Jen Fosterby Pamela Detlor
"Closer To Nowhere" may be the title of Jen Foster's upcoming video but it certainly doesn't describe Jen! She is a musically dynamic, kind, funny, REAL, Cool Rockin' Gal; and, she's right here - talkin' to LoveGirls. She's also addressing the rampant rumors of an alter ego. Hmm – two sexy Rock Girls for the price of one; it doesn't get any better than this!
LoveGirls: How old were when you knew you wanted music to be more than a hobby?
Jen: I was 15 years old when I first picked up my brother's guitar to try to write a song. I loved pop and rock music at that time, and spent hours in my bedroom mimicking my favorite singers. I used a jump rope to sing into, and I pretended my tennis racket was a guitar. Then one day, I thought that I would try to write. I knew at that young age that I was born to sing and write music. I didn't realize how much work it would be, but I stuck with it, and I am still doing it and making a living now, thankfully!
LoveGirls: What was your family's reaction to your future plans for a life in music?
Jen: I come from a fairly conservative background. There was a lot of emphasis on keeping appearances and I think my rock and roll side was a little disturbing to my parents initially. Mom enjoyed the music of Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, and Pat Boone, and later, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, and Josh Groban. She didn't understand my love of Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, and U2.
My parents always encouraged a back-up option, although they never completely discouraged me from pursuing my music. I think that now, they respect how hard I've worked and how I stuck with my dream.
LoveGirls: Sadly, your mom, Mary Alice Foster, recently lost her brave battle with cancer. You have decided to get right back into recording and hitting the road to tour. Do you feel that this is what she wants you to do?
Jen: Absolutely. My mother and I had some great talks at the end of her journey. She told me that she knew how hard I had worked and that she wanted to see all my dreams come true. I think she and I both had regrets over not being closer throughout her life, though in the end, all that needed to be said is that we love and respect each other - and we forgive.
I asked her right before she died if she would help me from the other side ... if she would send me her positive energy. And the day she died, 2 of my songs moved into the finals of the ISC - out of nearly 20,000 entries! And other amazing things have been happening. My nephew and I just made a video together, and that experience brought our family closer, too. I know she is rooting for me up there.
LoveGirls: Music is a great healer for many. Is immersing yourself in your music helping you move through this difficult time?
Jen: Definitely. My music is my medicine. It is an extension - an expression - of who I am. It's my therapy. I am not the kind of person who can bottle up who I am and hold it back - I have to be writing about life and singing to others about my experiences. I have written a new song (not recorded yet) about the experience with Mom I played it recently at the Bluebird and there was such a strong emotional reaction from the audience. It really made me feel connected, and it really helped me work through the pain.
LoveGirls: In 2004 you were called the "artist to watch for" by The Boston Globe, OUT Magazine, and SHE Magazine, just to name a few. Did these endorsements have a large impact on your career?
Jen: Every bit of good publicity helps - and you never know how far - reaching it is. It all leads to other opportunities. All the songwriting awards have helped a lot, as well. Working with people that have worked with Sheryl Crow has helped :). It seems ridiculous, but it is just the way it is. You can be amazing at what you do, but no one takes notice until you have that external validation - great reviews, awards, big-name people endorsing you. To answer your question, yes, I have seen lots more people pay attention to my music when they hear who else loves me.
LoveGirls - Your same - sex love song "She," (from Everybody's Girl) was a finalist in the John Lennon songwriting contest. It was a First Prize recipient in the Great American Songwriting contest. Did this recognition boost your confidence as a writer?
Jen: Big time. I needed that validation at that time. I had a lot of insecurity - I have always battled insecurity - and I needed to hear that I had talent from people who were not my friends
LoveGirls: Your songs are honest and true to life without being preachy. When writing lyrics do you consciously choose not to be preachy or do the words just flow?
Jen: They are naturally not preachy, because I don't want them to be that way. I want to include people in my music, not isolate them or turn them off. The thing I love about this life is how we are all different - it makes life so much more interesting - and I let that shine through when I write.
LoveGirls: You've written eloquently about love, loss, fear, and life in your second album "The Underdogs". What inspires you to write a song?
Jen: I draw inspiration from everything around me. I watch people, I watch the world, and I definitely watch TV, too :). My songs are my observations put into story-form. I am drawn a lot to themes about being an outsider, and I have a lot of compassion for people who are outsiders.
LoveGirls: You've been compared musically to the likes of Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, which definitely creates expectations for the listening public. Are these comparisons flattering or intimidating?
Jen: At this point in my life, I feel very comfortable with who I am. I have my own style, and I have many influences you might never guess from listening to me. Yes, I am flattered by comparisons to great artists. But I don't take that too seriously. It's human nature to put things into categories, and if Sheryl and Bonnie are my category, I can live with that.
LoveGirls: How important is performing live and having a one on one connection with your fan base to you?
Jen: It's been everything to me. It's why I write songs: To connect, to have some little impact on someone in Scranton or Greenville or Ithaca.
LoveGirls: You are putting the finishing touches on your video for, "Closer To Nowhere," the first singe from your upcoming third album. How was the experience of shooting the video?
Shooting the video was exhilarating. It was a brand new experience - something I have never done before, and so there was a big adrenalin rush throughout the days we filmed. And yet, I am very comfortable in front of a camera, and always have been, so there was also a feeling that I was home. It was the most fun I've had in recent memory, to see my concept for the video become a reality. And working with everyone as a team was also a blast.
LoveGirls: Do you have a title for the new album? If so – what has inspired this title?
Jen: I have a few possibilities swirling around in my head, but don't want to commit to a definite title just yet. I have to hold something back for our next interview!
LoveGirls: When can fans expect the new CD/video to be released?
Jen: Soon. There will be a 4-song EP coming out very soon that will precede the release of the full record in the summer. The video is being edited right now, and my hope is that it will be available within a month or so. I also have another side project I am working on for my alter-ego - Little Jenny. Little Jenny will soon have her own MySpace page, and I will post demos of 3 of my most-requested songs - "Home Depot", "Square Peg", and "Taken". This project will be called "The Homo Demos", and these are my quirkier songs that specifically speak to the gay community.
LoveGirls: Melissa Etheridge was known for years as a gay icon. She has surpassed that label and is considered a rock icon – as it should be. Do you get questioned a lot about your sexuality? What is your opinion of labels in the music industry?
Jen: Yes, I do get questions about that, and that's fine for now. The gay community is my people :). They have been good to me and if someone wants to ask me about that, it's ok. I do hate it when I read something and it starts off with "Lesbian Rocker Jen Foster..." though. There's something to be said for having a little mystery, and not just throwing it all out there. Something feels cheap about that. But at the same time, the gay press has helped me so much in terms of spreading the word about my music. It's something I always am reevaluating as to how to handle... because in the larger sense, my music is for everyone. I am about including people, and labels have a way of excluding or isolating people.
LoveGirls: It is difficult to put you in a category musically. You have songs that could be considered pop, folk, and some have a classic rock edge. Where do you see yourself, and do you like being somewhat of a musical enigma?
Jen: I just write what I feel and what comes naturally. I admit that I have a wide variety of influences and I think that makes my sound unique. It seems most female artists mostly have female influences, whereas I have more male influences by far. So in trying to emulate males more when I was younger, I think I stumbled upon a pretty different vibe. I'm not vamping on the Indigo Girls or Melissa, like you might think. I'm drawing more from U2, the Stones, Coldplay, and honestly, a lot of cheesy-ass seventies rock that I have a soft spot for. "Afternoon Delight" had a pretty catchy melody (not to mention harmonies!). I love how that music takes me back to what feels like a more innocent time.
LoveGirls: You have had great success as an indie artist. In this electronic age where artists can easily market themselves, how important do you think it is to have major label backing?
Jen: Artists have needed labels for the money and the machine in the past. Most artists don't have the money it takes to make a dent in this business, not to mention the knowledge or desire to put together a business plan - and a team - to build a truly successful career. But all that is changing - and I think the major labels are shaking in their boots. It's awesome. I love the creative process of marketing my music. I have never waited around for someone else to do that for me. I just jump in there and learn all I can - and also ask for help from my fans and friends. You have to do that if you want to get your music out there these days. Clive Davis isn't going to bars to hear live music and find new artists, believe me. I am a firm believer in this: forget taking your music to the record labels. Take your music straight to the fans. If your music is good, the fans will embrace you and help you and then...after a few years of hard work, the record labels will be all over you and you will have the choice to stay independent or sign.
LoveGirls: Do you have any future plans to tour the UK?
Jen: Of course, I WANT to! And I am looking into possibilities :)...someone, make me an offer!
There you have it, UK – Jen is ready to cross the pond and rock the house! Until this can be arranged GO check out samples of Jen's music @ http://www.myspace.com/jenfoster & http://youtube.com/user/JenFosteOfficial you will NOT be disappointed!
Her first two CD's are available for download at: itunes, Musicghost.com, amazon.com, Rhapsody, and CDBaby. The new jams will be available for download very soon – stay tuned!