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Carly Rae Jepsen Thinks Leonard Cohen Is a God, Loves Robyn’s Leggings

Carly Rae Jepsen / Photo by Vanessa Heins

It’s not a slight to Carly Rae Jepsen to say that she seems younger than she is. The 26-year-old “Call Me Maybe” phenom has thus far released songs that evoke the myriad ecstasies and dilemmas of youth, as well as blow the minds of Insane Clown Posse. Ever since Justin Bieber put a spotlight on her aforementioned year’s-biggest-single (apologies to recent SPIN interviewee Gotye), Jepsen has been living out something of a teenage dream, despite hedging toward 30. The British Columbia-born singer’s 2012 EP and second overall release, Curiosity, spawned “Call Me Maybe” and has merely whet appetites for her full-length debut, Kiss, which arrives via Bieber’s School Boy imprint on September 18.

The former Canadian Idol competitor’s personal taste has been shaped in large part by Laurel Canyon folk and contemporary Euro-dance. While enjoying some guacamole at a Los Angeles eatery, Jepsen reminisced with us about the artists that mean the most to her.

“There’s a lot to admire about Robyn. Looking at the longevity and evolution of her career, it’s been neat to see her reinvent herself. Not in a way that’s totally different than how she started out, but to have a major comeback in such a defined way. And then if you look at her artistically, I fell in love with the ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ video. I loved everything from the fuzzy sweater to the leggings to just how emotionally connected she was to her lyrics and her movements. That’s what got me to buy Body Talk, and I listen to it when I’m getting my makeup ready in the mornings, I listen to it in the car — it’s just my soundtrack to my life lately. I really, really dig her.”

“Oh man, I had a little bit of a love affair when I first discovered her. The first song I heard was ‘Settle Down,’ and lyrically, I was impressed by her making a universal subject so simple. It wasn’t too metaphorical or anything like that, but she really got her point across in a cool way. Then I saw her video, and I liked how theatrical it was. It had aspects of jazz meets pop meets a little Gaga-esque moments I felt. On top of that, she spun some musical-theater components into what she was doing visually, so I really was impressed. One of my favorites of hers too is ‘Cameo Lover.’ The video for that is also beyond brilliant. That one is my favorite, I think, of all of her tracks.”

James Taylor:
“My family just had a taste for anything that was more singer-songwriter and a tiny bit of rock. But I think James was the main guy that I grew up listening to. I think the way I form my lyrics is really constructed around the storytelling aspects that James offered in all of his songs. It’s kind of hilarious, because my father used to play me all of his songs before bed at night. It was sort of my bedtime stories. I grew up thinking James Taylor looked like my father. Whenever I heard his songs, I’d always picture my father’s face. I remember going to my first James Taylor concert and being really thrown by the fact that he looked so different than I imagined all these years.”

Van Morrison:
“He was really the soundtrack of our lives actually. ‘Moondance’ was the family jam-out at parties and living rooms. But there are a lot of songs that are I love. I remember my cousin getting married to ‘Into the Mystic,’ walking down the aisle to that. I remember my mom playing me ‘In the Garden’ when it was New Year’s Eve, late at night, over the loud stereo and us all cheers-ing with champagne. I think there’s a lot in his repertoire that I grew up just loving and cherishing.”

La Roux:
“My introduction to La Roux was ‘Bulletproof,’ and that’s all I knew before I went to go see her live at the Biltmore in Vancouver, where I’m from. I remember just being impressed by her live show, and then I got into the rest of her repertoire, and obviously [she has] a retro vibe going on. At the end of the day, she kind of reminds me of Sinéad O’Connor. It’s where her voice sits, and even the way she tells her stories. They’re very pining and heartfelt, and I love that.”

Sinéad O’Connor:
“She makes my top five female vocalists of all time. I grew up with her cassette tape. I would listen to it all the time and try and mimic every little inflection she had in her voice. Obviously it was a Prince tune, but ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ is one of the greatest songs of all time. When you see that video, you catch it in the eyes that she’s really feeling it as she does it. It’s not just acting.”

“I actually did a little mini, not-on-purpose kinda tour with her. We ended up doing all these little festivals and landed in the same place. I think it was show two or three where we finally were like, ‘Hey, this is like the third venue we’ve played and haven’t said hello yet.’ And I got to meet everyone in the band, and we both dug what the other person was doing. It was a collaboration, but ‘Hello’ was one of my favorite songs of the year when it first came out. I just think she’s got a rad style, rad vibe. The whole band is really impressive live to watch as well.”

Leonard Cohen:
“If you put me in a room to collaborate with him, I would go numb, because it’s like working with a god, in my mind. Lyrically, he’s beyond profound. ‘Famous Blue Raincoat,’ to me, is probably in my top three favorite songs of all time. There’s been a million covers, but nothing compares to his version of it, just the way he delivers every line. It’s like you feel like you know him by the end of it, and I love that song.”