Don’t call her maybe: Carly Rae Jepsen has a brand-new sound.

Af­ter a fren­zied rise to pop star­dom in 2012 thanks to the megahit “Call Me Maybe,” to­day Carly Rae Jepsen is learn­ing what life looks like left of cen­tre.

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider - By Aliyah Shamsher

Carly Rae Jepsen emerges from the dress­ing room wear­ing a crys­tal-beaded flared mini, black Chelsea boots and a cus­tom­ized lamb-leather and neo­prene mo­tor­cy­cle jacket by Rudsak thrown over her shoul­ders. It’s one of the fi­nal looks of the day for her cover shoot, and the whole room can hardly con­tain their ex­cite­ment. But af­ter a cou­ple of shots, Jepsen won­ders aloud if the out­fit is work­ing and qui­etly asks if she can try another look. She dis­ap­pears for a mo­ment with the stylist, and a switch is made. She reap­pears in a black miniskirt and semi-sheer black turtle­neck crop top by Mu­gler with the same leather jacket thrown over her shoul­ders—and this time around, the look has the 29-year-old pop star twirling. This may seem like a rel­a­tively small change, but for Jepsen it’s a noted tri­umph as she nav­i­gates her way back into the public eye af­ter spend­ing al­most two and a half years away from the mu­sic in­dus­try.

“I think I’ve learned a lot about my­self,” the Cana­dian star says just min­utes into our con­ver­sa­tion af­ter the shoot. “Even learn­ing that I could say ‘no’ or that I didn’t have to be the ‘yes girl’ all the time was a re­ally im­por­tant les­son.” A hard-won les­son, no doubt, es­pe­cially af­ter her 2012 world­wide hit “Call Me Maybe” cat­a­pulted her— prac­ti­cally overnight—into the cen­tre of pop-star fandom, a sce­nario that the artist calls both a “fairy tale” and a “dou­ble-edged sword.” (It’s hard to say no when you feel lucky just to be in the room.) “When I first moved [to L.A.], I still felt like a lit­tle girl, even though I was 26. I was just very grate­ful for ev­ery­thing and scared to say any­thing,” re­calls Jepsen. “There were so many things that I wouldn’t be vo­cal about. This time, I’m a lit­tle bit less afraid and more in con­trol.”

Rewind back a few years, and Jepsen, who’d moved from Mis­sion, B.C., to Van­cou­ver, had worked her way up from be­ing a part-time barista and sleep­ing on a friend’s couch to fin­ish­ing third on Cana­dian Idol in 2007. The fol­low­ing year, she re­leased her first solo al­bum, Tug of War. Things were quiet on the ca­reer front un­til 2011, when she re­leased the sin­gle “Call Me Maybe” while work­ing on her sopho­more al­bum. Af­ter her song reached num­ber 11 on Cana­dian iTunes, Jepsen was ec­static: “I kept think­ing ‘Dad, look! I’m mak­ing money from mu­sic!’” It was then that Jepsen hit the so­cial-media jack­pot: Justin Bieber and Se­lena Gomez tweeted about the song af­ter hear­ing it on Cana­dian ra­dio. It sud­denly sky­rock­eted to num­ber one in 15 coun­tries, selling more than 12 mil­lion copies, and be­came the best­selling sin­gle world­wide in 2012. It was also the first song by a Cana­dian artist to reach the top of the Nielsen Sound­Scan Dig­i­tal Songs chart since Bieber’s “Baby” in Jan­uary 2010. It’s the kind of suc­cess that many dream about but few ob­tain (a good old­fash­ioned fairy tale in­deed). While Jepsen at­tributes most of her suc­cess to luck (“It was just the right song at the right place at the right time”), many crit­ics have noted that she is able to do what few pop stars can do to­day: cre­ate a hit song that ev­ery­body—from your 16-year-old sis­ter to your 70-year-old grand­mother—truly loves. Just Google “Call Me Maybe Par­ody” and 357,000 en­tries come up; even the likes of Tay­lor Swift and Ri­hanna have never been able to achieve that.

But Jepsen, who rushed to cre­ate her third al­bum, Kiss, in un­der two months to cap­i­tal­ize on the suc­cess of “Call Me Maybe,” quickly be­gan to feel like it wasn’t re­ally about her any­more. “I’d show up to a [writ­ing] ses­sion and peo­ple would be like ‘You’re just here for dec­o­ra­tion; we’ll write the song and give you credit,’” she says. And af­ter be­ing re­peat­edly asked how she was go­ing to top “Call Me Maybe” by man­age­ment and writ­ers, Jepsen de­cided that she’d had enough and called it quits. Want to know what hap­pens af­ter the fairy tale ends? For Jepsen, it in­volved a two-year break, qui­etly liv­ing her life be­tween New York, L.A. and Swe­den and slowly but surely tak­ing back con­trol. “I’d rather be able to morph and change nat­u­rally,” says the artist. “I got to this place where I re­mem­ber be­ing like ‘I don’t want to make “Call Me Maybe”’ again!” she says, laugh­ing, and then quickly adds, “That was an amaz­ing time in my life, but to have to re­cy­cle the same sort of song for­ever is just not in­spir­ing to me.”

For most of 2014, Jepsen played Cin­derella on Broad­way (along­side Fran Drescher), and while many crit­ics spec­u­lated that this was the be­gin­ning of the end for Jepsen’s mu­sic ca­reer, the artist notes that it was pre­cisely be­cause of her role on Broad­way that she felt com­pelled to make another pop al­bum. “I think do­ing Cin­derella re­ally placed me out­side of what I thought was the whole world,” she says. “Be­ing around peo­ple who not only didn’t care if you were in the pop world but ac­tu­ally pre­ferred if you weren’t took my head out of that game in a re­ally healthy way. Sud­denly, it wasn’t about sit­ting down and writ­ing a song but hav­ing an idea while h

“I got to this place where I re­mem­ber be­ing like ‘i don’t want to make “call me maybe”’ again!”

walk­ing through New York City and think­ing ‘Where’s my phone?’” Af­ter record­ing what would later be­come her ti­tle track, “Emo­tion,” while still on Broad­way (“The night I recorded it, I had to do a show, and af­ter­wards the di­rec­tor asked me why Cin­derella sounded like Ja­nis Jo­plin!”), Jepsen knew it was time to get back into the stu­dio.

Two years— and 200 songs— later, Jepsen is fi­nally re­leas­ing her fourth al­bum, Emo­tion (out Au­gust 21). In­stead of rush­ing and try­ing to make split-sec­ond de­ci­sions about her sound and di­rec­tion, the star took her time, work­ing on songs for weeks, in mul­ti­ple cities and with mul­ti­ple writ­ers, in­clud­ing Dev Hynes from Blood Or­ange, Rostam Bat­man­glij from Vam­pire Week­end and pop su­per­star Sia—a process that she says “suits [her] per­son­al­ity more.” “I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing dif­fer­ent with Emo­tion. I was reach­ing out to peo­ple my­self; [the col­labs] may seem a bit un­ex­pected, but it was im­por­tant for me to try and work with them. I gave my­self time to experiment and make some left turns,” she says. “I think it’s hard for artists when they’re known for one type of mu­sic—you go through this re­bel­lion stage and think ‘But I’m so much more!’ And I def­i­nitely felt that. So I wrote about 200 songs just for me and my own heart.”

The re­sult­ing al­bum is a 17-track synth-heavy ode to 1980s pop that looks to strip away the artist’s sug­ary-sweet vo­cals of the past in or­der to re­veal a richer, sul­trier sound. Lis­ten­ing to a lot of Madonna, Prince and Cyndi Lau­per dur­ing the record­ing process, Jepsen knew that it had to be a 1980s al­bum from the get-go. h

(“That’s when pop was at its finest!”) Her first sin­gle, “I Re­ally Like You,” al­ready has 64 mil­lion views on YouTube. (The video fea­tures yet another col­lab, this time with Tom Hanks.) How­ever, it was a song she was hes­i­tant to re­lease. “It was a big de­bate, ac­tu­ally,” says Jepsen. “You’ll find that the sound sort of stands alone.” It’s true: Out of all the songs on the al­bum, this one is most rem­i­nis­cent of Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” days. But, in the end, the artist agreed that it was a good tran­si­tion for fans, and she’s hop­ing they’ll want to dis­cover more. “I want to push past what tra­di­tional pop can be; it can be hooky, but I was try­ing to be re­ally hon­est about how I feel and bare my soul a lit­tle.”

Per­haps Jepsen’s in­ter­est in be­ing “re­ally hon­est,” with her fans and her­self, can be at­trib­uted to the fact that she’s turn­ing 30 this year. “So far ev­ery year that I’ve got­ten older, I feel more con­fi­dent in know­ing who I am,” she says. “And there are a lot of peo­ple in my life who keep telling me that my 30s will be the best decade ever!” Jepsen has also trans­formed her look to match her cur­rent mood. Shed­ding her gir­lie boho dresses and long, flow­ing hair for menswear-inspired pieces and a very fit­ting 1980s Ally Sheedy hair­cut, the artist is try­ing a more an­drog­y­nous look on for size. “I think it started in Swe­den,” she says. “I want to wear things now that make me feel strong and em­pow­ered rather than sexy and cute.” She also dyed her hair jet black while on a 25-city Euro­pean tour to pro­mote “I Re­ally Like You.” “It was sort of this bounc­ing-around ef­fect, where you’re not re­ally sure which coun­try you’re in, and I found my­self get­ting to a point where I was like ‘I need to dye my hair black!’” she says, laugh­ing. “I just need a bit of ‘emoness’ at the mo­ment.”

And could she also be feel­ing a bit ner­vous about re­leas­ing an al­bum that is so close to her heart? “I don’t have that feel­ing, and I don’t know if I should,” says Jepsen. “My emo­tions are all off. But mostly there’s just a real hunger to get this mu­sic out there and for peo­ple to hear the other songs.” If she’s ner­vous about any­thing, it’s cop­ing with the celebrity side of the busi­ness. “I feel like that was a weird ad­just­ment for me,” she says, remembering her first go-around with fame. “I was in­tro­duced to so many so­cialites who would in­vite me to red-car­pet events. But I was like ‘Meh! I’d rather just go to a whisky bar and not have to go out!’” (She still doesn’t, un­less she’s tour­ing.) Jepsen is mostly feel­ing “proud” and “ex­cited,” and she still counts her­self lucky—but this time for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent rea­son: “There have been many fairy god­moth­ers along the way that just keep of­fer­ing me op­por­tu­ni­ties,” she says. “But this time, I have peo­ple who, in­stead of forc­ing me to do some­thing I don’t want to do, get what I’m try­ing to cre­ate and are help­ing me make it even bet­ter.” n

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