Call Carly Rae Jepsen one of 2015’s breakout stars.
Her album Emotion (School Boy/Interscope) is one of the year’s best, with praise raining down from nearly every corner.
“It’s blowing my mind,” says Jepsen, calling from her Los Angeles home. She adds that she doesn’t really look at reviews, “but my mom is one of the proudest women in the world, so I end up seeing some of them.”
Her single “I Really Like You” charmed Tom Hanks so much that he agreed to lip-synch the entire thing for the video. Her musical chops led to her working with everyone from Sia (“Boy Problems”) to Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij (“Warm Blood”) to Merrick’s CJ Baran (“Let’s Get Lost”).
Jepsen remembers when she was working on Emotion with Baran while she was starring in “Cinderella” on Broadway. “I lost my voice when we were recording it because I was so into it, I couldn’t stop,” she says.
It’s unusual to work with so many collaborators on an album and still have it sound so cohesive. How were you able to accomplish that?
It was a long journey of exploration. There were about 200 songs written for this album, and it was in the whittling-down process that we got to the 17 that you hear. One of the goals was to get to something that felt really cohesive and that helped me narrow it down. I wanted to have an ’80s pop flavor to everything.
So you were 4 years old when the ’80s ended. Why are you so drawn to that period?
I’m a very old soul. (Laughs.) It’s an attraction to what I feel is the very best era of pop music. I love pop music. … I think there was a little more grit, a little more — forgive me for saying it — “emotion” to that era of pop music. I wanted to try to incorporate that into the style of music I was doing.
And in the’80s, the music really did seem so innocent and very heart-on-your-sleeve in a way that doesn’t really fly today.
It was kind of an escape from reality. There’s a bit of fantasy on the album in that we’ve heightened everything — heightened the love and heightened the drama. I think that’s what I loved about the ’80s, too, is how emotional everything got. It makes you really think about heartbreak in a really intense way.
What will the “Gimme Love” tour be like?
It’s really been the most enjoyable performing that I’ve ever done. It has more of a musical vibe than it ever did before. Mostly, though, this is going to be fun. I just want everyone to have fun and to sing along.