When I first met Jessie Malakouti, she was a young singer excited by the success of debut single “Push It” and anxious for the release of EP Show Me Your Tan Lines. A week later, the fresh-faced blonde was introduced to the world as the opening act for the summer’s most anticipated concert tour!
Now Jessie and The Toy Boys are on the road, opening for Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj on the Femme Fatale Tour. For the singer and her mannequins – yes, her back-up act is a group of mannequins, which she says keeps her bandmates from talking back! – it brings the kind of exposure she could never have dreamed of just four months ago, when our paths first crossed at a San Francisco gay club.
In this interview, Jessie talks about what it’s like on tour with Britney and Nicki and touches on a 2009 incident where Perez Hilton accused Britney of ripping off Jess’ song “Trash Me.” In addition, Malakouti gives insight into her upcoming, full-length album and why her gay fans are so important.
The last time we talked was before you went on tour with Britney.
Did I know then about the tour?
I don’t think so?
No, if I didn’t mention it, then I probably didn’t know.
Literally days after we talked, it came out.
Then I probably didn’t know yet
What was your response when you found out you’d be opening for Britney?
I started crying! (Laughs.) I started crying tears of joy. It was like, I got the call… Maybe I knew, but I couldn’t say anything yet? I got the call a week before it came out, but I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I got the call, and I started crying, and then I went back into the recording studio with make-up smeared all over my face. Everyone was like, “Why are you crying?” I was like, “I can’t tell you.” It was like, “OK, why’s she crying? Weird!” Then it came out, and everyone was like, “Oh, I totally understand why you were crying now!” It was total tears of joy. I look up to Britney, so it was amazing.
What’s it been like on the road with Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj?
It’s been awesome! It’s been like a giant sorority, a traveling sorority. It’s been so fun, and everyone is so sweet. Nicki is amazing. It’s like a really happy vibe, and everyone she has around her is so nice too. It’s been awesome! And the food is really yummy too! We have, like, Southern cooking and catering and sweet tea.
You may not be able to talk about this, but in the past, you’ve had an issue…
No, never with Britney! With songwriters, yeah, but never with Britney.
The contention was that Britney’s “If You Seek Amy” was based musically on your song “Trash Me.” Has that ever come up with Britney?
No! The thing is, I’ve always loved Britney. I’ve never said I anything about Britney, because I’ve always loved her so much. It was…
(At this point, an excited female fan barges into the dressing room, asking for a photo with Jessie.)
I’ll be out in a minute to take photos, I promise.
So, you were saying?
I have always loved Britney. It was an issue between some songwriters and myself, not her. It had nothing to do with her, it was between songwriters, but we’ve resolved it, and it’s fine. It doesn’t even come up.
How do you think touring with Britney is impacting your career?
It’s the biggest thing to happen to me. The thing about Jessie & The Toy Boys that’s been so amazing is when I get Tweets from people saying, “I’d never heard of you before tonight, and I love you!” The level of exposure I’m getting out of this, you can’t find a better situation. It’s definitely my audience. It’s a great way to make new fannequins. I’m just stoked to be part of it.
I’d think it’s also breathed new life into the single “Push It.” The song was already been a Top 10 hit at clubs, but now it’s being reintroduced to tons of new people.
It’s almost a whole new field of people are discovering it for the first time. Obviously, you’ve heard it before, and I’ve been playing it for months now. For a while, it was like, “Oh, I’m starting to get sick of this song.” Now I don’t feel that way, because it’s a rejuvenation into the whole thing. For some people, the first time they’re hearing it is on this tour. I get Tweets every night that are like, “I love ‘Push It’! Where can I get ‘Push It’?” It’s definitely helping me create new awareness of the single. Again, I couldn’t find a better situation to do that.
While you’re touring, I know you’re still planning to release a full-length album.
It’s going to be in October! I got an official word.
You told me two months ago, you’ve written hundreds of songs for this. Have you narrowed it down?
I’ve narrowed it down. I even have the title of the album! I’m calling it This Is How Rumors Start. It’s very – you know I just put out an EP called Show Me Your Tan Lines, which is very summery and light and fun. The album is a little dark. It’s a little dark and fucked up! I went through a major heartbreak, and there’s a lot of that on the album. It’s really funny, but it’s like darker lyrics with really happy melodies. It’s an interesting combination.
Tell me about the kind of support you get from the gay community?
The gay community is my biggest supporters. That’s why it was so important for me to come and do this. Everybody else is taking a day off from this tour, because we’re all so exhausted, but flew here specifically for Pride. This is really important to me. The gay community has always supported me, from day one. The first magazine I was ever in was Attitude, which is a gay magazine. My gay fans mean the world to me! They’ve always been the biggest supporters, so they just mean so much to me.
For More Information, Visit: http://www.JessieAndTheToyBoys.com
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Photo credit: MarquesDaniels.com