She Didn't Just Kiss Her
By Noah Michelson
Jen Foster first picked up a guitar when she was 8 years old and it wasn't long before she was winning talent contests at her Catholic all-girl high school. After graduating she moved to Los Angeles with hopes of becoming the next big thing, but found herself relegated to the coffee house circuit (and working a dead end job as a receptionist at a luggage company), so she packed her bags and headed east to Nashville. Determined to "grow into a big fish in that relatively small pond," Foster recorded her first official release, Everybody's Girl, in 2003 and in 2008 she started Fosterchild Records. Her video for the song "Closer To Nowhere," which will be featured on her upcoming album Thirty-Nine, shot to number 1 on LOGO's Top 10 Videos and spent over six months on the chart.
Foster's new single, "I Didn't Just Kiss Her," is a tongue-in-cheek response to Katy Perry's hit single "I Kissed A Girl" and has already scored her new fans and bit of controversy. Out caught up with the singer to discuss the song, her feelings about Katy Perry, and why Sarah McLachlan and lesbian sex go hand in hand.
Out: Do you remember the first time you heard Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl'?
Jen Foster: I remember thinking, Isn't there already a song called 'I Kissed A Girl'? and it was the Jill Sobule song and I thought they were going to play that -- but then they played the Katy Perry song and I thought, Wow. Somebody finally did it -- somebody finally took it even further than the Jill Sobule song.
[Sobule's song] was so sweet and innocent.
I love that one too. Katy's took it to a whole new realm.
We've covered Katy in the magazine several times and we've gotten such vicious feedback -- both pro and con. What's your take on her song and her intentions?
I read that there's a lot of outrage in the gay community toward her and a feeling that she's exploited the gay community, but I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt and find out more before I make judgments on something like that. I've done some reading up on her and she seems to be very supportive of the gay community. I think she's a little bit taken aback by the reaction -- she's like, 'Hey! I love gay people!' I read that both of her parents are ministers and she said, 'They're fine with it and if they're fine with it I don't know why other people aren't fine with it. What's the problem?' So, as a songwriter and an artist myself, I always give people leeway to express whatever they want to express. I think she was just making her own little statement -- if she's not gay, she's not gay. We shouldn't be offended by that.
Within in the gay community I think there's that sentiment of 'Either you're for us or you're against us' -- even the bisexuals are often given a hard time of it for being 'uncommitted' -- but that's so limiting.
There are so many voices amongst us. It's almost like reverse discrimination sometimes within the gay community. We need to be as open-minded toward them as we want them to be toward us.
Personally, as a queer musician, do you feel tokenized or pigeonholed in regards to your sexuality?
I just put it out there and I'm open about who I am and people have to interpret that as they wish. Of course nobody wants to be pigeonholed but is it fair to say I'm an out artist? Yes, I am and I embrace that. But would I say that my music has universal messages that can appeal to everybody? Yeah, I also would say that. So I hope I can reach a point where my music can be embraced by both the gay community and the straight community.
What's the reaction been to 'I Didn't Just Kiss Her'?
It's been surprisingly, overwhelming positive. Honestly, going in I was a little bit nervous because I'm well-known for writing folk ballads -- songs with a little bit darker, deeper depressing stuff in them -- so this was a step out of the usual for me. Of course I was a little bit apprehensive thinking, Oh my God, this could get a crazy bad reaction -- or a crazy good reaction. But I thought, This is a part of me. I'm going to put it out there and see what happens. Have I gotten a couple of emails from people who were offended? Yeah. I actually responded to those emails -- not angrily. I just wanted to explain that this was done with a sense of humor and I'm not trying to get in anyone's face or offend anyone. I just wanted to have fun with the subject.