was afraid that in the process of not giving up, I might lose my mind. I had to make another record, but I did not know where to begin or how I was going to do it. I had no label but did have a manager that believed in me no matter what, and that was more than enough for me. In a calm yet desperate attempt, I called up some pals I knew and began cutting demos.
The New Me
Lucky enough, I also began maturing. I found myself writing happier songs with happier meanings; my voice felt lighter. I was letting go of all the resentment against my former record label, my former lovers, and my family. Before I knew it, it was happening right in front of my eyes. Maybe it started when my best friend begged me to smile, or when I met a new boy, or maybe it was when I finally woke up on the right side of the bed. Whatever it was, it worked. I could have sat around and moped about all the horrible things that were happening to me, but instead I just grabbed my guitar and started strumming.
I read books, watched films, and listened to artists that both enthused and inspired me: The Alchemist, Many Lives Many Masters, The Secret, and John Lennon. I wanted to fill my soul with something other than anger and past baggage. What is the best way of ridding yourself of heavy baggage? Toss out the things that do not fit anymorePack light, live lightI have tried to teach my brothers the things I have learned over the years. I have warned them about karma, and explained the beauty of forgiveness and compassion. The main reason why I push this on them is because we have had to, somehow, forgive our own mother. I do my best in giving them advice and being the older sister and friend they need, and deserve. I am told that I inspire them, and that shines a light on my heart. Knowing that my words and love provide inspiration and hope gives me a sense of faith and has helped me become a better person. I have come to realize that a major positive change occurred when I opened my arms to my once absent father. It took me time to get to that point, but when I did it was totally worth it. Growing up, I honestly could never have imagined having him in my life. I even wrote a song to him called “Unforgiven”, which expressed the hurt I went through as a young girl because he wasn’t in my life. My mother told me so many bad things about him -- all of which ended up being far from the truth. When we finally got together, he proved to be a very sweet and hard-working man.
I also realized I was completely uneducated about all of my ethnic slices as I didn’t know my father growing up, but with time and understanding, the missing ingredients began forming a whole pie: an English, French, Native Canadian, and Jamaican pie. I even found out I am closely related to the famous Jamaican Olympic runner, Donald Quarrie. How cool is that?
I’ve Found Joy
JOY is my third LP. It is the first album I can honestly say hit the spot. I finally felt I had all the ideal elements into place. With true love, happiness, forgiveness, and of course, joy, dancing around in my back pocket, I courageously went back to Los Angeles to record. It was wild. Things took on a different color for me. I had the freedom to create, and I felt confident doing it. This was by far the best experience making a record I've had – ever. It was all hippie vibes and Wii-, a truly far out combination.
21 Music (Chris Smith’s indie label) gave me the opportunity to experiment without any pressure. Chris trusted in our eight lengthy years of working together, and allowed me to make the music I wanted to make. There were no questions like “who is Fefe?” He knows who I am and is encouraged by what he has heard and seen.
There are more than ten songs on this album where I offer expressions of me like “Watch Me Move,” a party song at the surface but if you dig deeper you may find that it’s a song about confidence and rejuvenation. What’s really exciting about “Watch Me Move” is that VH1 recognized the potential of the song early and before the album was completed made it the theme song for the Margaret Cho Show. I love the guitars in this song. They make me think of sun bathing on the top of a 1966 GTO. “I Want You,” is about attraction and desire. As a special treat we are releasing both “Watch Me Move” and “I Want You” together along with a video that will showcase both songs and a new title, “I Want You 2 Watch Me Move.” “Set Me Free” is about finding liberation and freedom. “Joy,” is about the excitement you get from finding new love. “In Your Touch”, talks about the fear of falling for an ex-boyfriend all over again -- if given the chance. To me, “Shame” represents my self absolution: So sick of being ashamed/So sick of playing games/So sick of all the lies I keep inside/Yea they'll eat you alive/Till nothing else remains/Except shame.
I would sort of be lying if I said that I am forever saved of all my heartache and “Paranoia,” and I would also be lying if I said I was not appreciative of those intangible feelings. They are slightly beautiful as long as they are managed beautifully... oddly enough, I think I realized how to do just that. I had to feel the bad in order to feel the good and I had to learn from my mistakes in order to grow. Growing comes with rewards and I was given the best one. I made an album with my friends. Dave Lichens, Jon Levine, Dean Dichoso, Gadget, the Heavy Steadies, Chris Smith and the 21 team. They all helped me actualize my Joy, and I did it with a permanent smile on my face.
I Want You (Remix)
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