Carly Rae Jepsen: "You Need to Stand By What You Do and Not Compromise"
Carly Rae Jepsen seems worried about me. At the moment, she doesn't seem to care about the 13 million copies sold of her omnipresent "Call Me Maybe," her meteoric ascent, nor even the slightest mention of the stadium show she's about to play in Cape Cod, a stop on her Summer Kiss stadium tour. Jepsen is more concerned with what I'm doing, which is conducting our interview 53 miles west of Yuma, en route to a surf trip, on some godforsaken off-ramp in 110-degree heat. She wants to talk about that before anything else.
Courtesy of Universal Music
Jepsen is far unlike most artists of her stature. Exemplified by our after-school phone call rapport, she's characteristically unguarded, talking a million miles a minute and peppering her storytelling with the occasional giggle. Even from some 2,800 miles away, she's a charmer, and maybe that's because we're not talking about her outfits or nail color -- we're talking about her artistry, something that the public can easily forget when everyone from the Biebs himself to Colin Powell have sung her ubiquitous, Billboard-topping single.
"The thing about success in this career is that there isn't just one short path and there's a lot of knocking on different doors and you hope to God that one of them opens," she says. "I think once you're through that door, when it comes to actual art, you need to stand by what you do and not compromise."
Though she does come from a singer-songwriter background, cutting her teeth and pulling out all the intimate stops on 2008's Tug of War, Jepsen is an unabashed fan of pop music. Her Canadian upbringing was shaped by the sounds of James Taylor and Van Morrison, artists whose classic pop structures pushed her down the path of the troubadour.
She made her initial rounds in Vancouver's coffee shop scene, playing venues like the Corduroy Lounge and opening for touring acts. When big-time recognition came calling in the form of Justin Bieber's Twitter endorsement of "Call Me Maybe" last January, Jepsen soon found herself opening for Bieber, shifting from 3,000-capacity rooms in Canada to recalling a particular Mexico City crowd of 300,000. Such a drastic change helped to prepare her for her first headlining tour.
"My security blanket in that was that it was an opening set -- I would sing the top five and then run off-stage, so it was kind of like a teaser taste and not much worry about having to do anything but run out, jump up and down a couple times, and get out of there," she says. "With the headlining tour, I get to bring people into my world."