An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Jill Sobule
Barb WYEP's Sunday Mix Host (WYEP): Hello Jill! Thanks for taking the time to respond to some questions via email for the WYEP Music Blog!
WYEP: I have to get the obvious question out of the way first. Were you surprised by the attention “I Kissed A Girl” received back in 1995?
Jill Sobule (JS): Well of course. When the song was written, I thought it would just be one of the later album cuts -a kind of palate cleanser from the more depressing songs that came earlier. I had no idea it would be a single or the song I was most known for.
WYEP: Where did you get the idea to ask your fans to donate money to record your seventh studio album? Did you start the trend? Amy Correia is now in the process of asking her fans for donations to record her next album, do you have any advice for her?
JS: I had the idea almost 3 years ago. I was definitely not the first to ask for fan support. There was a band from the UK called Marillon who have since 1996 have gone to their fans. Jane Siberry has, I think, had a similar relationship with hers. But, I think I might have been the first that put up a website that had different donation levels for various "gifts and services". I know there had been some generic sites, but none with the individual personality of the artist. Mine was pretty funny: jillsnextrecord.com. Amy and I had lunch the other day. I think she is just done recording. My advice was have fun, but get ready for a ton of work -stuff that a record company is supposed to do -unless of course she decides to go with a label. I think Amy is great.
WYEP: In 2008, in 53 days, you were able to raise the $75,000 you needed to record Jill’s Next Record/”California Years”. I noticed on your Tote Board that a majority of the donations were $100 or less and in the Pewter and Polished Rock level. Does this prove that every donation really did count, no matter the amount?
JS: Oh yes! That's the bread and butter. Those are the ones I am most grateful to. Although the woman from the UK that gave me the most has a special place in my heart. Actually, we are good friends now
WYEP: You also broke down your Tote Board by State and Country. I’m proud to say that Pennsylvania was well represented. So how do you explain the lack of donations from Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming? You also had support from outside the USA, especially from fans in the United Kingdom. Were you surprised that you received money from such faraway places like Greenland and Singapore?
JS: Yes, I have no idea where the girl from Greenland heard me. But these days, it's not like you have to wait for imports to come in; you just go online and listen to your favorite stations from around the world. It's always exciting when you hear from someone who lives many time zones away.
WYEP: In concert, what kind of reaction are you receiving from fans when you play a song from “California Years”? Does it feel extra special or different for you and them, knowing that the fans played a financial role in making this album happen?
JS: It's been great. It was fun having fans sing along to the songs -the donors heard the record way before it was released.
WYEP: As a fellow Capricorn, I have to say you seem to personify many of the strong qualities under this sign: responsible, patient, ambitious, resourceful and loyal. You certainly showed your Capricorn independence by recording and releasing “California Years”. Do you believe that being a Capricorn has had any influence on the decisions you’ve made on the many paths your career has taken over the years?
JS: Well, I am an iffy Capricorn. Yes, I am all those traits you mentioned, however, I am uncharacteristically unorganized. and sometimes undisciplined . If I can get those two in order, I would be the uber Capricorn bad ass.
WYEP: You had the opportunity to work and tour with the late Warren Zevon. What was that like?
JS: Warren became a good friend and a mentor. We had the best time on the road together. I think about him every day.
WYEP: They say you write about what you know, yet you’ve delved into so many different topics, including fiction, how do you keep coming up with fresh new ideas?
JS: Well, there is always an interesting story out there (or within). You (meaning me) just have take notice and remember to write it down. Also, it's good to get your nose out of "the internets" and go explore. Again. I am lecturing myself on that one.
WYEP: So what can we expect to hear at your show in Pittsburgh on August 15th?
JS: Songs to make you laugh, songs to make you cry. Just kidding. I never use a set list, so I never really know what the tone of the show will be. A lot depends on the feel of the crowd. But, I promise it will be worth it.
WYEP: Jill, thanks for your time!
JS: Thank you. Oh, tell folks to go to my website -jillsobule.com. I have tons of free stuff and great t-shirts. That's right! Thank you Barb.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host