It's been one heck of a musical journey for singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen. Growing up in a small town outside of Vancouver, Carly's first taste of stardom came through her thrilling experience on Canadian Idol, where she placed third in the fifth season back in 2007. After completing an Idol Top 3 tour across Canada, she came home to British Columbia ready to sign a record deal, and 2008's Tug Of War was released with excellent reception in her home country.
Four years later, Carly's back in the game with Curiosity, an EP about her fascination with anything and everything to do with love. This time around, Carly's reach has gone further than just Canada, with the help of pop power couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez tweeting their love for Curiosity's debut single "Call Me Maybe". In fact, Justin loved the song so much that his manager Scooter Braun took notice and now Carly is officially signed to his label Schoolboy Records! As "Call Me Maybe" blows up the pop charts, we chatted with Carly about her musical journey that's taking off as we speak...
ML: The ride started back in 2007 when you were a finalist on Canadian Idol. What's it been like going from a small town in Canada to where you are now?
CRJ: My family and my community was very based around the arts and songwriting. My father's a songwriter, my uncle's a songwriter, and I grew up with drama teachers who were really great at musical theatre. As a child I was surrounded by that. Then, when Idol happened, it was my drama teacher who drove me to the audition and that was, of course, the reality TV show whirlwind that it is. But it was also my ticket in, because it was kind of my first 15 seconds of fame, y'know? Even on such a small level (laughs). It's been the biggest challenge ever to use [Idol] in a way that can really a career for yourself afterwards. And it's kind of been the fight ever since for me.
ML: Who were your major musical influences growing up?
CRJ: In our house, James Taylor was a huge one, but Van Morrison was also really up there. So it was kind of more folky, singer-songwriter types. When it comes to singers, I remember the first singer that ever really every inspired me was Sinead O'Connor. I just thought that her clarity and the emotion that she evoked when she sang was really something.
ML: How do you go about writing music? Do you write in the studio or do you prefer something a bit more intimate?
CRJ: Personally, songwriting for me is based around just listening to people — listening to myself when I'm talking, and hearing when there's a combination of words that are said in a way that I haven't heard before that make a lot of sense. Even if there's a beautiful word that I have stuck in my head for a while and I know I want to fit it into a song — that's usually how I go about it. It's really based around the words for me. Generally, it's kind of journal-entry after that. I always write a folksy song on my guitar, and they're really based around one or two phrases that I've really liked that I'll just elaborate on.
ML: Your new EP, Curiosity, which fittingly came out on Valentine's Day, is all about love. What inspired that?
CRJ: When it comes to me personally, [the subject of love] has always been a lifelong fascination. When I meet people and I get to that point where you're past the preliminary "Hey, how's it going, how's the weather" kind of conversation, I always want to know their love story or something that really speaks from the heart. Because it is what I fascinate over and what I like to write about.
ML: What was that like to be endorsed by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez on Twitter?
CRJ: It's pretty amazing. Just like Idol it's like one of those legs up that I wasn't expecting to be in my story. Sometimes you just don't know where you'll get that leg up (laughs). I definitely would never have imagined that it would come from Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez but man, am I grateful! It's just flattering to know that they like the song. I think that they're both very talented at what they do, so having two very talented pop stars say that they like your pop music is about as good as it gets.
ML: So what's the next step for you? What's next up for Carly Rae?
CRJ: If I have my way, that'll be touring more constantly and hopefully outside of Canada soon. And everything that I'm working towards right now is with that goal in mind, so hope for me cause I think there would be nothing greater than a life spent touring the world through music.
ML: OK so just a few quick questions to finish things off here: What's your favorite lyric of all time? Because lyrics are kind of our specialty here...
CRJ: I really like Joni Mitchell's "I could drink a chase of you and still be on my feet".
ML: Good choice! How about a must-have karaoke hit?
CRJ: I think I'd do "Like A Prayer" by Madonna!
ML: How about your dream collaboration? Anybody in particular?
CRJ: It would be pretty rad to collaborate with Biebs (laughs) especially now that I'm embracing pop in such a big way. I think it would be so fun to write with somebody who has such massive appeal and who I also think has such massive talent. But I think also the singer-songwriter in me would also really pine for a collaboration with John Mayer.
ML: Lastly, do you have any tips to give to that guy or girl that's sitting in a small town, working hard, looking for thatbigbreak?
CRJ: The one thing that I've learned from my journey so far is that you don't know where that break is gonna be, so don't shy away from trying it all. It's kind of hidden sometimes, and for me the way that I expected to get the help and the support was initially not through Canadian Idol! And not through these different avenues, but it really was the ticket for me. So, I would say just be open to trying it all and also to hone in on what it is about you that is really different, what you have to offer that nobody else does, what is original.
The challenge is that everybody has a different idea of what is the best route to take. I kind of followed every route! (laughs) Like, I literally knocked on every door, as silly as that sounds. I tried it all and I ended up landing with the right group of people.
Watch and listen to Carly's new hit "Call Me Maybe" below.
Pick up Carly Rae Jepsen's new EP Curiosity on iTunes now and check out her Facebook page.
What do you think of Carly's advice to up-and-coming artists? Let us know your thoughts on the interview below!