Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Almost Famous

Jemina Pearl has hit the road.

The former lead singer of poppy, punky, hipster darling Be Your Own Pet went from messing around with high school bands in Nashville to seeing her band become a breakout star at South by Southwest music festival, sign with Thurston Moore’s record label and tour the world. Be Your Own Pet put out two records before breaking up in August 2008. Since then Pearl has been hanging out in Brooklyn and working on solo material. Last October saw the release of her first solo album, “Break It Up,” which featured guest appearances by Iggy Pop and Dave Sitek. Jemina Pearl will hit Chicago on Feb. 6 at Beat Kitchen.

The Weekly talked to Pearl on her tour bus, somewhere north of San Francisco and south of Sacramento, about the shift to solo work, the sudden success and abrupt breakup of her first band, and the trials of nascent rock stardom at the ripe old age of 22.

  • We all went to an arts magnet high school in Nashville. Me and Jamin (Orrall) and Jonas (Stein) had known each other awhile, and I was always bugging them to let me be in their bands. Then we just sort of played shows around Nashville, and Jamin’s dad thought we should take it further, we should get a manager, and then this really just all blew up in our faces.
  • I don’t know. We went to SXSW in 2005 and everyone was like, “You’re the big breakout band,” and I was like, “What is this, this beast that got created?” We were kind of in the eye of the storm, with everything swirling around us. I always thought it was kind of ridiculous at the time. It was kind of like we were this little rabbit in the middle of the desert.
  • I didn’t break out, the band broke up! I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I was the last to know.
  • It’s definitely strange to go to a gig and see your name be the headliner on the marquee. People will walk up to me and be like “So what’s your band called again?” And I’m like, “Uh … it’s just my name.”
  • We were like 15, 16 when we started. When I was younger, I was like, “That’s not punk,” and as your tastes change, you get less closed-minded as you get older. To stay and do the same thing over and over again, my brain would get very bored.
  • I watched my father struggle for years in the music industry. Both my parents are artists, they’re both kind of self-employed, but they did what they love, and that kind of encouraged me not to settle.
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Almost Famous