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Jill Sobule
"Kissed a Girl" First

Jill Sobule
"Kissed a Girl" First


More than a decade before Katy Perry "Kissed a Girl," Jill Sobule made waves with her song of the same name. Now she's back with a new studio album paid for by her fans.

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Jill Sobule was the original proclaimer of sapphic love with her hit "I Kissed a Girl" in 1995 -- and, of course, when Katy Perry made it an anthem for lip-locking ladies last year, the media created a pseudo rivalry.

For her latest CD, Sobule created a website, , and fans donated money to finance what became The California Years . Sobule was so grateful for the help, she thanked some of her fans with prizes -- one woman who donated $5,000 even got to sing on "Mexican Pharmacy," a tune on the album, a romantic, silly, pointed, earnest collection of pop tunes.

Here Sobule talks to about being bicoastal, the highlight of her life, and how Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" affected her life. you've made the transition to the West Coast. How are you liking California?Jill Sobule: I'm a hobo. And I just, you know, like to say I'm bicoastal just because I mooch off my friends and stay with them in New York. I love that I have both. I was going to say it's horrible, I need New York to bring out the stimulation and write and I need to chill out in L.A., but I have to say the last record really was stimulated by the landscape and the people in California. Thus, The California Years . I was joking with my friend, saying the next record is gonna be Back to Brooklyn .

Your fans donated $75,000 to help you produce your CD. You must have some pretty great fans! Yeah, you know, they are. And I appreciate them and I connect with them and I make sure that they're appreciated and that there's communication because now I feel like, without a reliable middleman -- as in a music label -- you've got to really rely on the people who want to hear your stuff. And hopefully, it grows, your fan base, but it's that base core. I love how the Republicans talk about how you gotta appeal to your "base core." I'm obsessed with the new faces of the Republican Party, like Glenn Beck and Miss California. But that's a whole other story! I think I've got really smart, nerdy fans, that they have a wide variety of lifestyles.

You rewarded them based on the increments donated. When someone donated $1,000 you would write them a theme song. What were those like? They were 30 seconds, but I went overboard and gave people two different choices. One was kind of 007 spy-ish, and the other was kind of Mary Tyler Moore . [ Laughs ] For instance, do you know the guy who hosts Dancing With the Stars ?

Tom Bergeron? Yeah. He's an all-time fan and he donated and I wrote him a song... "You're really famous, but you're not a dick." [ Laughs ] Those were the first lyrics of his theme song.

How was it working with Don Was on the new album? What I love about him the most is, you know, people can get jaded, and he still seems like he's that junior high school kid that's just so excited about music. And I hope I'm that way forever. It's easy when it's your business, it's easy to get burnt and jaded and not want to listen to stuff.

Did last summer's Katy Perry hit "I Kissed a Girl" up your profile any since you wrote the original "I Kissed a Girl"? Yeah, people mentioned it. What I loved were the "I Kissed a Girl" wars, like "Kissed a Girl" classic versus the [Katy Perry song]. But the one thing that was great was having some young girl accidentally iTune mine instead of hers. [ Laughs ] You know, people kinda push me, like what do I think, and I always hate to bash another artist, and the song was really cute. I remember someone sent me an interview [with Perry] where she said she dreamed up the title. And no, she wrote that with a professional team, The Matrix, who are older, and she was signed by the same guy that signed me when I did "Kissed a Girl." So that was a little disingenuous.But I have no bad feelings. And I'll say, I still think it's great to have a song, if I was a little girl, and I heard Katy Perry's "Kissed a Girl" and I had those kind of feelings, which I did, I would still feel like, that's great, that's wonderful. But I will say that maybe mine was a little more, just a touch more queer than Girls Gone Wild. Maybe.

You have an unbelievable pop sensibility, yet you also have interesting arrangements and a depth lacking in a lot of pop music. How do you feel about some of the poorly trained monkeys that are passed off as pop stars and then revered as icons? Well, you gotta stop yourself from being, "They're no Chrissie Hynde or Patti Smith." You gotta keep it to yourself, but with the way recording is now, it's almost like back to the '50s when you had your singers who were just like the star-maker machinery, rather than artists themselves. And also with auto-tunes, someone doesn't really have to know how to sing. But you have other pop tarts who are like frigging amazing singers. So it's a mixed bag. There are some that will probably have legs, and some that will be disposable, but they've made enough money you don't feel bad about 'em. And also you want to see how people grow too. It's funny how I was watching some show and they said, "This generation's Beatles," and they introduced the Jonas Brothers. [ Laughs ] But you know, they're young and you'll see how they grow. Who knows? There are people like Justin Timberlake who was in a boy band, but he became an artist. I've never watched American Idol , but Kelly Clarkson's got a fucking great voice.

Lilith Fair is coming back. Would you be game to joining up? Sure, I was the first time. It was fun. It was when my album was out and Jewel's album was out. And you could tell that we were on the same label. They worked her [CD] more than mine and they put her on the main stage. And my first two shows, they would put me on the 4 o'clock stage and the tickets said 4:30, so I'd be starting and people would be putting up chairs. [ Laughs ] But it ended up being great.

How big a thrill was it to induct Neil Diamond into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame? Oh, my God. [ Sings in Neil Diamond rasp ] "Love on the rocks, ain't no big surpriseaEUR|" But the best part about it was, I got to go onstage with all the people who were the inductees. And so I was onstage singing "Kansas City" -- Leiber and Stoller were also there -- but I was onstage with Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, James Brown, Bobby Womack, and Carole King. And then I was standing up next to James Taylor and he looks at me and he goes, "Can you believe who we're up here with?" [ Laughs ]

How thrilling to be onstage with all of them. Oh, my God, it's the highlight of my life. But it was definitely a Sesame Street thing: One of these things doesn't belong!

How fabulous was it working on Nickelodeon's Unfabulous ? Oh, man. That was such a fun gig to do. I want to do it again. It was just so great, and Sue Rose, the woman who wrote it, was genius, and [star] Emma [Roberts] was great. It was my first and only day job I ever had. It was the first regular paycheck. But it was like a paycheck where every day I would just goof off and I'd look at the script and then I'd look at the film and I got to put whatever music I could put into it. And no one hardly ever changed anything!

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Jill Sobule
"Kissed a Girl" First

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