Carly Rae Jepsen
Label: 604 Records
from Vancouver BC
You know your song has become a bonafide cultural phenomenon when both Colin Powell and the Cookie Monster have covered it. The irresistible earworm “Call Me Maybe” was inescapable this summer, its ubiquity turning its co-author, Canadian singer and songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, into a breakout star. The 5x-platinum “Call Me Maybe” has sold more than 9.1 million singles worldwide and climbed to No. 1 in more than 37 countries, including the U.S. where it spent a record-breaking nine weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
Although she’s been an established artist in Canada for several years — with a third-place finish on Canadian Idol, two gold singles, two albums, and two Juno Award nominations to her name — Jepsen was a virtual unknown in the U.S. when “Call Me Maybe” hit it big. Now she’s looking forward to showing the rest of the world what else she has in her bag of tricks with the release of her U.S. debut album Kiss, which showcases her rich, distinctive voice, heartfelt lyrics, and down-to-earth charm.
Jepsen wrote or co-wrote nearly every song on the album, collaborating with songwriters and producers Max Martin, Dallas Austin, LMFAO’s Redfoo, Toby Gad, Marianas Trench singer Josh Ramsay, and Cherrytree/Interscope artist Matthew Koma.
Jepsen’s story begins in Mission, British Columbia, where she grew up the daughter of educators and music lovers. “Since I was a kid, my parents and step-parents could see that I was really passionate about music,” Jepsen says. “I sang to anything I could mimic.” Jepsen’s father played guitar and would sing her James Taylor songs at night before bed while her mother taught her lyrics to Leonard Cohen songs. “Music was the way I connected with everyone and my family encouraged that in me,” she says.
Jepsen caught the musical theater bug in high school, starring in Annie, The Wiz, and Grease, and attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria after graduating. At 17, she got her first guitar and, because her parents were in the school system, thought she might become a music teacher, although singing her own songs eventually won out. Jepsen performed in pubs, challenging herself to win over indifferent audiences. “I knew I had done well if they got quiet and were watching me by the end,” she says. “It felt like, ‘I had to fight for that one, but it was so worth it.’”
By 2007, playing in pubs had gotten old and somehow becoming a music teacher didn’t seem too appealing either. Jepsen’s high-school drama instructor, whom she describes as “a Mr. Holland’s Opus type,” encouraged her to try out forCanadian Idol. “I wasn’t convinced, but my teacher said, ‘The only way that any of these doors are going to open is if you knock on every single one of them. Don’t decide your path. Let it decide you.’ The day of the audition, I remember thinking, ‘I could have a long bath, or I could just go audition.’”
Jepsen placed third on Canadian Idol and released her first album Tug of Warindependently through Fontana/Maple Music in August 2008. The album spawned two gold singles, “Tug of War” and “Bucket,” and earned her a Canadian Radio Music Award for Song of the Year along with a new signing to Canada’s 604 Records. Carly was also nominated for Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year (with her producer Ryan Stewart) and a Much Music Video Award for UR FAVE New Artist.
In February 2012, Jepsen released Curiosity, a six-song EP that showcased a poppier sound than she had delivered on the folk-flavored Tug of War. “I knew that I had changed as an artist after being on the road with bands like Marianas Trench and The New Cities,” Jepsen says. “I saw the effect they had on the crowd, how they inspired the audience to get up and dance and that appealed to me. I wanted to create that kind of energy with my music. I was also listening to different things, like Robyn, La Roux, and Dragonette, and I just felt a change in myself. I didn’t know how it was going to be accepted, but I couldn’t deny that it was happening.”
Following her instincts has paid off for Jepsen. Kiss is a killer dance-pop set that is poised to launch her even further into the stratosphere. “I just want people to enjoy it,” she says. “I hope it’s music that makes you feel happy and want to sing or dance along. And maybe it will inspire people to be brave in love.”