Taking cues and inspiration from nature’s soundscape, beloved singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen traveled to Lapland, Finland – with the support of House of Lapland, Finnair and Visit Finland – to record the fan favorite track “The Sound (Live in Lapland, Finland),” from her fourth and latest album, Dedicated. Filmed and recorded completely outdoors on a remote lakeside jetty in Lapland’s Ruka-Kuusamo region, the performance was stripped of the electronic elements and recorded with organic and tranquil instrumentation.
Says the Canadian Carly of her love of Lapland: “Nature is a part of my childhood and my very best memories. Here in Lapland I’ve been amazed by how the quiet space allows for ideas to float into my head. It has been unlike anything I have ever experienced.”
Lapland is perhaps best known as “the home of Santa Claus,” and for the Northern Lights – but Jepsen’s video also showcases a different side of it, including the striking “midnight sun.”
BlackBook followed her there, to chat about the album, ongoing tour, and her newfound Scandinavian love.
How did you choose the Finnish Lapland for this project?
It was my first time in Finland, and I got a call to see if I’d like to explore the Lapland. I felt like it was a magical opportunity that happened to fall into my life! Honestly, my road manager thought I was going to be too tired – but nothing was going to stop me from [doing] this. It’s been the best decision, we’re having a blast.
Weren’t you homesick?
Going home isn’t necessarily the thing you want to do. You want to have a vacation for yourself, and this reminds me very much of Canada – but slightly different, especially the trees and the people. It’s been exactly what the doctor ordered. We did a Finnish sauna in the middle of a lake, and I got to try different foods like reindeer. It’s always fun to immerse yourself in a completely different culture, which helps you grow and is healthy for your brain.
We set up on the wharf where the sun was setting and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. We were done for the day, and I can tell my group was having a fantastic time when all we wanted to do was stay on the wharf, play games and take pictures. I love finding that joy with the people I travel with, because it’s just so vital if you are going to have this type of lifestyle and have your band members be your friends and family.
You’ve talked about your early days in Vancouver, playing in small clubs and working in a coffee shop, as some of the happiest days of your life. Could you tell us more about that? And how has that journey shaped your career?
I would say that those days were the happiest, as I developed my artistry out of college and took the path less travelled. It’s where I learned how to hustle and I worked hard for it, which is something I pride myself on. I really enjoy songwriting too, and I tend to overwrite until I find something that is really right; it ends up being 200 songs that I edit down to 15, which is what happened for my latest album.
But I would say this tour has been the most joyful experience so far.
Tell us about your new album Dedicated, and what it means at this moment in your career.
I had a couple of different working titles until I landed on this one. There was actually a song that didn’t make it that was called “Dedicated,” which wrapped up a lot of what I had been writing about. I understand what that word meant to me in life, and I think if I am dedicated, it’s to this project. And it’s also to the meaning of love, holding out for that right person…
Is there a “right” person in your life right now?
Right now I am newly single. But I still have so much love for the boy.
It’s been eight years since you had your first hit. How has fame affected you?
When “Call Me Maybe” came out, it was Top 9 on iTunes in Canada and I was like, “Let’s throw a party, this is amazing.” The fact that it took off beyond that is still a gift of my life. I learned that there were many things that I thought I was going to love that I didn’t about the fame game. One of which is that I wanted the focus to be more on the artistry rather than the celebrity. I was pretty sure after “Call Me Maybe” that the best decision was to slow down a little bit and take my time, I wanted to figure out what kind of pop music was really authentic to me. I’m really glad we took our time with it.
Were there any songs that you’ve written that you expected to really take off and didn’t?
I don’t think I’ve ever had any expectations for what songs do in the world. Trying to chase the success of “Call Me Maybe” was never an intention of mine. First of all, I didn’t think it was possible; second of all, I just felt an empty happiness forgetting why I got into those coffee shops in the first place, which is using songwriting as a way to communicate and interact. As long as we keep finding the people we do connect with, that’s all that matters to me.
What other singers have inspired you?
Cyndi Lauper I find really inspiring. I’ve also had a Phoebe Bridges song on loop in my head this entire trip, and her lyrics are on a Joni Mitchell level for our era. I’ve always thought the types of careers that are attractive to me are like the James Taylors of the world, which was the first concert I’d ever been to.
How would you describe your personal style?
Playful, I don’t really have one set look I go for. I think on stage I get to be the extreme version of my theatrical side. But day to day when I’m home, it’s anything I want to wear, whatever I’m in the mood for that day. I love clothes and fashion, but I think if you don’t get to play, what’s the point?
Do you have a personal stylist?
Hayley Atkin is a stylist I’ve worked with for five years. She is like me but a tiny bit braver.
What are your next projects after the tour?
I’m just thinking day to day now, because we are literally going until March, Japan, China, Australia and then we hit Europe again. I think if we get through the tour I can have a long sleeping beauty sleep and then we will be ready to answer. Maybe I will move to New York afterwards for a couple of months. New York has always been my city for rejuvenating after a heartbreak. So I’m going to let the city romance me. Every time I’m there I feel like songs come easy to me.
Where in New York would you live?
In Soho, that’s where I landed first when I was performing in Cinderella. Jack has been trying to convince me to move to Brooklyn and I have also tried Greenwich Village. I think Soho is where my heart will take me. Some friends of mine are talking about how we can bring a pop musical to fruition. This is a ten year plan, and who knows if it will happen…but maybe New York will get me one step closer.