Singer Carly Rae Jepsen started off independent after coming third on Canadian Idol but her little song “Call Me Maybe” exploded selling over 18 million singles.
Before you can say one hit wonder “Good Time” her duet with Owl City was certified double platinum.
Her latest album E·MO·TION was on many critics Best of 2015 lists and there is a full remix album of it scheduled to be released soon. With cuts like “Run Away With Me” and “I Really Like You” we really, really, really like her.
Musicals have quickly become a trademark for her with the success on Broadway of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Grease: Live on Fox.
Jepsen heads to Chicago on the #GimmeLoveTour and she called us, definitely to talk about it.
Jerry Nunn: Hi, Carly. I last saw your perform live at WorldPride in Toronto, Canada.
Caryl Rae Jepsen: That was a beat back but I remember that time. It was a fun day.
JN: I read you have performed in musicals for a long time. How was the Grease experience?
CRJ: It was intense to say the least. I was joking with friends and family beforehand that I would be living at home for a full two months and sleeping in the same bed for a change. I might even go on hikes, make muffins, be social, and just go to Grease rehearsals on occasion. When I arrived I had time for none of that. I was eating, breathing, and sleeping Grease the whole time.
Luckily, it was a great group of people and an incredible production to be around. Immersing myself in it ended up being very joyful. It was an experience I will never forget.
There wasn’t much time for anything else, so when it was done I told my boyfriend that we need to escape in the woods somewhere. We had a little mountain sanctuary.
I am getting my head back on my shoulders and gearing up for this tour.
JN: You did a nice job of acting on the show.
CRJ: Thank you. I didn’t know how I felt about live TV because it was way out of my comfort zone. It was a really stressful decision but it was a fun challenge. It was definitely terrifying at the same time. I will choose carefully and take my time with whatever I do next because I do know it takes a lot out of you. I was a nervous little wreck leading up to Grease happening. As fun as it was, it was a lot!
JN: Did your role as Frenchie make you want to try new hairstyles?
CRJ: I cut my hair off. It has been a long time coming. I have been wanting to have more of a pixie haircut. Once Grease was done I felt like I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. When the wigs were off we didn’t have to pin my hair to anything. I had a very talented hairdresser in LA come over to my place. I told her to chop is all off and she did!
I am really loving it actually, it is rocky, messy, and feels quite perfect for getting on the road and touring.
JN: Talk about your influences on the album E·MO·TION.
CRJ: This album has been my passion project. I was really excited about putting out an album based on
all the things I love about pop music. I really loved exploring what that was, which led me quickly to the ’80s. I really loved pop melodies but was more curious about indie production. We made some decisions where it wasn’t purely just a pop song but something with some substance to it.
I probably made over 150 songs and I picked the twelve that you hear.
I worked with some incredible people that I learned a great deal from. I have a very strong voice and opinion myself with songwriting but I found it very beneficial to get to go to Sweden and New York to work with people that go at songs a different way than I do and be challenged by them. I think that adds to any project. Two heads are better than one.
JN: How was working with Sia?
CRJ: I am huge fan of Sia. I used to bartend at a place where she used to come in and sing on occasion. It was The Media Club in Vancouver. I remember asking to work late once so I could see her perform. She had put stuffed animals all over the stage. I thought it was really quirky and interesting.
I was very intimidated of writing with her because I was such a fan for so long. There is a song called “Boy Problems” that I had started on the road with my guitarist after going through a painful break up with my boyfriend at the time.
On the first day that I met Sia I realized she was really warm. She was very gracious and did not have an ego like I thought someone in her position would have. I felt safe to show her the idea I had and she embraced it in a big way. She did her genius Sia thing where we had been struggling for a bridge for months. I had almost given up on the song but when I gave the song to her she came up with a bridge for it right away. I wanted to kick her and kiss her at the same time! [laughs] I don’t know how she does it? She is so brilliant.
“Making the Most of the Night” was mostly her baby. I was involved with it but not in the same way she was. I very rarely take outside cuts but that was one that I couldn’t ignore the genius of. I was so happy to have her guidance on that one.
JN: “Boy Problems” better be on you setlist in Chicago because that is my favorite.
CRJ: Yes, we have been cooking up something very special with Petra Collins. We will definitely be celebrating that song when we come there.
Petra Collins is a photographer and videographer who I have been following her career for a while. She is Canadian as well but New York based. She reached out to me telling me that “Boy Problems” was her favorite like yours and we have been working on a project in NewYork to make something visually cool to go along with it.
JN: Your remake of the original theme song for Netflix’s Fuller House trailer is out now. How did you feel about that?
CRJ: My childhood self was dying. It was really fun to do, Butch Walker is incredible, so working with him was a dream come true. To do a song remake for a show I grew up watching was a very surreal experience as well.
JN: You just performed at a Fleetwood Mac tribute?
CRJ: Yeah, I got to sing “Hold Me.” That was my childhood soundtrack because my parents loved that band. I think “Landslide” is me and my dad’s favorite.
It was really cool to sing “Hold Me”. I wasn’t sure at first because it is kind of a duet and didn’t know if I could pull it off. They had backup singers for me so it worked.
It was a whirlwind experience because I had to catch a red eye that night to shoot a music video the following day in New York. They let me go second in the set so I could pull both things off. I felt very lucky.
JN: How did feel to be rewarded by your album being on many critics Top Ten lists last year?
CRJ: Incredibly surprising and wonderful. I was trying very hard in the making of this album not to do it for any other reason than to share the other colors of what I like to do.
I try not to read any reviews but my mother kept sending really positive things my way. I would be lying to say it didn’t mean a lot to me especially to be acknowledged by the writing community. That is my passion and quite an honor.
JN: Are you writing new music after this tour?
CRJ: That is the game plan. I have been working on it but we are in talks on when to release it. I have created a monster because I really enjoyed the break between albums last time. I had no deadline and just delivered the album when I felt like it. They are asking me when this time and I just say, “I will get it to you when it’s done. How does that sound?”
Give some love to Jepsen on March 12 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St. For more information visit www.carlyraemusic.com/tour and metrochicago.com.