There was buzz around Canadian pop-rocker Fefe Dobson when she debuted her self-titled first album in 2003: The effort premiered at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers Chart, sold about 300,000 copies domestically, and spawned one minorly successful single, “Take Me Away.” But then Dobson virtually disappeared, and it came to pass that her sophomore album—Sunday Love, which was to hit in 2006—would not be released by her label, Island Records. Until recently, Dobson had stepped away from the studio—or at least singing in the studio—and could mostly be found writing songs for other artists, everyone from Miley Cyrus (“Start All Over”) to Selena Gomez (“Round & Round”). But now, after more than seven years, Dobson has got a couple of new singles—“Ghost” and “Stuttering,” which she recently performed on The CW’s teen cheerleading drama Hellcats—and is finally ready to release another studio album. The disc, Joy, hits retailers today, in fact. To celebrate her return, EW got Dobson on the phone to talk about her scrapped album and the last few years; her new album; who she’s been writing for; and who’d she love to collaborate with in the future. Rock—or rather, read—on.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about your new album, Joy. It’s been a while since you released anything. How are you feeling about getting back out there?
FEFE DOBSON: So excited. I’ve been waiting for this release for forever. I tried to get it to a point where we’re all happy, and I’m happy, and I think we’re ready. I’m ready. I’m so stoked, I can’t explain it to you. I’m smiling right now.
When somebody says, “Give me the pitch for what Joy is,” how do you answer that?
Joy to me is a reflection of the life experiences that I’ve had throughout the first record and kind of having some time and a hiatus. It’s just like all of those experiences that I had during that period—that growing up period. I made my first record when I was 17, and I’m in my early 20s now, so I kind of had some time to figure stuff out.
You grow and change a lot during that period.
Exactly! You grow and evolve and as you do that, your art hopefully reflects that change and that growth. Musically, it’s still rock and roll, but there’s elements of pop because I love pop music. I love rock music, I love country music—I love all music, let’s be honest! But it reflects that and my interests. It’s a really raw record.
Raw in the sense that you feel like you put yourself out there? What does that mean?
Yeah, definitely because I put myself out there and just kind of expressed what’s going on and what’s been up. And it’s raw because, musically and sonically, there’s two sides of the album. There’s the indie side and the pop side, and the indie side is musically very raw, and sonically, and the pop record is more raw lyrically.
Wait, so the pop side is more raw lyrically and…
Basically, what’s happening is that I made this album for like three years. It’s a concept record, and half the record is indie rock and half the record is pop because that’s who I am as an artist. So we kind of wanted to make it more literal, and in a way poke fun, but also just say, “Here it is,” and put it on the table.