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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

[Insert 'Call Me Maybe' pun here] An interview with Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen broke through the summer scene when her hit, "Call Me Maybe," practically grew legs and climbed in the ear of every beast known to mankind. After spending nine consecutive weeks atop Billboard's Hot 100 and later being crowned runner-up to Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" for Song of the Year, the cult-following of "Call Me" has made Carly Rae one of the most successful newcomers of her bunch. After claiming the AMA for Best New Artist, an EMA, and two GRAMMY nods at the upcoming ceremony, it's time we anticipate just what Billboard's "Rising Star" can do beyond a couple of hits, no?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you too. That was a great night.

I bet it was. You were at Dick Clark's.

I was! It was freezing cold, but a lot of fun!

This was the first show since his death. What were emotions like in the arena?

It was somewhat of an iconic night to be a part of. I felt like everyone in the arena - and in the city - their hearts were with him. Ryan [Seacrest] was very eloquent and it was amazing for him to be there as well.

Did you have any New Year's resolutions?

Every year I have a resolution that I'm going to get a six-pack. So far, no good. Every year I say 'This is the year, I'm gonna get one,' but at this point it's still un-packed.

Story of my life ... One of the songs you performed at Dick Clark's, "This Kiss," was largely overlooked upon its release. Why do you think that is?

I think that with both "Call Me Maybe" and "Good Time," they were two songs that went so much further than I ever imagined they would go. Which is a great problem to have. So I can't complain. But "This Kiss" is definitely one of my personal favorite tracks from the album.

So "Call Me Maybe" is actually about an ex-boyfriend? Does it not feel a little awkward singing about him all the time?

It doesn't really seem like it's totally about an ex-boyfriend. There was a line that was heavily inspired by that situation in my life, but in general the concept of going and asking a guy for his number was more of an imagined idea. I've never actually done that in real life. And he's actually a great guy, so I have no negative feelings towards him.

But being a songwriter, aren't you very connected to the lyrics?

If it's more of an emotionally-charged song then it's one of those things you really have to delve into to properly convey the message. But "Call Me Maybe" was a fun celebration. It's kinda easy to get sucked up in it one way or another.

So would you say "Call Me Maybe" is more your "Holiday" or your "Like A Virgin?"

Good question! I don't know. It's definitely more of the celebration part of the night for me. I never sing it alone; it's that one moment where everybody is in it together. That's how I close my show.

How would you explain the challenge of transitioning from folk music to pop?

It's a pretty natural kind of evolution. In a way I've been attracted to pop music my entire life. When I was nine, I started listening to alternative stuff like Sinead O' Connor's "Nothing Compares To U" and the Bangles. Pop was always what I loved, but it wasn't what I would do. When I'd go to the city, I'd write folk songs. One day, my writing partner and I decided to stop fighting pop and to just go with my feeling.

Where do you see the current state of pop music?
I have a full-fledged love affair with the pop world right now. I feel like there are no rules, and I love that. They've broken songwriting structure down so that you can get creative again and do whatever you want. It's no longer like 'verse-bridge-chorus.' You can get unnatural with it, and people like the Lumineers are bringing that alternative edge. The options are endless and there's no better time to be a pop artist than now.

Can you explain your fascinations with other people's love stories?
I love romance. I always have. I'm a sucker for a good romance story. But I think it's further than that. I usually have an ear for it and an interest. There's something I find really fascinating about the similarities. I feel like everyone has a heartbreak story and every person has a love story. It's this universal thing that we share. And that's why love songs are so big. In my own writing, it naturally leans toward the subject of love.

So you must be a chick-flick kinda girl?
I'm all for a good comedy when it comes to movies, actually. I like to not think too hard and laugh a bit. But I do love the classics. Pride and Prejudice is like the best love story ever.

Does the age gripe get old? Do you feel compelled to keep things PG for your audience?
I never really make conscious choices of how I'm going to be or the things I do. I have a comfort zone.

So there's the possibility of you pulling a Christina and getting "Drrrty?"
I would never say never. At this point I'm a little more down-to-earth and casual. It's not like 'Hey, here's all the skin on my body.'

You come from Canada, where some of the biggest women in music hail from. There's Celine, Alanis, Shania, and the list goes on.
I feel really proud of the Canadians that have come into the world of music. It's definitely an honor to be among those women.

Is there a strong Canadian-to-Canadian support system among the artists?
I'd say so. Having someone like Justin [who heard the song on Canadian radio and made it go viral] take me under his wing and make me a part of his "Believe" tour was unbelievable. If there's one thing I can take from this experience it's that at some point I too would like to help another artist get to the top. There's a lot of talent out there and its hard to breakthrough. What's been a trouble of mine for a year is learning to take what I have going on in Canada and knock on the doors of these other countries. Having Justin give me that leg up was critical.

When it's all said and done, what do you want to leave the world of music with?
What do I want to leave the world of music with? I think for me it comes down to songwriting. It's been such a whirlwind of change the past year and one of the things that I've been able to ground myself with and hold on to is the fact that songwriting never gets tampered with. It's a precious way to find immediate joy. And I can do it on the bus, I can do it on a plane, I can do it wherever I am. I'm in the room with people like Dallas Austin and Max Martin and they're so humbling. I'm a contender. I want to keep going and going to prove myself as much as possible.

So before we end, I just wanna know... 'why you gotta make it hurt so good?
[Laughs uncontrollably] That's so sweet!

... talk about a failed pick-up line.

Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber, and Cody Simpson play Phillips Arena on Wed., Jan. 23 at 7:00 pm.

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