This Will Be Our Year: Carly Rae Jepsen

This Will Be Our Year: Carly Rae Jepsen

WHETHER THEY FOUND THEIR CREATIVE FOOTING OR WERE GIVEN THEIR FIRST SHOT AT STARDOM, THESE ACTORS, MUSICIANS, AND DANCERS LIT UP 2015 AND WILL ONLY SHINE BRIGHTER FOR YEARS TO COME

THIS STORY IS AN EXCERPT FROM V98. ORDER YOUR COPY HERE NOW

WHETHER THEY FOUND THEIR CREATIVE FOOTING OR WERE GIVEN THEIR FIRST SHOT AT STARDOM, THESE ACTORS, MUSICIANS, AND DANCERS LIT UP 2015 AND WILL ONLY SHINE BRIGHTER FOR YEARS TO COME

THIS STORY IS AN EXCERPT FROM V98. ORDER YOUR COPY HERE NOW

Photography: Ben Hassett

Styling: Anna Trevelyan

Text: John Norris

Along with fresh new faces that we encountered for the first time in 2015, maybe the most unexpected triumph came from a familiar one, albeit one that had been quiet for a couple of years. Carly Rae Jepsen, who stormed onto the music scene in 2012 with one of the most maddeningly catchy monsters in pop history, knew that trying to top, replicate, or recapture the phenomenon that was “Call Me Maybe” was a fool’s errand. More importantly, it was one she wasn’t particularly interested in. “I was excited to try something different,” she explains. “And I didn’t know if it would be received well or not. But I felt like the thing I’d regret most was not following my heart, and the desire to allow myself to be a musician first, before thinking about sales.”

Her bet paid off. E•MO•TION, released in August, is one of the most acclaimed pop records of the year—a tribute to more than two years of painstaking writing and production sessions that saw Jepsen collaborate with such figures from the progressive wing of pop as Dev Hynes, Ariel Rechtshaid, and Rostam Batmanglij (whose songs made it onto the album) as well as Tegan and Sara and Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff (whose didn’t, but could well resurface another time, says Jepsen). “I think the mission for me was making something that I could personally feel really proud of,” she says. “Something that really represented where I was at musically. And now, people who are true music lovers say something good about it without it being the most massive-selling thing. I can say honestly that’s what matters more to me, in a deeper way than I could have imagined.”

Making E•MO•TION, and in effect recalibrating the kind of artist she wanted to be, was time-consuming, she concedes. And time is not always an easy ask in the major label world that Jepsen inhabits, where punctual delivery of “product” is generally expected and a bigger-is-better mindset often prevails. Yet the singer gives credit to her manager, Scooter Braun—who also steers the careers of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and others—for indulging her new path.

“I had a moment at my CD release party, at the Troubadour,” she recalls, “where I went over to Scooter and said, ‘I have to thank you. Thank you for your patience with me, and letting me really take my time, and really trusting in the fact that my inspiration would come when it came, naturally. And I know that isn’t normally how this business works. And I’m very honored that you put that trust in me.’ And he said, ‘Well the thing with you, Car, is we basically had that hit. We’re not after that now. And this was a decision to let art win over anything else. And I’m proud of you for that.’”

It isn’t obscure or inaccessible art, either. While Jepsen says she wouldn’t mind getting “even weirder” on her next outing, E•MO•TION is undeniably pop—but pop that pivots away from the relentless thump dominating 21st-century radio, and looks back to that beloved golden era, the ’80s. The synths-and-melodies equation of “Gimme Love”; “Run Away With Me,” with its wobbly sax intro; the funk-lite of “Boy Problems,” a descendant of “Into the Groove”; and the shimmery, smoky outlier “All That”—they all owe a debt to the masters: Madonna, Prince, Janet, and as Jepsen has noted countless times, Cyndi Lauper. It was a performance by the flame-haired icon in Japan several years ago that helped inspire Jepsen to undergo her musical reboot.

This summer, in a full-circle experience, she was asked to induct Lauper into the Songwriters Hall of Fame—an event that Jepsen considers her highlight of 2015. “I mean, it wasn’t my career moment, but I was just surprised and honored that I got to be the one to give the speech and introduce this woman,” she says. “And it was just an inspiring night. To hear all these writers, and to kind of appreciate the fact that there is an awards ceremony to honor writing, it was really cool. It made me have future dreams of like, God, I want something like that one day. That’s something to work for.”

JACKET AND PANTS GIORGIO ARMANI  SHIRT EMPORIO ARMANI
Credits: Makeup and grooming Marla Belt (Streeters London)  Bill Westmoreland (Art + Commerce)  Hair Neil Grupp (The Wall Group) Hair (Olivia Cooke) David von Cannon (Streeters)  Manicure Naomi Yasuda (Streeters)  Digital technician Carlo Barreto  Photo assistants Roeg Cohen, Nick Krasznai, Ian Barling, Ayesha Malik  Stylist assistants Coco Campbell and Paulina Olivares  Hair assistant Erin Herschleb  Location Pier 59 Studios

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