Interview: Jessie Malakouti of Jessie and The Toy Boys
by Emmett Lindner
Recently I had the chance to speak with Jessie Malakouti, singer and mastermind behind the pop group Jessie and the Toy Boys. The ‘Push It’ singer started her career performing with her bands in dive bars across the Sunset Strip in California, eventually moving abroad in order to get in touch with her true musical intuitions. She became involved in the U.K. underground scene, where she refined her skills as a performer and prepared herself to re-enter the American circuit.
Jessie is truly a jack-of-all-trades – she has and continues to make her mark on the music world as a talented singer/songwriter, and has begun to set her sights on acting/directing/producing/writing in the film industry. She is extremely personable, funny and easy to relate to, and it was my honest pleasure to have the chance to talk with her. We chatted about her beginnings, her recent experience on the Britney Spears ‘Femme Fatale Tour,’ and her plans for the future of her and the Toy Boys. Check out her album coming out this Fall, titled ‘This Is How Rumors Start.’
Emmett: Thank you for doing this interview, it’s a great pleasure to have you on the website.
Jessie: It’s my pleasure to talk with you!
Emmett: I understand you’re on your way to the studio after this interview, can you share at all with us what you’re working on at the moment?
Jessie: I am working on a Latin house beat – a really Spanish influenced house track, and I’m writing a song too; going in with [producer/songwriter] Jimmy Harry from “Push It”.
Emmett: Do you ever think about life after the spotlight? Is that something you look forward to, or are you content with a lasting life in show biz?
Jessie: I want to be in entertainment forever. I really feel like I keep saying I’m living this American dream right now, but not too long ago I was just a girl with a dream. I love that I wake up every day and love doing what I do.
Emmett: From the looks of it your band mates aren’t really the talking types. Does it ever get lonely or are you happy to have mannequins as your partners on the stage?
Jessie: Ha, that’s a funny question…No! The Toy Boys are an ever-rotating collection of perfection. I have plastic dancers, and last week I did an acoustic show with one of them in New York. Having the Toy Boys is way more exciting, and it’s fun hanging out with all of them all day.
Emmett: Do you think that you will explore different sounds or do you feel that you’ve developed a formula that works for you?
Jessie: I like to play with all different genres. I have a punk rock background from when I moved to the U.K., where I also got really involved in underground dance and all these genres that were popping off. What I’m really into is a punk rock aesthetic with electronic dance grooves. That’s where I’m at right now. There are a lot of DJ’s I want to work with: Cascade or Pretty Lights, for example. Right now I feel I’ve definitely carved out a niche for myself.
Emmett: Anything you miss about your days playing gigs along the Strip with [early band] Shut Up Stella?
Jessie: No – I feel nostalgic sometimes, though. I live near the Strip now so I walk along that area a lot. It’s really cool for me to look out and see the [bar] Whiskey and remembering getting booed off stage. I just like playing shows. I just like to make music.
Emmett: Biggest inspiration?
Jessie: I’m a major fan of Madonna – she’s the ultimate pop star. I would love to have a career like hers. Britney [Spears] was a huge inspiration to me throughout my career – I remember imitating her when I was younger and I think she’s a kick ass performer. I really love ‘80s music – Missing Person, she’s the coolest bitch ever. ‘90s alternative rock is a big inspiration for me, and one of my favorite genres.
I also love Outkast – I’m a big hip-hop fan. When it comes down to it, I really just like good music.
Emmett: You were recently on tour with Britney Spears and others for her ‘Femme Fatale’ tour. How was this experience?
Jessie: It was awesome. I’m a massive Britney and Nicki [Minaj] fan. I don’t think it gets any bigger than them. It was a real honor to be playing with such great talents. Then to be able to go from performing for everybody to sneaking off into the crowd was a great experience.
Emmett: Any stories you’re willing to share from it?
Jessie: In Chicago we had a really good time, we went extreme bowling – it was the most ridiculous bowling group ever. There was one point when I was fooling around and I just chucked the bowling ball down the lane – and it was a strike! That was pretty cool, and besides that we just kind of had fun on our off days
Emmett: What’s next for Jessie and the Toy Boys?
Jessie: We’re putting an album out soon – I’m definitely focusing on finishing the record and getting that out this Fall. It’s called ‘This Is How Rumors Start.’ It’s actually pretty satisfying now that it’s getting close to the finished product because we’ll all be in the studio trying to figure out what songs to put on the LP, and everyone has such a hard time choosing! Everyone has, like, twenty favorites.
Emmett: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Jessie: I hope to be making films, taking it on from all aspects – starring in them, writing, directing, producing. I want to look back and see that I’ve made a really big impact on pop culture.