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November 20, 2018

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Q+A: Carly Rae Jepsen headlines three NYE Weekend shows at Venetian


Steve Marcus

Singer Carly Rae Jepsen performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Las Vegas.

Carly Rae Jepsen Opens for Justin Bieber at MGM Grand

Carly Rae Jepsen opens for Justin Bieber at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. Australian teen pop singer Cody Simpson joined Jepsen onstage. Launch slideshow »

Carly Rae Jepsen at MGM Grand

Singer Carly Rae Jepsen performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Carly Rae Jepsen Call Me Maybe

From coffeehouse barista to bartender, the story of pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen’s success is another Canadian dream come true. The northern country neighbor who has sold 20 million albums worldwide since her 2007 debut shares the same headlines accorded to her fellow superstars Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Michael Buble and Justin Bieber.

Here are her videos of “Call Me Maybe” and her latest, “Run Away With Me,” on YouTube.

She has just recorded the theme song for the Netflix reboot “Fuller House,” the sequel to the ABC sitcom “Full House” from the 1980s and ’90s. The brunette beauty is unperturbed by the freezing temperatures we’re experiencing this week because last New Year’s Eve, she ran into the cold ocean in a polar bear challenge. This year, she’s appearing on the Las Vegas Strip and may well take a dive into our nearby waters.

In advance of her three New Year’s Eve Weekend concerts at the Venetian (today, Thursday and Saturday), I asked the refreshingly fun 30-year-old singer-songwriter just what is it in the water over the northern border that turns out such phenomenal hit-making singers.

“I think it’s all that seltzer? I honestly don’t know, but that’s very sweet to say. That does make me laugh. I think there is a lot of great art up there. Growing up, Joni Mitchell was my icon, then later on of course Biebs ended up being a big part of my story, so I feel like I got to see the whole range that Canada has to offer in terms of art and music. I feel really happy to be a part of that community.

Is it because growing up, you have to entertain yourselves?

We don’t have a lot of options. It’s fishing, hunting or singing, so that’s what I turned to.

That was the choice? Hunting or singing?

Right now I’m in “Grease Live,” and they keep making jokes like that, too. (She’s playing Pink Lady Frenchy alongside Julianne Hough, Jessie J and Vanessa Hudgens in the planned Fox live broadcast Jan. 31 endorsed by original stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.) They’re like, “Do you have to hunt for your dinner every night in Canada?” I’m like, “I don’t think you’ve been to Vancouver. It’s not like that, but thank you!”

You’re coming to Las Vegas for three “Gimme Love Tour” shows at the Venetian, a celebration on a major holiday weekend. How do you normally celebrate New Year’s? Working or playing?

It’s different every year. Last year, I was in Canada and quite classically we were out at a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and it was just like a group party. Christmas is just being ridiculous hanging out with the family. We did one of those polar bear dives — that’s where at New Year’s you run into the freezing cold ocean, then you come out and you get into a nice hot tub sauna, and you all cheers with champagne and stuff.

It was a big party, and it was very fun. This year will be very different. There will be big lights and action in Las Vegas, the concerts. A bunch of our friends are coming down, so we’re going to make a big party of it.

When you say friends, is that people in the business or real friends?

Both. I’m really good friends with my band mates, so immediately there I have my posse wherever we go because we’re family members at this point. They’re all bringing their girlfriends, and I’m a good friend with them, as well. My sister is going to come down with her man and a couple of friends, as well, from Toronto, so that will be really rad.

Are you tempted to dive into our icy cold Lake Mead while you’re here? With the weather we’ve been having, that’s got to be just as cold as a polar bear plunge.

I mean anything is possible. I don’t think I have to travel that far actually because you’ve got those canals and fountains right on the Strip. That’ll keep it just weird enough.

What have you planned for the Venetian shows? Is this part of your touring concert?

Yeah, this is the real show. We’re bringing the ladies and everything. It’s based around the music, so we’ve got all the lights and the girls and me. Plus all five boys together in the band. We’ve got sax, drums, bass guitar, keyboards and other things. These girls are my favorite. They’re my backup singers, and we throw a big party and sing it all out together. It’s a fun “Gimmie Love” celebration of the album.

Is this your first visit to Las Vegas?

No, I can’t say that it is. I’ve been a few times for different reasons and experiences. I think the first time was a romantic, go see Cirque du Soleil with the boy I was dating, and we did dinners and watched shows. Then the second time was for a bachelorette party that I was hosting for my brother’s fiancee. We had 14 girls all dressed in sailor suits, and we did Las Vegas in a completely different way. This time around, we play the shows. Every experience in Las Vegas is different for me.

I’ve been there a few other times for the Billboard Awards and events, but it’s been an in-and-out visit, not so much a Las Vegas experience. I’ve had two real Las Vegas experiences. This is the first long weekend. That first romantic weekend was by coincidence also at the Venetian. It was quite ritzy; we had a really great time.

Click to enlarge photo

Carly Rae Jepsen.

Click to enlarge photo

Carly Rae Jepsen.

Carly Rae Jepsen Run Away With Me



How do you describe your style of singing, and has it changed since you placed third on Season Five of “Canadian Idol”?

Oh, yes, you get to know yourself as an artist I think more and more over the years as you grow and perform and try things on. The making of this album was a big discovery period for me because I was just trying to figure out all the things that I loved about pop music, and that led me to the world of the 1980s.

I think the way you sing there is much more punctuated. It’s a lot about those tight, little rhythms and at the same time the emotion of it, too. Forgive me for saying it, but I think what I love about ’80s pop is that there’s so much emotion to it. It’s scratching an itch because there’s so much longing in it. It’s not just a light thing; it’s really emotional — the grit and heart of the matter.

Have you seen Celine’s show here since she’s a fellow Canadian?

You know I wish I had. Celine Dion I think for all of us girl singers in Canada is one of those iconic voices who you listen to and you train yourself by following along to every one of her ballads. She is an absolute icon. I would love, love, love to see it. I really admire her career, too, and the decision she’s made of keeping her family and getting to still perform and do it all. It’s very, very cool.

I’ll try to do my show, then run over and see if I can catch the last two of hers for 2015. We’ll see. I think she’s 8 p.m., and I’m 10 p.m. That would be very inspiring. Um, let me think!

What’s it like being a pop singer with ’80s music traveling the world? What does that involve? Does it keep you young? Is it tiring, or do you like all the travel?

I think that what I loved about this album was that it’s much more of a mature one for me, but I do feel like travel is one of those things that you’re either going to love or hate. I luckily really thrive off being in a different city all the time. I love the adventure of it, and I tour with an incredible group of people, so we just feel like this album for us has been our favorite to perform live so far.

It really does feel like a celebration every night. It’s one of those things, you’re looking at the setlist and being like, “Oh, yes, I’ve got 12 more songs. I can’t wait for the next one.” For me, it’s just a different experience than one I’ve ever performed before. Not like I haven’t found joy from it, but this is a new kind of feeling. I can’t explain it; it’s a new rush for us.

Since the album is titled “Emotion,” are you an emotional child?

I think yeah, I think I’m probably an emotional woman, too. I think that that’s the beauty, getting to put your feelings to music, and you get to live in more of a fantasy than a reality, too, and offer the things that you might be scared to say to a guy face to face I can put in my songs and lay it all out on the line.

Where did the inspiration for “Call Me Maybe” come from?

It began as a jam session with my guitarist. A lot of the time when I’m writing, I’ll just sing out what we call “filler lyrics” where I just say words and in my mind I think, “OK, I’ll go in and fix those later,” but at least we have the rhythm and what feels good.

For “Call Me Maybe,” the entire chorus I sang out and said, “OK, well, don’t worry, I’ll fix those later.” And they looked back at me and said, “I really like it. I think it’s quirky and cute, and I think we should keep it.” So it was a pure, spur of the moment situation, then we went and worked a few weeks of chipping away at the rest of it. I just liked the idea of a girl having the confidence of a girl pick up a guy and do it as such a matter of the fact, spontaneous way.

Have you ever said that to somebody, “Call me, maybe’?

No, but I’ve had it said to me if I’m out now. “I really like you, too,” I get that said to me a lot. If I ever say “really” twice, I get looked at with a funny expression.

You’re playing NYE at 10 p.m. I’m presuming that means that you’ll count in the New Year, right?

I feel like that’s the plan. How better to do it than with a room full of people who are in the mood to party?

Do you have a New Year’s resolution yet?

I always have plenty. I think my ongoing one that I’ve never fully achieved is that this year I’m going to start yoga. That’s been my New Year’s resolution for the last two years. I’ve yet to have any success with that, so we’ll see.

Have you ever counted down the New Year before with a concert show?

Not typically. I did New Year’s in New York’s Times Square with the ball drop, but I obviously wasn’t the countdown. I was just part of the massive group doing it together.

Is this special time of the year as big in Canada as it is here in Las Vegas?

I think we always look at it as that time to catch up with our friends because Christmas is a celebration to get out and see other people. It is a nice recharge. I feel like everyone takes it seriously with all their ambitions for the New Year.

What else are you going to do in the Venetian show?

It is an ’80s-inspired album, so I feel like we embrace that as the party forever. You feel like coming dressed to match the occasion in your favorite blazer and tight lipstick, we’re down for that. Also, I would just say that we feel free to dance and get right in there. It’s one of those shows where we want you to come in and party with us.

Carly Rae Jepsen headlines at the Venetian tonight, Thursday and Saturday.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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