Carly Rae Jepsen talks about swords, and life after the massive ‘Call Me Maybe’
It started off on Tumblr, as many matters pertaining to Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen do. One of her fans thought it would be nice if she had a sword, and started a viral campaign to get her one. A few months and many memes later, she was handed one onstage at Lollapalooza ‘18 (there have actually been several — Jensen’s fans are fiercely devoted, and seem to love swords for some reason).
When Jepsen won the Song of the Decade lottery with “Call Me Maybe” in 2012, the fame that came with it, oppressive at first, settled into something breathable and nice over the course of the next few albums: “Emotion” (2015), and the new “Dedicated,” a pristine, ‘80s-dwelling pop album.
In an phone interview, Jepsen, 33, discussed her post-”Call Me Maybe” life. The following is an edited version of that conversation:
Q: You had almost 200 songs written for the album. How did you choose?
A: It was a really hard. I was home for a brief stint in Canada and I went into my dad’s music room, and there were poster boards of all the many songs I had written for my first ever EP, that probably no one ever listened to. It was nice. I was like, I guess I’ve always been an overwriter. … I usually have lots of friends and bandmates and family members involved in helping me narrow it down, by throwing these kind of chaotic listening parties at my house. That’s a really helpful tool for seeing what people are reacting to. They get invested and have debates about it. It’s kind of fun to sit back and watch.
Q: Is it true that you never have writer’s block?
A: Yeah. I feel like I’m going to need to knock on wood if I keep saying that. It’s not that I don’t write a bad song — if you needed me to write you a song today, I’m sure I could come up with something. I guess I’m fairly able to write if I need to write, yeah. I’m kind of even writing when I don’t mean to be. When someone says something in a certain way, I’ll find some poetry to it, kind of ignoring the conversation and writing it down quickly. My friends call me out for doing it a lot.
Q: What kind of expectations did you have when you released that first folk-pop album? Are you like, “Here we go. I’m going to be famous now”?
A: One thing I’ve never had is a big expectation for what my career was going to look like. I just knew that I was going to keep hustling and trying to have one. Even in my PowerPoint presentation to my parents when I decided that I was going to make a run for this thing, I was like, “One’s happiness equals (less) regrets. Even if I was jazz lounge singing and waitressing six nights a week, I will be so happy giving this my all.” And they were like, “All right, go for it, kid.”
Q: When you’re at home in L.A., can you move through the world pretty easily, without showing up in the Daily Mail the next day?
A: I do get recognized on occasion, but it’s not on the Justin Bieber level, where you can’t leave your house or go do something on your own. And when people do come up, they’re nice and friendly, it’s (not) madness or craziness, it’s just people being nice. The “Call Me Maybe” era was a little too intense for me, so I much prefer my privacy on some level.
Q: It seems having a big hit like that would be weirdly terrifying. You don’t know if you’re going to have another, people are constantly coming up to you.
A: It’s funny what you think you want, and what you want. I’m really glad I got to experience it, but there was some time afterwards when you feel that adrenaline of, “What’s next? How do we (make another hit)?” And I just thought, what am I working for here, because this isn’t fun, even. I would love to have a job in music, but there’s different goals, and being honest about that was critical. It doesn’t mean we didn’t try for it. We were on the road, in the hustle, but there was a point where it was good to take some time off and get back into the studio. I spent a while before “Emotion” came into fruition. When I had that album, I was hoping to find a tribe of people who loved music vs. the celebrity-ness of my career, and I’ve been so lucky to have that.
Q: Do you look at now as being better than back then?
A: I’m much happier now and I’m much more confident in who I am, and the artist that I want to be. I’m grateful for the journey of it, though. I don’t regret “Call Me Maybe,” or the craziness of what we got to experience, but every year has felt better and better.
Q: You do have a dedicated fanbase, but do they need a lot of tending? You always see Taylor Swift on Tumblr, liking fan posts. It’s a beast that needs feeding. Is yours more low maintenance?
A: Wow, I didn’t know that about Taylor. I think that’s amazing, though. I don’t think that’s anything but really cool. But it’s more of an organic feeling, like, after the shows I WANT to do the meet and greets. It doesn’t feel like a pressure thing. … “Tending” I don’t think is the right word.
Q: They wanted to give you a sword.
A: They’ve given me a few swords now.
Q: Do you keep them? Could you get them through airport security?
A: I was like, “What am I going to do with a sword? It’s so sweet, I can’t leave it here.” I gave it to my tour manager, and he cracked us up by sending us a picture of the sword wrapped in styrofoam, going through security.
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