In the know
What: Carly Rae Jepsen
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Mondavi Center
Info: www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787
“Call Me Maybe” is more than a hit pop song, it’s a cultural phenomenon. From the Justin Bieber/Selena Gomez dance video on YouTube, to Cookie Monster’s “Share it Maybe,” the song was omnipresent last summer.
“Call Me Maybe” catapulted 27-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen into superstardom. Five times platinum, it sold more than 9.1 million singles worldwide, hit No. 1 in 37 countries, and spent a record-breaking nine weeks on the Billboard chart.
Hot off the success of “Call Me Maybe” and the album “Kiss,” Jepsen has been touring nonstop. Before this year’s tour winds down, she’s coming to Davis. Carly Rae Jepsen will perform Wednesday at the Mondavi Center. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. with Hot Celle Rae. Tickets, at $39.50, are available at www.mondaviarts.org or at the Mondavi Center ticket office, 530-754-2787.
Jepsen was an established artist in Canada for several years. She placed third on “Canadian Idol,” released two albums and two gold singles and received two Juno Award nominations. But she didn’t gain fame in the United States until 2012.
“I had a Canadian career, making my living off music,” Jepsen told The Enterprise. “That was my main goal. I was able to quit my waitressing job a few years back and do my thing in Canada. I played much smaller venues — acoustic bars and pubs — that were casual.”
From those humble beginnings she went on to perform with Justin Bieber.
“The transition was strange, for sure,” she said.
“The first show he invited me to was in front of 300,000 people. It was one of those moments where I opened my mouth to sing and I was surprised sound came out,” she said with a laugh.
How has life been on the road?
“It’s been really enjoyable,” Jepsen said. “I’m surprised because I’m usually inclined to stay in the studio and write songs more than I am to pack up and hit the road. I’m a weird musician in that way. But this tour has been more fun than I expected.”
Having her family around helped.
“My sister joined me for the first round,” Jepsen said. “She encourages me to party with her. I’m usually such a good girl on the road. She’s kind of a bad influence, but it’s fun!
“Now I have my cousin with me,” she added. “We make it a big party. I love performing every night, trying to do the best show, and then afterwards we play soccer in the field or throw a BBQ.”
Jepsen’s music has morphed throughout her career. Her 2008 debut “Tug of War” was a folk-tinged album. She grew up in a folk-inspired house, listening to Van Morrison and James Taylor.
“I also loved Sinead O’Connor and Melissa Etheridge. Then I moved to the city,” she said. “I was asked to write a song for a pop group in Canada. My writing partner Ryan Stewart and I worked on it for three months, which is unheard of. By the time it was done I’d grown attached to it. I didn’t want to give it away. It opened up this world of pop to me.”
She began listening to old and new pop music like Cyndi Lauper and Robyn.
“Three songs into it we wrote ‘Call Me Maybe’ and that was it,” she said.
Jepsen had just moved to Los Angeles, was newly in love and was feeling happy. She wanted to express that with “Kiss.”
“The goal was to make an album that made people feel happy,” she said. “I was too excited to write my Alanis Morissette record, which I know is in me somewhere.”
With her new-found popularity, Jepsen often gets recognized in public. Is it difficult to deal with the fame?
“Yeah, sometimes,” she admitted. “I don’t know if this is evil of me but sometimes I’ll just lie. They’ll ask, ‘Are you Carly?’ and I’ll say, ‘No.’ It might not be the best way but I value my privacy, especially if I’m with my family or boyfriend. I don’t want to drag them into my career and the spotlight that comes with it.”
However, she added: “When I’m on, it means the world to me to talk to fans. Especially when they tell me how much a song means to them. It’s part of the reason I write.”
If there was ever a time to see Jepsen perform, it’s now.
“Every tour is always best as the end,” she said. “You’ve had all that time to work out the kinks. I always say hit the last shows of the tour.”
What can the Davis audience expect? “We throw a little retro pop party with streamers,” she said. “We pull people on stage and make them dance.”
Jepsen recommends dressing “crazy” for the show. “Tutus, suspenders, anything crazy,” she said. “I pick people from the crowd that are dressed in a dramatic way because I like that unusual vibe.”
Who knows? She might call you, maybe.
— Reach Landon Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org