TORONTO – Carly Rae Jepsen has a major crush on Japan. Proof of this came last summer when she released her latest album, “Emotion” (rendered “E• MO• TION”), in this country a whole two months before anywhere else in the world. That kind of exclusive isn’t common for an album as anticipated as “Emotion” was, but she feels it was an important gift from her to the country she considers her home away from home.
“I have a great love and respect for my Japanese fans,” Jepsen tells The Japan Times during a rare break on her Gimmie Love Tour across the United States. “Other than Canada, (Japan was) one of the first countries to really embrace me as an artist. When I released (2008’s) “Tug Of War,” it was released exclusively in Canada, and then to my surprise and delight, also in Japan. So there have been about 11 different visits to Japan since my introduction way back when I was 23 or 24. And it felt very fitting with the making of “Emotion” to pay credit to them and give thanks by letting them have the album first.”
Jepsen definitely turned heads worldwide last year with “Emotion,” but her 1980s-inspired dance pop arguably resonates better in Japan than anywhere else in the world. Sales for both “Emotion” and her previous album, 2012’s “Kiss,” have been strongest in Japan, which may have something to do with the decision to follow them up with remix albums. Much like she did for “Kiss” in 2013 with “Kiss: The Remix,” Jepsen has just released a new Japan-only remix album, suitably titled, “Emotion Remixed +.” The collection features eight remixes by Bleachers, Skylar Spence, the Knocks and Blasterjaxx, to name a few. The album is a gift to her fans, but for Jepsen the chance to present her music in another context was an opportunity she couldn’t refuse.
“Like collaborations, (remixes are) two different minds coming together to create something that one of you could have made on your own,” she says. “I think that’s the best thing about music, that sharing can lead to all sorts of amazing discoveries. All of the remixes on this album were by people who were either fans of the music or had a new vision of the song and wanted their turn with it. It was really fun to hear some of the new discoveries.”
“Emotion Remixed +” actually begins with two brand new, unreleased (and un-remixed) tracks that Jepsen originally wanted on “Emotion”: “First Time” and “Fever.” Including them on this compilation was a way of ensuring they would get the audience they deserve.
“These two particular songs were in the running to make the original album, but we kind of ran out of time,” she admits. “They’re still just as important to me as the songs on ‘Emotion,’ so it was a great opportunity to put out this remix album and add something new and two of my favorite songs from this cycle. These songs are very much in line with the ’80s theme, they fit in with everything else. They’ve been in my back pocket for a while, so I (was) finally ready to showcase them.”
And those two songs may not be the only new ones we hear from Jepsen this year. Her touring schedule is currently set to take her into the summer, but she says new music is regularly on her mind, although there is no estimated time for her next album’s arrival.
“I can assure you that I’m constantly writing and coming up with new ideas and talking about visions with my bandmates,” Jepsen says. “And slowly but surely I’m sure it will take form. Whether it comes in the next few months or the next year, I can’t predict. But I would love for it to come soon because I do feel like right now is a very inspiring time, especially with this tour where I get to meet people face to face it makes me hungry to launch into more.”
Demand for a follow-up to “Emotion” is sky high at the moment, after the album received such overwhelming support from fans and critics, who were both tremendously vocal over how the album should have catapulted Jepsen into pop’s upper echelon next to superstars such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Rihanna. And Jepsen has heard the commotion, but like a true Canadian, she is humble about the support.
“I’ve gotten wind of a few people saying, ‘”Emotion” didn’t get what it deserved’ or ‘It should have done more!’ But in my mind I can’t share that because I’m so overjoyed at the reception is has gotten,” she says. “The dream for me has always been to play for people that appreciate what I’m doing and connect with it musically. Right now I’m getting a chance to tour the world, starting with the U.S., and then Japan and Canada after that, and I can’t pretend to want more.”
Her tour will stop in Japan for four dates, two of which are part of the Popspring festival, along with Pentatonix, Foxes and Austin Mahone. For Jepsen, the performances are what brings her to the country, but she’s just as excited to take everything in during her visit.
“I find the culture very fascinating and the people to be extremely friendly and generous with their attention and love,” she says. “Even just getting to try new foods and witness new things and explore the fashion. I find it right up my alley. In a weird way, I feel like if I could have chosen a place to be born, Japan would be at the top of my list because I do feel very at home there in a different way than Canada. Of course, Canada is where my heart is, but Japan is very much in line with it.”
Jepsen says that one of the best things about coming to Japan is getting to interact with her fans, who are unlike those in any other country she has been to.
“Everywhere you go, you discover people who are really into what you do. It’s part of the fun in doing tours all over the world,” she explains. “I think in Japan I’ve been overwhelmed by the attention to detail and, above and beyond, the shows of kindness I’ve received from the fans there. We’ll arrive at the airport and there will be a group to meet us with handmade cards and letters or beautiful paintings. Last time I went, I was given this flower blossom that was in this casing, and chopsticks with my name engraved (on them) — just so many things that must have taken so much time. That really touches you and makes you feel spoiled to get that kind of attention. It’s always an absolute treat to come to Japan.”
One thing that isn’t on her agenda while she’s here is trying to put her own stamp on J-pop. Though the singer says she’s familiar with some artists in the genre and often takes CDs back home with her, she hasn’t made an appointment with any producers. But should someone like Yasutaka Nakata or Dorian Concept come knocking, she’s open to the idea. “I think my main passion is more pop in the ’80s vein, but the idea of collaborating with somebody is always exciting,” she says with interest. “So I wouldn’t say no to a session.”
“E• MO• TION Remixed +” is in stores now. Carly Rae Jepsen plays Zepp Sapporo on March 31 and Zepp Fukuoka on April 4 (7 p.m. start; ¥8,000/¥9,000). She plays Popspring 2016 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba on April 2 and at Kobe World Kinen Hall in Kobe on April 3 (12 p.m. start; ¥11,000). For more information, visit www.popspring.jp or www.carlyraemusic.com.
Jepsen hits nostalgia overload with theme tune to ‘Fuller House’
On top of her new remix album and tour, Carly Rae Jepsen is also the voice behind “Fuller House,” the brand new Netflix update of the beloved late-1980s sitcom “Full House” — which was also a favorite in Japan. For Jepsen, singing a new version of the classic theme song “Everywhere You Look” was not only a no-brainer, but an honor.
“Full House was my absolute favorite as a kid,” she says. “I grew up with that show, so when I got the call asking if I would sing ‘Everywhere You Look,’ I jumped on the opportunity because it was nostalgia city for me.”
Recording the theme might not be the end of Jepsen’s involvement with the show. Who knows? She may even make a future guest appearance if everything works out for her.
“I met the creator of the show and he asked me if I’d be interested in being a part of season two, if they have one, and it turns out they are,” she says. “So, I don’t know if it will work out scheduling wise but it’s definitely something we’re talking about. It would be a total thrill to be a part of it.” (Cam Lindsay)