Singer, songwriter, all around music maven Jen Foster thought she was simply submitting her song “Venice Beach” to the website of an up-and-coming web series discovered by some of her fans. Little did she know how this seemingly small action would set into motion an explosion of excitement, exposure, blown up servers and an even broader fan base. Of course I’m talking about the highly anticipated web series from Soap star Crystal Chappell, Venice the Series [Launching Friday, December 4th 8pm PST].
I had the pleasure of chatting with Jen recently to discuss her latest album Thirty-Nine as well as the overwhelming success of the updated version of he song “Venice Beach” featured in the promo for Venice the Series. Jen was an absolute delight and has agreed to give away some cool swag so please, fans of Jen Foster, be sure to check the end of this interview for contest details.
EM: Besides writing I’m an artist and whether I’m drawing or painting or on the computer, I typically have my iPod set to shuffle and without fail the music is what makes me more creative. It’s amazing the effect that music can have on me. What does that for you?
Jen Foster: Yeah that’s funny because obviously if I’m trying to write a song listening to music is a distraction. A lot of times I’ll get a song idea just from flipping on something like my iPod and just get a little inspiration. I have so many kinds of music on my iPod. Do you? Do you have a pretty eclectic taste?
EM: Yes, I do. Everything from Jazz to Rock to Country…a little bit of everything.
JF: Yeah me too and but different things inspire me I guess. Basically there’s a song in anything if you just pay attention if you just observe. I’ve always been an observer of people, one of those people who like to sit in airports and watch people and see how they act so there’s always a song idea. I draw a lot from just personal experiences. Obviously love is a big topic to write about so I pull a lot of things from my past love relationships.
EM: So how has online media affected your career?
JF: You know I’ve always known about Twitter, I’ve had a presence on Twitter because I have an online girl that kind of helps me with a lot of that stuff. I post a lot of the personal stuff and she’ll post if there’s an update if I won an award or whatever. Until the Venice thing (Venice the Series theme song), I found out through the Venice producer (Kim Turrisi) that they’re like “Oh we get on Twitter and we interact with fans and it’s awesome” and I was like “Alright I’m gonna try to do that”. I had to ask my girl Christy how that works and she talked me through it on the phone. Then I was on that whole night that the Venice promo was released and it was like WOW this is such an amazing opportunity to meet people and connect and network.
EM: I think you’ve experience with Venice and more specifically Crystal Chappell, has an enormous following that has really exploded over the last year and half. The fans of Venice have a motto, which is “We Break Shit” and I believe you have experienced that first hand if I’m not mistaken. [we both laugh]
JF: I absolutely did! You know I put the song Venice Beach up for sale on Bandbox and they (the fans) pretty much broke it down. It was awesome!! Here’s the thing that happened. The next morning after we put the song up for sale on Bandbox I get a letter. The first thing I see in my inbox is an apology from the CEO of Bandbox and I had not been in touch with them at all. I was unaware that people were having issues. He said he got all these letters from Jen Foster fans that wanted to buy this and he was so sorry and this was unacceptable and he was going to pay me $1.50, which was the price we had set the single, he’s going to pay me $1.50 a single if people write him he’ll send them the song for free and he’ll pay me $1.50 for it. So it’s like wow, how cool is that! They had a server issue. I’m not sure if it was my fans or what or these Venice fans or not but whatever the case may be Bandbox was wanting to make things right and I feel like they went above and beyond to make sure we were happy. I can’t thank them enough. I’m really impressed with the professionalism. And I mean my God girl, in two days since the Venice thing had gone up…two days, two thousand dollars of online sales. It’s insane!
EM: That’s fantastic! So speaking of Venice, how did you become involved with the project?
JF: This one started on Facebook for me because I got a couple of Facebook messages from fans that had heard about the Venice series and thought of my song “Venice Beach” and that I needed to submit it and wrote me very nice letters encouraging me to do that and they referred me to Venice the Series Facebook page. So I went there and we submitted the song and it was not very long, I think it was maybe a week later that I heard back from Kimmy (Kim Turrisi) the producer and the writer for the series. She asked for my number and she gave me a call and she said, “It’s as if you wrote this song for our series” She said, “It’s perfect for it and we want to use it” We started the whole licensing process with Derek my lawyer and their lawyer and it wasn’t a tough thing to do at all. I’m just so appreciative of the exposure and I knew this thing was going to be a huge deal. I wanted to make it work no matter what and so did they. It’s just been an amazing ride ever since! There’s talk of possibly a video of some kind and there’s some ideas behind that. There’s definitely interest in some other songs of mine but that remains to be secured but we’re in talks about another song of mine in particular at this point and it’s just like wow, it’s opening so many doors. All of them seem really down to earth and cool.
EM: So your song “Venice Beach” from Venice the Series is for sale and you also have a CD out right now as well. Would you like to talk about “Thirty-Nine”?
JF: I started the “Thirty-Nine” project in 2007. My mother getting sick really kind of postponed things and I had to go up to Maine to be with her and there were a few scares that happened along the way so we thought the end was near several times before the end actual actually happened so that became my priority. So the record took quit a while to make. I’m very proud of it; we had an amazing band on the record. I had Sheryl Crow’s guitar player Peter Stroud, a couple guys from The Wallflowers were in the band and we had the drummer for the Dixie Chicks and The Wreckers so it was just really killer ensemble that we put together. I was able to do that because my producer, who lives in Nashville, he used to work with Fleetwood Mac and had a lot of experience making records from the engineering perspective in LA and he worked with these guys and became very close to them. He sent them some of my old music and they loved it; we made this record for a pretty low budget with these all-star players, it was pretty neat.
The original version of “Venice Beach” is a piano version. I really wrote the song for piano. I always wanted to do a version of the song that was a little more rocking too, sort of a more guitar based version and I ended up going to LA to do that and I recorded that. When this whole Venice thing came up I sent them both versions. I sent them the piano, which was on my record, and I sent them what I was calling the alternate version, which is the guitar version that they ended up using. Now the alternate version has almost become the main version because it’s getting publicity. It was unreleased prior to Venice deciding to use it. This was something I sorta had in my back pocket. Hey I have this alternate version I’ve pitched it to film and TV, we haven’t gotten any bites but hey I’m gonna send you this and I’m going to send you the piano and they loved the guitar version. So Monday when this whole thing came out with the promo it was like I released the single.
EM: Would you like to talk a little bit about The Writer’s Share project?
JF: Oh yeah! I’d love to! I’m very close with my lawyer. I know that sounds funny but he’s actually a really great guy. Lawyer’s I know get a bad rap in general but I’m actually close friends with Derek. He’s the president of T.J. Martell Foundation, which is for Cancer and AIDS research and they’re really making great strides with T.J. Martell Foundation so it’s really a reputable organization. Derek knows how I feel about Cancer research because my mother died last year from endometrial cancer so going through that process with her I pretty much canceled a bunch of shows and left in the middle of recording a record to be with her and my family as she made that transition. It was a really moving experience so it’s real important to me with my music to give back and this is an opportunity to do that to sort of take the gifts I have with music and the people that I know in the music world and hopefully do something that will raise money and help people. So that’s kind of what the Writer’s Share is all about. It’s bringing together writers…it’s amazing the first event we had we had Richard Marx from the 80’s who most people remember him with a mullet. He doesn’t have the mullet anymore.
EM: He’s actually a very talented songwriter. Most people don’t realize he’s a songwriter.
JF: No they don’t and that’s kind of what I want people to realize that some of the people in the music business that you might not think have all that talent, they really do. Richard writes with Justin Timberlake and Keith Urban. He’s got his hands in a lot of different projects. He’s a behind the scenes guy and writing songs that we aren’t even aware of and then you think of “Right Here Waiting for You” and “Endless Summer Nights” he played all that stuff too so it’s like wow this guy’s had a lot of hits. So he was on my right side and then Mike Reed was on my left side playing piano. Mike Reed wrote one of my favorite all time love songs which is “I Can’t Make You Love Me” with Bonnie Raitt. It’s just a heartbreaking song. Mike played that and I have to say that he sang it with such passion. I’d almost say that he sang it as good as Bonnie Raitt. But he would say, “Don’t say that kid!” because he’s loves Bonnie. We’re just trying to bring a really high caliber of writer and artist to these events and therefore pull in a lot of people and raise a lot of money for T.J. Martell Foundation. That’s kind of the goal.
- Sign up for a Bandbox account using the widget at www.jenfoster.com/onlinestore.aspx using your Twitter Username as your Bandbox ID
- Sign into Twitter (you will have to sign up for Twitter account if you don’t already have one), follow @jenkfoster and post the following Tweet:
“I got a Bandbox account at http://tinyurl.com/JFBandBox for cool new music directly from
Jen Foster ( @jenkfoster ) – Follow along!”
We will choose a winner randomly from all of the tweets posted for two weeks beginning today, December 3rd. The prize package will be the following:
- A signed copy of Jen’s newly released CD Thirty-Nine
- A signed copy of the Alternate Single version of Venice Beach (selected as the theme song for Venice The Series) – CD burned and signed from Jen’s personal collection.
- A Jen Foster T-Shirt
For more information:
Interview by Tiffany N. D’Emidio