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By Lauren Engberg--- Staff Writer, South/Southeast
Carly Rae Jepsen is a Canadian songstress that burst into the scene with her catchy hit “Call Me Maybe” early this year. She first got her start on Canadian Idol, which led to some success in Canada after coming in third place on the tv show. With the help of Justin Bieber and friends, she was shot to global fame with “Call Me Maybe”. She has an incredibly infectious voice that will leave you singing the hit song over and over again in your head. Below is the interview I was able to do with her over the phone. We talked about her start, what she learned from Canadian Idol, her first time hearing herself on the radio, and future plans for her music. Check it out!
The Audio Booth | Carly Rae Jepsen
Can you introduce yourself to the readers of Musiqtone and tell us where you're from?
CRJ: For sure, well my name is Carly Rae Jepsen and I was born in Mission, British Columbia. I currently live in Vancouver.
How old were you when you first got into music?
CRJ: Oh, well music was always in my house when I was growing up, so I think my parents took with it the fact that I was singing all the time around the age of 6 or 7. So, the first time I ever sang on stage I was 7 years old.
Did you play any instruments while you were growing up?
CRJ: I took piano lessons, but I was really terrible at practicing. So I didn’t get very far, but I went through 5 years of it. So I picked up on it to have enough understanding that when I was 17 I was gifted a guitar for my birthday. I really took to it pretty fast and was able to kind of write songs on it almost immediately
You were on Canadian Idol and came in 3rd. What has an experience like that taught you about the business?
CRJ: In a way Canadian Idol was like an amazing sort of group camp sort of everything that I am experiencing lately. It kind of taught me why it’s so important to figure out what is different about you and what you have to offer that nobody else really has. Just cause there are so many people out there who are trying to be singers and songwriters. I had to kind of really quickly on that show figure out what was going to be and the thing that made me stand out. I still don't think that I totally figured it out all the way, but I definitely know the genre of music I am and the person I am and all of that. At the end of the day, I also think it’s really important to have thick skin and a show like that really teaches you to believe in yourself even if you are getting kind of critiqued and at the same time be able to take constructive criticism pretty well and be able to improve on it.
I found that you went out on tour as the opener for Hanson. What was that like opening for their fans?
CRJ: Oh it was probably the craziest time of my life. Because around the exact moment that I was touring with Hanson, I was also negotiating the deal with School Boy Records to sign with Justin and Scooter Braun. So it was like I was hunkered down with my band on the computer non-stop talking to lawyers and manager working out if this is actually going to happen or not. Then all of the sudden, I would take a quick break and run on stage and do a little show and then run right back to my computer to be on a conference call or something like that. So it was a very hectic time, but on days that I was able to take a breather and enjoy it I really did. But Taylor, Zac, and Isaac are all really quality, quality, quality individuals. They all gave me a bit of advice on the contract I was about to sign into and what it might lead to and all that.
What is your typical writing process like?
CRJ: Generally I begin by you know, just being sparked by something that can happen in conversation with people. You know, like hearing you talk, you might say something that’s like the perfect word or the perfect phrase I’ll write it down. That could happen with you know, extreme emotion if I'm experiencing something that I need to sort of process and go through sitting down with a guitar, pen, and paper can be really therapeutic in a way. I also think it's just inspired by love stories. So if I'm reading like a book, or if a girlfriend got a guy she's just met, or even a relationship between a brother and a sister, or a parent and a father and there’s a chaotic relationship where you are wanting to know why this fight is happening or if they're doing well. I just really like thinking of those things and putting it to words.
Call Me Maybe was originally released last year, but didn't gain much attention until early this year when Justin Bieber and friends made a music video for it. What was your initial reaction to the hype of the song?
CRJ: It was pretty amazing for me. It wasn't getting any play anywhere else in the world, but in Canada it was doing really well. I was pretty stoked likely. I was content I was making a bit of a career in Canada and Call Me Maybe was getting a lot of love. It just so happened that right when it was getting radio play Justin came home from Christmas and heard the song and liked it enough to tweet about it and eventually signed me. So it was sort of like a bit of a fairy tale come true that it got it to him the way it did and his video definitely sparked it globally in no time. It got like a million hits and that was a really good introduction to the rest of the world.
Do you find yourself looking up some of your covers of your songs as they come to you?
CRJ: Do I find myself looking them up?
Yeah, any random covers.
CRJ: Yeah, I love to watch them I haven't seen them all, but i know there are like amazing ones out there. Every once in a while my brother will sometimes be like, "Hey, you gotta see this one," and I’ll check it out. I think Scooter sent me the Harvard baseball team one. My brother sent me this one of a local fan that is closer to our hometown and it was really adorable too. Every once in a while friends and family will be like, "You need to watch this one," and it totally makes my day. It’s amazing people are kind of doing their own versions and are just taking it on. The energy is always really right in all of them. I feel like everyone just feels happy and are having a good time. That was definitely the route we were going for when we were writing the song so I'm pretty stoked about that.
Do you write songs yourself or do you do more co-writes?
CRJ: I think it's 50/50, in fact it’s probably a little bit more on me writing on my own. I definitely at the same time love co-writing because it can be a really good way to kind of get a different product that what you would get on your own and even learn. I think it’s one of the biggest tools for learning how to improve your skills working with other writers. Really quickly it becomes not necessarily a set of rules but sort of like that it starts to make sense and you both say ‘yes’ to same decision and say ‘no’ to the other decision. You start to realize with the relationships that have time to blossom, that there is really a right and wrong feeling for the song for where its meant to go. its probably one of my greatest joys of songwriting
Could you tell me about the time you first heard your song on the radio?
CRJ: The first song I ever heard on the radio was my cover of John Denver's "Sunshine On My Shoulders" and it played here in Canada. I was not expecting that to happen. It was just something that I put together as my own project after Canadian Idol. I got like 3 or 4 songs on that album that got radio play, which was amazing. The first song was "Sunshine On My Shoulders," and when that happened I was with the guy I was seeing at the time. He was a saxophone player, and he was playing at this thing where they had an open bar. I had my first martini and I got sick off of it as soon as I heard my song play on the radio.
The ending of your music video isn't really what the viewers kind of were expecting, how'd that idea come up?
The idea was actually originally Ben Knechtel. He was the director and treatment writer of the music video. He thought it would be fun to have a bit of a twist ending. When he sent it my way, I had already written my own treatment for the video like I do for all songs that become singles. So, it’s kind of like I have my own concept, but I always end up liking Ben's better. I was like, "Yours is so hilarious." I tossed mine right away and we went with it.
Yeah, I remember watching it and my jaw absolutely dropping.
CRJ: Oh, good. That's the reaction we were going for!
If someone were to use your lyrics as a pick up line, would you go for it?
CRJ: I would say they would have to be a really special someone, cause probably not. Because it would have to be in a way total joke style because it is very cheesy to recite song lyrics.
With the success of Call Me Maybe, is there any plans for a new single out or tour at any point?
CRJ: Yeah, that's sort of what I'm doing. I was in the studio last night and getting right back in the studio and just working on getting the second single nailed down to have a few options. It never hurts to write a few extras and see what happens. After that, we have an album coming out for fall and a tour shortly after around the same time. I'm very stoked for that. I think we have a few shows between then, I think, we're doing Wango Tango in LA.
Finally, do you have anything else you want to say to your fans?
CRJ: A big fat thank you, and just like wow you all have been amazing and totally just you know the support has been fantastic. I can’t wait to see you all soon and bring you more music.
Thank you so much for spending time to talk with me!