When Carly Rae Jepsen calls me (through a PR manager, not direct, although I’ll be claiming it for the rest of my god-given days) she’s mere hours removed from stepping off a plane from Thailand. The Dedicated world tour – in support of her album of the same name released earlier in the year – has just snaked its way through south-east Asia, having previously tackled Canada, the United States, and Europe. Understandably, she’s knackered.
There’s unpacked bags by the door where she dropped them, she tells me, and she’s deeply ashamed that she hasn’t found the energy to deal with them in the 24-hours since she’s been home. I tell her there’s an unpacked suitcase with a crumpled UberEats bag resting atop it in my hallway, both of which have remained untouched ever since I returned home from a trip some two-and-a-half weeks ago. My slovenly admission of the filth I find acceptable to live in makes her “feel much better,” I’m assured.
Jepsen, the 33-year-old Canadian pop prodigy who shot to global fame on the back of one of the first true viral pop songs of the modern social media era, has endured and built an audience far beyond the immediacy of Call Me Maybe. Largely, that’s been built on the back of inarguably one of the most interesting bodies of work assembled in recent times.
Her music is accessible and wholly joyous, punctuated with both sizzling hooks and surgical restraint. It’s adult-contemporary bubblegum pop; dance floor fillers for people who grew up enveloped by …Baby One More Time and its ilk, then found Dad’s dusty copy of Purple Rain at age 22, before getting their heart shattered at 29 and piecing it back together with Sav Blanc rather than Guava Cruisers.
And on the verge of her first-ever Australian tour, which kicks off in Sydney on November 26th, there’s quite a bit to talk about.
So we talked about cats.
Carly Rae’s music video for Now That I Found You, the second single released off her fourth studio album Dedicated, is the only music video in the history of the genre bold enough to ask the question: “Is there such a thing as too many cats?”
The answer is simple: Hell no.
As it turns out, Carly Rae Jepsen didn’t choose the cat life, and never saw herself as the kind of person that ever would.
The inspiration for the Now That I Found You video came largely from Jupiter, her own four-legged friend, who Jepsen tells me she had a “strange meet-cute” with.
“My boyfriend at the time brought him home totally without warning… I never thought of myself as the crazy cat lady. Now it’s all Crazy Cat Ladies Gone Wild,” she says.
“It’s weird, [after I adopted Jupiter] I had lunch with a friend, I thought I looked every bit the crazy cat lady. But she told me ‘Carly, you’ve been dressing the part for years.’”
Jupiter, Jepsen tells me, has friends and relatives to look after him and give him pats while she spends long stretches on the road. To that end, her return home isn’t much of a cause for celebration as far as he’s concerned.
“I have a cat who doesn’t punish me,” she says. “When I get home he sleeps on my face.” Sounds about par for the cat course, really.
Quite famously, Jepsen wrote somewhere in the vicinity of 250 songs during the lead up to recording her critically adored 2015 album Emotion, resulting in the release of the Emotion: Side B collection of offcuts that itself wound up on several end-of-year Best Of lists.
On Dedicated, that arduous writing and recording process was repeated. Jepsen amassed an arsenal of around 200 new songs under her belt before tapes began officially rolling, and by her own admission went “a little nuts” whittling the final list down to just 13. “Voting cards, asking a lot of people I trust, listening parties” all helped that arduous process, she says.
Still, that leaves more than a handful of tunes on the table. And when asked if there’s a Dedicated: Side B on the way, Jepsen quips “I hope so, otherwise what a waste of energy.”
Remarkably enough, that might not even be the only secret cache of Carly Rae Jepsen material out there in the world. When topic of conversation turns to Boy Problems, the tabletop RPG that requires players to recover a vault of unreleased material from an unidentified evil, Jepsen lets me in on a bombshell secret: “I buried an experimental album in my backyard.”
Of course, that’s prefaced by her claiming she told her friends that as “a joke,” but that’s exactly the kind of thing someone who really buried an experimental album in their backyard would say. This is now my Fenn Treasure, and I will traverse the length and breadth of Canada, shovel in hand, trying to track it down.
With the Australian trip now on the horizon – “My real excuse is I don’t have one,” she says, of why it’s taken her this long to tour here – Carly Rae Jepsen says she hopes the tour is “a party of celebrating diversity.”
Given the unique makeup of her audience, one that’s aged with her in a way few other artists have seen, Jepsen says that “I always had a dream I’d get to play to people my own age. For a while there I was scared it might be 13-year-olds forever.”
True it may be that the crowds at these shows are likely to be a little closer to gout than they are to puberty. But on those dance floors, on that night, it’ll be an energy that feels ageless.
Can’t bloody wait.