Music : pop canadian
Carly Rae Jepsen with The Wanted
Carly Rae Jepsenz
“I guess there’s a part of you that always wants to try something a little bit different than what you’ve done before,” says Carly Rae Jepsen.
That’s curiosity for you. It’s a good instinct to have. Without it, this Vancouver-based musician would never have left her Mission, B.C. hometown for the life of a singer-songwriter -- a career that’s so far produced an acclaimed debut album (2008’s Tug of War), a MuchMusic Video Award nomination, two gold-certified singles (“Bucket,” “Tug of War”) and -- to top it all -- two 2010 Juno Award nominations for Best New Artist and Songwriter of the Year.
She also wouldn’t have Curiosity. That’s her new record, a collection of heart-on-sleeve pop songs about, fittingly enough, life’s biggest curiosity -- love, and all the complications that come with it. Its sound -- a blend of confessional lyrics, sweet acoustic gems and straight-up pop -- is just as strangely fascinating, not least of all to Carly herself. How she stumbled upon one of its main inspirations is still something of a wonder.
She was doing what she does – writing music – when something truly curious sneaked up on her. That thing was a song called – what else? – “Curiosity.” Like much of her new album, it was crafted with long-time collaborator, writer/producer Ryan Stewart, and it’s about a girl (“or me,” she laughs) hung up on a bad boy, a guy she knows is no good, but she’ll never stop thinking about. The subject is a universal push-and-pull, one the singer-songwriter even tackled on “Tug of War” (a tune that went on to beat the likes of Nickelback to win the 2010 Canadian Radio Music Award for Song of the Year). But “Curiosity” came rushing out differently, with pop and snap and a bubblegum chorus harder to shake than the bad-boy she’s crowing about.
“I was singing it in the mic, to demo it out, with these guts that I didn’t know I had. And it was exciting. It was like a braver version of me that I never had experimented with before, at least not out loud to people,” she says.
Carly didn’t know what to do about the new song. It felt so natural. She thought about it constantly -- at home in Vancouver, while doing a promotional tour of Japan, and then back again. For eight months, she and Ryan wrestled with it. She wondered: “How would this fit on my record?”
Sure, she’s always spinning the likes of La Roux, Kimbra and Dragonette on her stereo, but this is a girl whose roots are in folk. As a little girl, her dad would sing her to sleep with James Taylor classics. As a fledgling musician she ran an acoustic night at a Vancouver cafe. Even during her 2007 run on Canadian Idol she was auditioning with her own material and covering Janis Ian. And then there were all the songs she’d promised herself she’d showcase on album No. 2 -- jangly and cozy folk-pop creations more Natalie Imbruglia than Kylie Minogue.
Those tunes are still there in force (just look to “Europe” or “Alice in Wonderland”). Still, Carly decided that when it came to “Curiosity,” it was love. Pop had just as much a place on her record as folk. Ryan was just as “stoked” about the song as she was -- and so, the real fun began.
The songs rushed out, a whole 35 of them written -- with most of the record made at Ryan’s Wine Cellar Studios in Vancouver, then mixed by Dave “Rave” Ogilvie (David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Jakalope) at Mushroom Studios. And Carly’s friends and family were along for the whole process, the singer inviting them to listening sessions -- baiting them with new tunes and fresh popcorn -- so they could help her pick the sweetest of the bunch.
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