Call Me Maybe era was too intense for Carly Rae Jepsen

Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen, performing on a float in a parade in Toronto last month, says she is more confident in who she is now and the artist she wants to be. PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO • When Canadian pop star Carly Rae 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, 1980s-dwelling pop album.

In a telephone interview, Jepsen, 33, discussed her post-Call Me Maybe life, her little-heard folk-pop debut and her fanbase.

The following is an edited version of that conversation.

You had almost 200 songs written for the album. How did you choose?

It was 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 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, bandmates and family members involved in helping me narrow it down, by throwing these kinds 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.

Is it true that you never have writer's block?

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.

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.

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"?

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."

When you're at home in Los Angeles, can you move through the world pretty easily without showing up in the Daily Mail the next day?

I do get recognised 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.

Do you look at now as being better than back then?

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.

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?

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.


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline Call Me Maybe era was too intense for Carly Rae Jepsen. Subscribe