Meet Britney Spears' Other Opening Act
You wouldn't think Jessie and the Toy Boys would need any advice. After all, the emerging pop singer and her band have already worked with top producers (including No Doubt's Tony Kanal) on the act's new EP, Show Me Your Tan Lines, have performed their hit single "Push It" on Conan O'Brien and are already getting seasoned at trekking across the country on tour. But now that they are on their biggest tour yet, joining Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj on the hailed Femme Fatale tour throughout most of the summer, of course they had to ask something. And to think it all comes down to socks. Say what? Read on as Jessie dishes on the most anticipated tour of the year. For info and dates, visit britneyspears.com.
US: How did Jessie and the Toy Boys form?
J: I formed Jessie and the Toy Boys over a year ago. I grew up playing in bands my whole life and I loved the idea of being in a band or having a group. Every time I started a band or a group we broke up because I am a creative control freak. I write all of my music and I am very involved with my art direction and visual side of things so I basically needed a band with people who wouldn't talk back. I decided to start Jessie and the Toy Boys because mannequins are plastic and fantastic and they know when to shut up.
US: What is the Jessie and the Toy Boys' sound?
J: My sound is an interesting combination of all the musical influences that I had in my life. When I first broke into the music industry, I was in a punk rock band called Shut up Stella. After that, I moved to Europe for two years and I was involved with writing pop music and I was into the South London underground dub step scene, so that implanted into my brain as well. When I started writing the Jessie and the Toy Boys' record it was a fusion of the two, the punk rock roots with really pretty pop melodies.
US: Where did you get the idea to use mannequins as band members?
J: My friends and I go to magazine stands and we buy every magazine that looks cool. I started cutting out letters and I looked on the Internet for pictures of things that were inspiring. I saw this old photo of Blondie and I loved the way she looked. She just looked badass and her music was incredible. I had already written my music and I loved where I was going sonically with it. I wanted to be in a band again so that is when I started cutting everything out and once I put it on paper I looked at it and realized that I didn't really need real boys behind me and that is what sparked the idea for the mannequins.
US: How did you react to the news that you were going to open for Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj?
J: I never really cry, but I was bawling tears of joy. It is a dream that has come full circle. It is an incredible opportunity. For my generation Britney Spears was an icon. I remember doing my fifth grade talent show to Britney. Even playing at the Staples Center is insane because I saw the Justified/Stripped tour at Staples when I was fourteen or fifteen and I had nosebleed seats. I remember looking out and closing my eyes and zoning out in my own world, wishing that one day I would play at that venue on that stage and so it is insane that I am making that happen years later.
US: Have you had the opportunity to hang out with Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj?
J: I have met Britney and she is incredible, beautiful, and very sweet and everyone around her is really sweet, too. Nicki and I have talked a little bit more and I have seen her out and about. She is an awesome badass chick and I love her.
US: Have either of them given you any advice?
J: I asked Nicki what to bring on tour and she was like, 'Girl, you need to bring a lot of socks.' She is right because on the bus it is freezing and I didn't realize that.
US: What are you looking forward to on this tour?
J: Just being able to meet my fans and also make new fans. It has been incredible just to meet my "mannequins" in person, which is what they named themselves. They are so brilliant.
US: How have you prepared for the tour?
J: I have been working my ass off for two weeks. I have been trying to build my stamina up so sometimes I would hike Runyon Canyon and sing at the same time. It takes a lot to sing live and dance at the same time.
US: It was reported that Britney Spears' single "If U Seek Amy" was similar to your song "Trash Me." Is there any rivalry there?
J: That was so long ago so that it's water under the bridge. It had nothing to do with Britney. I have always been a Britney fan. That was a situation between myself and some songwriters who I knew personally and I thought were my friends. We have since resolved it and I don’t even think about that anymore. I am just happy to be a part of the tour and honored to be on the same stage as Britney.
US: Can you tell us about your latest album, Show Me Your Tan Lines?
J: It is something that I wanted to make for people to listen to in the summer when they are driving with the top down, at a pool party, or at a bar. I wanted it to be a fun, summertime feeling record.
US: On the album you collaborated with Yelawolf. How was your experience working with him?
J: Yelawolf is a genius. I think he is one of the best male rappers to come around. It was awesome to have him on the track. One day I met up with him, we drove to the studio, I played him 'Push It' and he came up with the verse in twenty minutes. It was ridiculously fast. It was one of the moments where you know it works. He recorded it and we were listening to it going 'wow, this is hot!'
US: Besides the tour are you working on anything else?
J: After the Femme Fatale tour I am going on an Identity Festival tour. It has got a bunch of dope DJs and people that I am fans of: Skrillex, Rusko, Steve Aoki. It is going to be wicked. I am planning on releasing a full album in October called, This is How Rumors Start.