Carly Rae Jepsen: Billboard's Rising Star 2012
"I saw her doing some acoustic stuff and I listened to some of the songs that she wrote, and I said, 'There's a real artist here,'" Braun says. The man behind Bieber's global success soon brokered a deal with Simkin to let his Schoolboy imprint and Interscope Records sign Jepsen to a U.S. deal, while 604 would remain her label home up north and Simkin would stay her manager. Curiosity was released as a six-song EP in Canada in February, and Jepsen's focus shifted to a proper full-length.
As "Call Me Maybe" crept up the U.S. Hot 100 beginning in early March, stateside TV appearances on MTV, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" followed. Meanwhile, Jepsen was constantly writing new material and rejiggering segments of existing compositions.
"My writing process is chaos - I like being up in the middle of the night in a hotel room and coming up with an idea," Jepsen says. The artist's new U.S. label partners also helped pair Jepsen with veteran writers and producers like Toby Gad, Bonnie McKee and RedFoo of LMFAO, while longtime collaborators like "Call Me Maybe" co-writers Josh Ramsay and Tavish Crowe also scored their share of credits on Kiss.
"It was never about fitting into a stereotype with her," Interscope Geffen A&M Records vice chairman Steve Berman says of Jepsen's label debut. "It was about putting together the best collection of music and art that was authentic and true to her . . . and we went through so many collaborations. It was important to give her access to as many songs and writers as we possibly could."
When "Call Me Maybe" began its run atop the U.S. Hot 100 in June, Braun - who had notched top 10 hits with acts like Bieber, Asher Roth and the Wanted - finally was associated with a No. 1 song, a moment he calls "mind-blowing."
But instead of resting on its laurels, Jepsen's team released "Good Time" with Owl City less than two weeks later. The sunny track soundtracked the second half of the summer, peaking at No. 8 on the Hot 100 and officially keeping Jepsen out of "one-hit wonder" territory.
On Sept. 18, Jepsen released the album "Kiss," a buoyant pastiche of radio pop that was led by the shimmering single "This Kiss" (115,000 downloads, according to SoundScan). The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, and 11 days after it hit stores, Jepsen was in Glendale, Ariz., performing some of its just-released deep cuts to a packed arena on Bieber's Believe tour.
"It was like being in those old bars and cafes, where you're hoping to grab the attention of the people in the room," Jepsen says of the tour's first shows. The singer began studying video of her performances and adjusting her stage show accordingly. Now, she feels more comfortable commanding arenas, as audiences have had time to learn her new material.
"On the first night, it felt like one or two kids knew the words to 'This Kiss,' and by the second night, a few more. A month in, everyone was singing along to it, and it was a cool process to witness," she says.
Simkin describes Jepsen's stint on the Bieber tour, which will continue into 2013, as "amazing, but also limiting in some ways." The shortened set time of an opening act has kept the singer from performing more than 10 songs at a time, and Jepsen's team predicts that next year will be filled with more headlining opportunities in markets like Japan and Europe. A follow-up single to "This Kiss" hasn't yet been chosen, as the single's music video arrived in late October and the song is continuing to impact top 40 radio. Meanwhile, Simkin says endorsement offers are "coming in from all over the place," with companies hoping to latch onto Jepsen's happy-go-lucky image.
And of course, a writer as prolific as Jepsen is still staying busy: Four new songs have been written on the road, and the artist says that she's still drawing inspiration from electro-pop acts like La Roux, Robyn and Dragonette. "I could see [myself] wanting to go a little dancier with the next look," she says, "and later on, many years from now, I'd be anxious to get back and go very folk-y again."
For now, however, Jepsen is reveling in the realized dreams of stardom she's had since she was 7. "Call Me Maybe" has guided her into the limelight, and with a tenacious dedication to her craft, Jepsen's Cinderella moment won't be striking midnight anytime soon.
"She knows that this was a big year, but she doesn't want it to end," Braun says. "She wants to push herself-she wants to see how far she can take it."