Fefe Dobson is getting real about her music career — two decades later.
The Canadian pop-punk singer, 38, recently spoke to Calgary-native TV host Jessi Cruickshank on her "Phone a Friend" podcast. In an episode titled "Just Give Me Some Smirnoff" released on Thursday, Dobson opened up about the highs and lows of being a young artist.
One significant situation that occurred when she was a teenager starting in the industry was that people began calling her "Brandy Spears," in reference to R&B singer Brandy and pop icon Britney Spears.
"That did go around, which to me, just sounds like I have Black skin and I have a 'white' voice — that's basically what it sounded like to me," Dobson, who's half Jamaican Canadian, said. "I don't even know what that means. When I was younger, it didn't really affect me the same way because I was a little aloof. I was thinking, 'Why would people think that? It's stupid.'
"As an adult, I look back and I'm like, 'Wow, I can't believe people actually said those things.'"
Dobson is currently gearing up to release her latest album, "Emotion Sickness," on Sept. 29, along with her "Shut Up and Kiss Me" tour this fall across Canada. But the Scarborough, Ont.-born star roughly came on the music scene alongside fellow Canadian pop-punk legend Avril Lavigne.
In 2003, Dobson's "Take Me Away" — from her eponymous debut album — was her first internationally-released single; a year prior, Lavigne's debut album, "Let Go," spurred mega-hits like "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi." Then Dobson's huge hits, "Stuttering" and "Ghost," were both released in 2010, with Lavigne coming out with "What the H—" and "Wish You Were Here" a year later.
While comparisons between two young Canadian women in music were bound to happen, along with some choosing to pit the artists against one another, Dobson shared this wasn't at all frustrating.
"She was super cool and we were very different," Dobson said about Lavigne. "I was like, 'People are always going to compare.' Women get it constantly, and I don't know why we can't just be looked at as being individual.
"I think it's something that makes things easier to digest, which I kind of get."
Dobson was only 18 years old when "Take Me Away" was released, a fiery track she revealed was about Justin Timberlake, who brought her as an opening act on his "Justified" tour in 2004.
While Cruickshank compared her electric performance energy to that of Beyoncé, Dobson confessed she has no clue where she channelled that stage presence.
"I think as the camera rolled, it was like survival," Dobson said. "Like this was my chance to get out of my childhood home, to finally have a dream come true.
"When that camera rolls, it's time to show people what you've got. This could be your only chance, you don't know."
Despite having her second album, "Sunday Love," ready to release, Dobson was terminated by Island Records in 2005.
"It was too hardcore," Dobson said about her follow-up album. "Nobody knew what to do with me."
While the album was finally released in 2012, to which Dobson said she had "no control" at that point, it was initially shelved by her label.
"I'm kind of like, 'OK, now I have no label, I'm back in Toronto, I'm losing my mind drinking wine everyday because I'm just so messed up, not knowing how to restart," she shared. "I didn't know what was the next move."
In the meantime, Miley Cyrus put out "Start All Over," which Dobson co-wrote and was thinking of putting on her own album, until she decided to cut it. Then, Selena Gomez covered "As A Blonde" for her band's album, "Kiss & Tell," which remained on Dobson's follow-up album. Jordin Sparks has also covered Dobson's "Don't Let It Go To Your Head."
During that time, Dobson said she could see both the positives and negatives of other singers performing her music. On one hand, it "started a fire" within her, letting her know she didn't have bad writing or poor ideas.
"The con was, when I think about it now, I think, sometimes, 'Why did I get told it wasn't good or wasn't right or it was too hard or it was too this, but then it wasn't for others?'" Dobson said.
"Fate is fate and life is life, but I really love the renditions. I'm proud to see awesome females sing the songs."