Jen Foster is no stranger to the rainbow spotlight. In addition to producing three albums and three EPs, the video for her song "Closer to Nowhere" was number one on LOGO in both 2008 and 2009, and her collaboration with the She4Me project has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.
Windy City Times sat down with her to discuss her upcoming double-album The White Room Sessions.
Windy City Times: What can fans expect out of the new album?
Jen Foster: I was listening to the project this weekend and I got tears in my eyes. I think I got emotional because the last years have brought so much out of me spiritually, emotionally and creatively. There's a lot of depth in the songs, but there's a lot of joy and a lot of hope. I think it's a really dynamic collection of music, both in terms of the musical production and in terms of the lyrical content.
WCT: What has been happening that's been reflective in the lyrics and the content of the upcoming album?
JF: My mother passing away was huge for me. She and I definitely had issues growing up, and that comes out in quite a bit in some of the music on this record. You know, the conflict with my parents definitely does come out on a song called "This Is Me," which I think is one of the better pieces on the record. And at the same time I'm very grateful for so much of what my parents did. They raised me with some really good values ... but there's a certain degree of rebellion that comes out in songs like "I Didn't Just Kiss Her."
WCT: "I Didn't Just Kiss Her" plays like a lesbian answer to Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." Was it meant to be [that way]?
JF: Totally. I was definitely thinking of that song when I wrote "I Didn't Just Kiss Her." … I loved how it pushed the envelope but it made me think and it made me smile and think of the flipside of that coin. So I just sat down one day and was having fun with this little riff I was playing, and that just sort of came out of me. That song was one that pretty much flowed out.
WCT: Recently, Olly Alexander, the out frontman of Years & Years, said he hopes more out musicians will use pronouns reflective of their sexual orientation. Do you share his hope?
JF: There are several of my songs where I definitely own it. But I will say I did struggle with it a little bit early on. I had a lot of people telling me, "Don't pigeonhole yourself." Everyone always sort of thinks about PR and the angle through which you can sell the most records, really. And, honestly, I just never had the energy to overanalyze it that much. My music is such a gut thing, I go with my intuition.
WCT: How's your pledge campaign coming? You've got just more than a month left. Do you think you'll reach your goal?
JF: We are almost halfway to the goal. I definitely notice that when we release exclusive content we get a really nice bump in the pledges. Recently, I put out my video for my version of Journey's "Faithfully," and it just got a tremendous response.
WCT: Can you tell us a little bit about thator is it really a surprise?
JF: This is a pretty cool one, I'm just saying: dinner and a concert at my house. People are, like, "Are you crazy?" But you know, hey I'm going to have a little posse here, my peeps will be over here…
Another VIP package is somebody can, for pledging, hang out with me the day of the show and go to sound check, go to dinner, maybe meet Bud. He's my chihuahua.
WCT: Ten percent of pledges go to Bonaparte's Retreat. Can you tell us a little about what Bonaparte's Retreat is?
JF: Bonaparte's Retreat is an animal rescue that was started by [singer] Emmylou Harris. She's a really passionate animal lover, and she started Bonaparte's Retreat in honour of her dog Bonaparte who travelled with her on the road for many years. They take in adoptable dogs from local shelters that are about to be euthanized, and they take really good care of them and try to find them good homes.
WCT: You're based in Nashville and work extensively in the music industry there, yet a lot of your own material seems to be written and produced in L.A. Why is that?
JF: I started to make these trips to L.A. to write and record … and one of the people I met with was a guy named Rich Jacquesand Rich ended up being my co-producer on The White Room Sessions. And we developed such a cool friendship and such a cool working relationship. … It made me want to do more of it. … I love Nashville and there are a lot of progressive people heredon't get me wrong. But, in general, it is still fairly old-school for my line of thinking.
WCT: How has being an openly gay artist affected your career?
JF: On the positive side, it's gotten me a really nice large gay fan base. In that sensebecause I'm so who I am and out there with itthat has become a centerpiece of my artistry, and because of that a lot of the gay community has found me. So I'm really thankful for that.
Jen Foster is currently crowdsourcing her upcoming double album, The White Room Sessions. Interested persons can pledge and pre-order at PledgeMusic.com/projects/jenfoster.