Although it’s been a while since we’ve heard new music from Carly Rae Jepsen (three years, to be exact), there is one thing she wants everyone to know: She is not a one-hit wonder.
The Canadian singer-songwriter who rose to international fame after the infectious “Call Me Maybe” topped the charts throughout the majority of 2012 has been working on the follow-up to her debut album, Kiss, and despite professional pressures and the eagerness of her fan base, she was in no hurry to create something haphazardly.
“I didn’t want to rush something out of the pure desire to have a product,” Jepsen says about the process in making and releasing E·MO·TION, her latest album of carefully crafted ’80s-themed pop confections. “I really care about what I was making, and I wanted it to be right before I send it out into the world.”
“Regardless of the outside opinion, which I could be privy to and well aware of, I was defined very much by 'Call Me Maybe,'” she says. “I knew that’s not how I defined myself and I knew that people who are close-knit in my band and in my family and friends who were listening to the stuff that I was making outside of that were equally excited about that material too, and so was I. On top of the pressure of having to follow up that song, stronger than that was a true desire to show that I knew I had more.”
And as E·MO·TION proves, she indeed has so much more to her artistry than just one hit song. From the catchy, up-tempo singles “I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me,” to slower, brooding tunes like “All That” (which was cowritten by the in-demand "not gay, not straight" producer Devonte Hynes, a.k.a. Blood Orange). the 12-track record is heavily influenced by synth beats and has a pleasantly overwhelming ’80s vibe you can’t help but feel nostalgic about. Even if, like Jepsen, you didn’t even grow up in the decade.
“I was an ’80s baby, but I didn’t grow up listening to ’80s music. I kind of found my way back to it, actually,” Jepsen says, citing iconic names like Prince and Cyndi Lauper as some of her favorite musical influences. In fact, Jepsen has a profound love for Lauper’s music — so much so that it helped inspire her to create E·MO·TION in the first place.
“I think what kind of spun this ’80s feel for the album is a show that I saw in Osaka and again in Tokyo where Cyndi Lauper played a 70-minute set,” she recalls. “I was backstage for the whole thing, and her writing history just goes way back. The things that she’s making today are equally amazing. She’s kind of forever changing and challenging herself.”
The feelings of admiration are mutual.
“It’s always nice to hear when a young artist says that I was an influence. That’s great,” Lauper told The Advocate when she heard of Jepsen’s love of her work. “When you form as an artist over the years, you hear a voice or you read a lyric, and they move you. That makes you grow as an artist. For me, it was singers like Big Mama Thornton, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, and Barbra Streisand. So I am very happy to know Carly found something in my work that she thought was cool.”
Besides Jepsen’s adoration for the pop architects of decades past, she also drew from many personal experiences to conjure the feelings necessary to write the songs on E·MO·TION.
“I definitely put a lot of myself into all of the music that I am creating, but I think E·MO·TION was a craving for realness,” Jepsen explains. “A craving to kind of show things outside of 'Call Me Maybe' and Kiss, and to allow myself to expand beyond sort of what pop music needs to be and instead be just what felt natural.”
Her music may serve as a throwback to earlier pop sounds, but her songs don't veer from timeless themes.
“I think the subject of love is something I'm quite fascinated by. If you ask any of my girlfriends or guy friends what our conversations start off with, it’s always about relationships and what’s going on in their love lives, because I do find a constant pool of inspiration from that,” she continues. “Not just my own love life. I can relate to everything that they’re saying, but I wanted [E·MO·TION] to be an album that people could also feel like was theirs, not just mine. I think the subject of love is very universal.”
And included in her universal message of love is Jepsen’s big gay fan base. The fan base she’s been advocating for and supporting since the early stages of her career and one she knows she’s fortunate to always have.
“There’s been moments in my career when I feel like what we’re doing is actually important, and those are such special moments. Being a part of the LGBT celebration in New York when we found out there was marriage equality throughout the whole country, that was a moment where you go to sleep kind of shivering,” she says. “You feel like what you’re doing matters in a different way, and who would have thought that music could be a part of that? I feel very lucky.”
Watch Carly Rae Jepsen's video for her latest single, “Run Away With Me,” below, and order her newest album, E·MO·TION, on iTunes.