Pride and Joy for Carly Rae Jepsen: Few things are certain in life, besides death and taxes. But we can pretty much guarantee that pop artists, and strong female artists at that, will receive a massively enthusiastic reception when they perform at any Pride event.
On June 9 and June 10, LA Pride in the Park will be headlined by Mariah Carey and Megan Thee Stallion. Before that though, on June 3 and June 4, OUTLOUD @ WeHo Pride will see ‘80s icon Grace Jones and contemporary pop star Carly Rae Jepsen tread the boards. Again, that’s just the headliners. There’s a ton of awesome music before those four mega stars. But LA can take, ahem, pride in the magnificent talent that it has assembled for this vital cause.
It’s been about six months since Jepsen released her latest album, The Loneliest Time, a sweetly heartfelt body of work that saw her explore some lockdown-induced feelings.
“It’s been such a wild ride since then,” Jepsen says. “I don’t feel like I’ve really stopped. But it’s been a good pace of things. This has been, I’m gone for a month, I’m home for a week, I’m gone for two weeks, I’m home for a week. So it’s been a nice pace of getting to go and do the thing I love, and also have a life in between. It’s great.”
The title of the album, Jepsen’s sixth, should be a clue, but the album was conceived and generally executed during lockdown.
“It took a while to write because I historically overwrite, and I was no different with this project,” she says. “But I ended up writing a lot of it on Zoom, because that was the only option. Once the world started to open up again, I would travel to workshop some of the songs in person after. But a lot of the main writing was done in my pajamas in front of my computer in my house.”
Despite the obvious and overt themes, the record isn’t a depressing listen. Rather, it’s full of hope and no small amount of joy.
“I was nervous to call it The Loneliest Time for a lot of reasons,” Jepsen says. “It sounds a little bit like a bummer, but I don’t mean it as a bummer. I mean it as this beautiful time where we could also reflect and check in on ourselves. I think for a lot of it I was thinking, where did I land? What’s going on? I think from the loneliness came a lot of exciting moments, too, and a lot of longing. A lot of silliness. I wanted it to be not just introspective and sad, but also have some joyful moments, too. I think I felt all of that, alone in the bubble of my little house.”
It’s an album that sees the Canadian artist bounce between decades and genres, whereas on previous efforts she’s been a little more direct with her targets.
“It was important to me that there felt like cohesiveness in the theme of loneliness, moreso like ‘I’m gonna do strictly ‘80s,’ I kinda felt like I had done that with Emotion, and I think with Dedicated I started to feel like I’d spread my wings a little bit,” she says. “What if I played a little into the disco, or what if it doesn’t even have a genre, it’s just music that I love? I think with pop I’m always trying to expand the definition of what that is for me personally. I think that’s my take on it. How far can you stretch pop? Can it get a bit more indie? A little bit more disco? I think that’s always the joy of it for me – not doing the same thing twice.”
It must be satisfying to create a piece of work in isolation and then be able to perform it in front of large crowds later. And have it be so well received.
“It’s so funny, because you think I’ve done this so many times that by the time I went out on the road, I would understand that these songs I wrote I then had to perform live,” she says. “But I felt like there was so much uncertainty that there was a little bit of, ‘Oh wow, OK, I wonder how these will translate to a live audience?’ But it was really interesting, the timing of how we decided to deliver this album. Three-quarters of the way through an American tour, we were creating some hype and getting it ready. I got to, in real time, experience watching the audiences learn our new material and that was the wildest thing I’ve ever been part of. It was so crazy to come out and perform ‘Surrender My Heart’ and have the crowd take over and embrace it the way that they do the rest of our songs.”
We spoke to Jepsen just prior to her WeHo Pride performance, and she’s clearly excited.
“It’s gonna be a wild time,” she says. “I mean, I don’t get to play L.A. a lot, which is crazy. I’m a Canadian girl who got picked up by the L.A. buzz and was introduced to a world beyond Canada. I think I just remember every couple of weekends calling my parents like, ‘Can you send more clothes?’ Ten years later, I’m like, ‘I think this is where I live now.’”
This isn’t Jepsen’s first Pride event, and she says that the shows are always joyful.
“There’s nothing better,” she says. “It’s one of those things where you’re like, I can’t believe this is my job. I would pay to be here. That’s how I feel about Pride. Pride feels extra important this year. It’s important every day, it’s not just a monthlong thing. Consistently, we should be fighting, and I’m definitely an ally. I feel like it’s an extra cause to get out there, show support, and be there to see the power in numbers and remember what we can do.”
As for her set, Jepsen plans to pull out everything that she’s allowed to, in order to make the show massive and memorable.
“Around this time, you’ve caught me where I’m like ‘How much confetti is too much confetti?’,” she says. “We’re trying to figure out what is safe for an outdoor show. We’ll be there to bring out all the bells and whistles that we can. Usually, the bandmates and I try to make a power set for a celebration like that. Go through all the albums, and really spend some time with the new stuff too. It’ll be a nice mix of it all.”
After Pride, Jepsen will continue touring this album, safe in the knowledge that she really doesn’t have to be lonely anymore.
Pride and Joy for Carly Rae Jepsen: For more info, go to wehopride.com.
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