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Colbie Caillat breaks out the 'Bubbly'

It started in our toes, made us crinkle our nose.

The next thing we knew, Colbie Caillat's single Bubbly had more nearly 3 million MySpace plays, the singer-songwriter had signed with Universal Republic Records, and her debut album, 2007's Coco, had spent more than six months in the Billboard Top 20.

Caillat (rhymes with "ballet") wrote Bubbly, about a crush on no one in particular, on a rainy night in her bedroom after refusing her friends' invitation to go out on the town. Yeah, she's that girl. The one who'd rather strum an acoustic guitar in her parents' Malibu home than hit the L.A. party scene, who wears a flower in her hair, who could pass for Jennifer Aniston's kid sister.

Caillat, 23, set her sites on a music career at age 11 after falling in love with Lauryn Hill's voice and performing Killing Me Softly at a talent show. Her father, Ken, who'd co-produced Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Tusk albums, advised his daughter to learn an instrument to help separate her from the pack of would-be singers in Southern California. So at 19, she began guitar lessons. At 20, Caillat — then a tanning salon employee — let a friend upload a few of her songs to MySpace. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Caillat called tbt* from a tour stop in Oklahoma City.

When your friend put your songs on MySpace, what was your goal?

I didn't have a goal. My friend posted the songs for me. Everyone wanted my music to be heard, and I very lazy about it, but also very shy, so I wasn't going to push it on people. My friends (uploaded the songs) for me and I really didn't know what to expect.

Your dad advised you to play an instrument in addition to singing. Was there something you learned along that way in your career that made you think, "I wonder why Dad didn't warn me about this?"

No, honestly I have had so much good advice. ... Other advice was that he gave me an analogy: "You're about to enter this on ramp of a freeway, and it's going to be moving really fast and there's not really a chance to get off it." Now that it's been a year and a half, I see what he's talking about.

What advice would you offer other musicians?

I would just tell them to practice every day. If you're a musician or a singer, take lessons. Take vocal lessons, guitar, piano lessons. Make sure you practice every day, and master your craft because it's a really tough schedule once you're actually in it, and you need to be able to keep up and be your best because there is so much competition.

How many times a day do you hear that you look like Jennifer Aniston?

Oh, a lot. (laughs)

Did you ever turn on Friends and go, "Wow, she could be my sister"?

I never thought we looked alike, but whenever I'd go get my hair done they'd say that I have hair like Jennifer Aniston. I realized, "Well, yeah," because we have the same color hair. We kind of have the same color eyes. But it wasn't until people said that we actually look alike that — only in certain pictures I can see it. People don't really say that in person

Have you met her?

I have, and she's the sweetest thing. I saw her with no makeup, and she looks gorgeous.

Does she think you look alike?

We didn't talk about that. (laughs)

Tell me how you got your name.

I had no name for the first couple days after I was born. My dad looked at his receipt; he had a motorcycle from Honda, and the dealership was called Kolbe, K-O-L-B-E. He asked my mom, "What do you think of Kolbe?" She said, "Yeah!" ... That's the Japanese spelling, and then they changed it.

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Colbie Caillat

With Jon McLaughlin. 8 p.m. Saturday at Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa, (813) 274-8982; tampatheatre.org. $25.

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Colbie Caillat breaks out the 'Bubbly' 12/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 11, 2008 2:59pm]

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