Fefe Dobson acts tough in her songs, singing about her deadbeat dad in Unforgiven or giving her steady the kiss-off in Bye Bye Boyfriend. You’d expect the 18-year-old high-school dropout to walk around with attitude—bragging about bar fights or at least sporting some trendy punk accoutrements. But offstage Dobson is all sweetness. Wearing a big furry winter coat that she says reminds her of Penny Lane’s in the movie Almost Famous, she cops to being a “monster on stage” but pretty quiet otherwise.
Originally from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Dobson was signed to Universal/Island/Def Jam Records a year ago by Lyor Cohen, Run DMC’s early manager, who’s also shaped the careers of the Beastie Boys and Bon Jovi. Dobson quit Grade 11, moved to New York City to record
her self-titled debut (which was released last week) and then got her own place in Toronto. “It was hard to move out—my mom and I fought about it,” says the singer, who was raised by her single mother. “She’s very protective. She wouldn’t let us out as kids—I had to talk to my friends through the screen door or over the fence in the backyard.” Now her mom’s going to have to share Fefe with the world—as MTV is already heavily pushing her aggressive pop stylings. But Dobson’s ready to help her family adjust to this new lifestyle. “I’m going to be putting my brother through art college,” she proudly states, before mentioning that right now he’s only 10. “We had no money growing up, just hope and Kraft Dinner. For Christmas, we went to food banks.” This year, no doubt, things will be different. SHANDA DEZIEL
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