Jen Foster is a singer-songwriter whose song about a lesbian relationship was a finalist for the John Lennon Songwriting Award. She talks to us about that song, and her first album, which was released last month.
AfterEllen.com: Your music has been described in a variety of ways because it doesn’t appear to fit easily into existing categories; how would you describe it?
Jen Foster: I identify myself as a rock artist, because rock music is my main source of inspiration. But the rock I love is both classic and mainstream, and I strive for hooky melodies and heartfelt lyrics in my songs. I like to take what is personal and craft it into something that feels universal. So while my music has pop qualities, I like to think it has more of the passion associated with rock.
AE: What inspired you to write “She,” about a relationship between two women?
JF: I wrote it after going to a U2 concert in Buffalo, NY. U2 has always inspired me to be true to myself, and the concert was just what I needed to get that song out of me. Beyond that, the song was about a relationship I was in at the time.
AE: Were you surprised that “She” became a finalist for the John Lennon songwriting award?
JF: Yes, I was, although I shouldn’t have been. I think I underestimated society’s readiness to hear that song. I think it was embraced because the song does not have an agenda, it is not militant. It’s a love song.
AE: How do your fans respond to “She” compared to the other songs you perform?
JF: It depends on the crowd I’m playing to. It gets different reactions. Gay women always love that song, though.
AE: You have mentioned that “She” is partly about “a love that transcends labels;” can you expand on that? Were you at all concerned that the song would label you?
JF: Being real is where it’s at. If you can’t be real as an artist, I see no point in doing this. What is your contribution then? People will see me however they wish. I write about the things that genuinely inspire me, and a relationship between two women was simply one of those things.
AE: Any plans to write more songs about romantic relationships between women?
JF: My plan is to always write from my heart. So if my heart leads me in that direction, then I will write more songs about relationships between women.
AE: Your first album, Everybody’s Girl, was just released in October; how does it feel to have it out there for all to hear?
JF: Everybody’s Girl was a labor of love, a journey of self-discovery for me. So it feels great to finally have it out there, to share it with others. I love the introspection that’s required in writing songs, but when that’s done, I can’t help but throw it out there in the hope it may be therapeutic for someone else, too.
AE: Have you started working on a second album, and how do you envision that one to be different from the first?
JF: Yes, I have started writing for my second album, and I’m so excited about working the arrangements out with my producer and my band. The next album will most likely be deeper and darker than this one. I see it being more stripped-down and sounding more like a band. I do, after all, have a band now and these guys are like brothers to me. That makes for a very different album than when you hire out studio players as we did on Everybody’s Girl. The new songs have strong, hooky melodies, but very personal, intimate lyrics. Call it dark pop.
AE: What has been the most surprising result of releasing your first album?
JF: Well, that nobody has come right out and asked “Are you gay?” By the way, my answer to that is that love transcends labels. And I really believe that.
Learn more about Jen at JenFoster.com