Idol Week Sunday: EXCLUSIVE Behind-The-Scenes Backstage Pass – Murtz Jaffer Interviews Carly Rae Jepsen

There is no denying the fact that Carly Rae Jepsen is the Canadian Idol. I have been pulling for her since the first audition and predicted her to win immediately after she sang for the first time. As a result, I was the most excited to interview her when I went behind-the-scenes at the Idol rehearsal last week. I wanted to ask her if she thought that she would win, if she felt that Canada seems to be saying that they are ready for the first guy to win the competition since Kalan Porter and get her to say that I really am the world’s foremost reality television expert because of my amazing ability to predict what will happen. Even before the interview, I expected Carly Rae’s to be my favorite because it was the one that I was the most invested in. I knew that she would be funny and witty. Quick and easy-going. Charming and amazing. She did not disappoint. This was undoubtedly my favorite interview and I still pick Ms. Jepsen to be the 2007 Idol, regardless of whether she actually gets the votes to win or not.

Murtz Jaffer: You are one of the best stage performers on Idol this season, so let’s just get right into it…

Carly Rae Jepsen: (Laughs).

MJ: Are you always that comfortable on stage?

CRJ: I think my comfort is different every single time. It depends on how familiar I am with the song and how comfortable I am in my own skin with the clothes that I am wearing. So I mean for example, last week, “Killer Queen” was a little tough because it definitely is stepping out of my comfort zone, but I think that when you are going out loud, you just have to sort of embrace the crazy side of it and just be like ‘okay, go big or go home.’

MJ: Just pretend that each performance could be your last?

CRJ: Yeah, exactly. I am finding more and more (as the competition continues), if I have that feeling, even if I go home, I am going to be okay to go home because I have that much more confidence and I am not scared.

MJ: How far in advance do you pick the songs for every theme? Like when did you know that you were going to do “Killer Queen” for example?

CRJ: “Killer Queen” was a very last-minute decision for me. I had never heard the song before. It was very funny because I was in rehearsal and I was even like ‘is this a very popular song?’ and everyone started laughing at me and were like ‘of course it is! How can you not know it?!’ I just had never heard it before and I guess it was one of those things where the reason that it was so popular was because as soon as I heard it, I kind of changed my mind. I was like “I have to do this song.” It’s just too much fun and I could totally see having like a Sarah Slean kind of vibe with it.

MJ: And it’s totally a change from like the Natalie Imbruglia right?

CRJ: And I like the shocking extreme of it. I was like, ‘oh, I want to try this.’

MJ: What do you think is more important? Singing a song that you know, singing a song really well or singing a song that you know people will vote for?

CRJ: It’s a tightrope walk. In general, I would always say… I think there was this one quote by Tori Amos (we’re given like these inspirational quotes to read) and this one stuck out to me because it said something like “if you sing a song that kind of scares you a little bit, or that it means something to you, you’re going to be so much more invested in it,” because it’s new and it’s fresh. I find that with songs that I write that if I ever sing a song that’s like brand new, it has so much more of an effect on me and the audience than a song that I have played a million times that I might be more comfortable with, but it doesn’t scare me so how can it affect anyone else? I like picking a little bit of risks and I think this is the competition to do that in because you want to stand out. Worst-case scenario you want it to be like fun TV. So I don’t think that you can go wrong with that.

MJ: Now the judges always say to Carly Rae, ‘oh you have to be more vulnerable.’ Always with the vulnerability-type thing. I kind of have this image of you (when you’re picking songs) to like stand in front of the mirror with you face buried in your hands asking ‘does this one make me cry?’

CRJ: (Laughs). I don’t know what means! Everytime they say “vulnerable.” It’s funny actually. My friends at home are like ‘be more vulnerable Carly’ and then we all just start laughing!

MJ: Oh and then when you sang “Torn,” I was like wow. If you looked up “vulnerable” in the dictionary, it would have “Torn” as part of its definition!

CRJ: See, I never really think about that! I think “vulnerable” is one of those things that changes as soon as you try to be it. I think I am just ignoring that comment and kind of moving on with what songs I like.

MJ: This week is Pop/Rock week. Did you automatically know what song you were going to do or did you have a big selection process?

CRJ: I heard pop/rock was a theme and I thought of pop songs that I like, like Corinne Bailey Rae. On the same note of trying something different, I was going for something with a more rock edge on it. When I think of who my rock idol, it’s like hands down Melissa Etheridge. I remember like being… (I am really bad at remembering like when you are young what age you were exactly) somewhere between nine and 12…

MJ: And you were like rocking out to it?

CRJ: Yeah. And I was like the only one under the age of 25 at the concert and I was just loving it. Sporting like the leather jacket.

MJ: When you were nine years old?

CRJ: Oh yeah. The ponytail… And I knew every single word to every single song. And this song especially, I would always be humming it. And people would be looking at me like ‘how do you know Melissa Etheridge?!’ I was like it was a great song, it hasn’t been done in awhile and I don’t think it’s been redone too much. I don’t know. I felt like I wanted to take a bit of a change to it. Like at the chorus, when it’s supposed to go loud, I go soft. A couple of differences. And then there’s the part where you just get to rock out and the lyrics are perfect and that’s what made me decide. ‘I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what they say.’ I am like if I go home on this song, it’s going to be okay.’

MJ: Seriously. It would be like the best closing song ever.

CRJ: Yeah! (Laughs).

MJ: It would be like Greg with “We Are The Champions!”

CRJ: Yeah, it was kind of a perfect moment. I am really happy about it and I love Melissa Etheridge so…

MJ: Can you tell me more about the behind-the-scenes process? Like in terms of everybody comes to the show Monday. You’re performing it. You know all the words. How many times do you have to practice the song before you go out Monday and are ready to kill it?

CRJ: This was my second time that you got to see today.

MJ: Wow!

CRJ: The first time wasn’t even really a practice because it was more like I was arranging it at the time. What happens is you have like a workshop where you kind of pick your song or you show up to the workshop with your song picked and that happens like the day after (so that happens on Wednesday). So, it’s pretty much like ‘oh my gosh, I made it through!’ to ‘I am excited! But I am going to be up all night trying to figure out what I am going to do next!’ and a lot of that, you can have the choices in your head but then it can change by like what the judges comments were. Like maybe they’re like ‘oh, you really need to go for this’ and then you’re like ‘uh, oh. The song I picked is so bad for what they just said.’ I have a couple of panic attacks (laughs).

MJ: So what is it like? Just memorizing the lyrics on your own?

CRJ: I find that what I do to really get the song ingrained in my head, is I take some time alone with a walkman or a discman and then I’ll just listen to it, and I’ll just walk around and I’ll just try to get an idea of the story of what I am wanting to get from the song. “Killer Queen” I was thinking of all the women who I would picture to be the Killer Queen and I collaborated them all into one amazing woman in my head who was ideal and that’s who I dressed up.

MJ: Is it more of that listening to the song instead of sitting there and memorizing lyrics?

CRJ: Generally memorizing lyrics has been pretty easy for me. Yeah, I don’t know why. My mom always used to think it was weird. And memorizing things in general. Like biology. The night before my test, I would just…

MJ: Oh, you were one of those?!

CRJ: I would go through everything and just go check, check, check, check, check. And then like the next day, it’s gone. I have a really good short-term memory. Memorizing lyrics and songs, it sticks. Songs, I can memorize it right away but then I think the music and the story of it I get. I feel so connected to it, that it doesn’t go away. How I like to do it is that I like to listen to the version of the person but I also just like to listen to the melody without anyone singing.

MJ: Kind of like karaoke?

CRJ: Right, exactly. Kind of like karaoke-style and then think of all the possibilities of what I want to do with it.

MJ: I think that what a lot of people don’t get to see is all these great people behind-the-scenes that help you with every performance. There’s obviously Byrd who helps with the actual singing, JD who helps with the staging, and Orin who helps with the arrangement. How important are they in what we see every week?

CRJ: It’s a huge collaboration of people that like make the whole thing. Orin is amazing. It was funny actually because I have noticed a transition from the first rehearsal I have had to now in both of us. Because in the first one, I showed up and I am like a little girl and he’s like Orin. My gosh. And he’s sitting there and he’s like ‘so…’ and I am like ‘alright, so I’d really like to have the guitar player come down here on a stool. And I’d like to have it start like this and then this here and change this and change that…’ They are looking at me like… I don’t think they are used to having people who like wanted to switch it up. At first it was sort of like ‘I ended up taking like the longest in workshops and I was kind of getting the rep for being the person who wanted to have a lot of say in their things. At first, I was thinking ‘oh no, am I being too bossy?’ But I think that if I am representing to Canada the kind of musician that I want to be, I want to be one of those involved musicians who have a say in the end sound. With recordings, it’s the same thing. We have talked with lawyers and we have had meetings. My biggest concern has been ‘how involved can we be in the writing.’ They postponed the writing cap so that the winner can now have more say. And I think that being that we are all singer/songwriters, that’s particularly important to all of us. Maybe it has been for past winners, I don’t know, but for us I just know that.

MJ: And that’s just indicative of how you can play instruments this year right? Which hasn’t been done before.

CRJ: It’s just the general thing. We want to see who you are. We want to see your uniqueness. If they are asking for that, and then you go and sing a song exactly like somebody else has done, it’s really hard in that one minute and 30 seconds to really be like ‘this is my style.’ And I feel like I do (maybe not all the time and it is changing) but I do have a definite idea of where I want to go. It’s funny because now I come in and they are totally prepared for me They are like ‘okay Carly, what do you want?’ So then we sit down and we figure it out and it takes some time. Orin is really amazing at being like ‘well what about this?’ And I’ll be like ‘yeah, amazing.’ It’s more of a team effort now and I love that it’s like that. It’s wonderful.

MJ: Now Eva Avila won last year and Melissa O’Neil won the year before that. On this show, there were 3 girls eliminated very early (Mila, Khalila and Martha). Do you think that Canada seems to be leaning to a guy to wining this year or what are your thoughts on that?

CRJ: Obviously I don’t know, but I would guess that it would just be based on not gender so much as like what sort of musician or what sort of artist they are interested in. But I don’t know. I think that the people who went, I am just as confused as anybody. You never really know how they choose or who is going to go off. So I just kind of count my blessings every week that I am here.

MJ: Your reactions are the funniest!

CRJ: I just feel like it’s a little bit of a lottery at this point as much as I am sure that everyone has their reasons as to who they are voting for. I feel at the same time that I don’t really think of them as the same thing. I think of Monday and Tuesday nights as completely separate nights. Monday night is show night! Tuesday night is lottery night! You know what I mean? Maybe that’s not the best way to do it but for my own sanity… I don’t know!

MJ: Do you think that there is an extra degree of pressure on you and Tara (considering you are the only two females left in the competition)?

CRJ: I think if anything, I feel extra lucky to be one of the last two girls. Because it is something that I can say for the rest of my life. Top two girls in Canada. Me and Tara say that all the time!

MJ: You guys seem real close as well.

CRJ: We’re roommates. We’re just starting to get to the point where we have enough space now where we can have our own separate places. But it’s funny because we are always changing together and being like ‘oh, what do you think?’ It’s nice. I love having each other. Having some company there instead of being the only girl.

MJ: Yeah, like Carly’s Angels!

CRJ: (Laughs).

MJ: Do you think that looks play a factor in the voting? Because obviously all the people left are pretty good-looking people.

CRJ: Yes. And I think this goes for any artist and this is just my opinion, but I feel like it’s not like you need to be necessarily good-looking or ugly or one of those things. I think that if your look just encompasses the type of music. Like Dwight, the rocker. He plays that up. Bob Dylan, the folk singer… he had his look.

MJ: Carly… vulnerable look right? (Laughs).

CRJ: (Laughs). No! Oh dear! Let’s hope not. (Laughs).

MJ: Do you think it is more of a benefit or a detriment that so many girls have already been eliminated to you personally? Like ‘I may have liked Khalila but now that Khalila is gone but now I just want a girl to win so I will vote for Carly Rae.’ Or do you think that it doesn’t matter?

CRJ: I don’t really look at the girls or the guys as in girls or guys. It’s more like competitor, competitor. And also, competitor, competitor but also like fellow artist, fellow artist, fellow artist. I mean yes, we’re in a competition but I am just as much hoping that Greg Neufeld for example makes a career out of this, and in years to come, that I can see him later on and be like “hey, remember when we were on that Canadian Idol show together?”

MJ: That’s so weird, I am saying that if I am in the competition and I am from Toronto and I see somebody else from Toronto in the competition, I want them to go so that I can have all of the votes. Just like how you’re from B.C. and he’s from B.C. I would think you would have wanted him to go, but I guess you don’t look at it that way?

CRJ: No, not at all. And me and Greg were even talking about it. If I am out this week, I was like ‘that’s great! Because me and Greg can play shows together!’ Like, let’s go tour B.C.!

MJ: I think that’s true of Canadian Idol. I don’t think American Idol is like that.

CRJ: Oh really?

MJ: Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s more like ‘I am going to put something in his drink right before he goes out.’

CRJ: (Laughs). Don’t worry. We joked about that. But we’d never actually do it of course.

MJ: What has been your favorite performance this season?

CRJ: They were all very fun, but I really enjoyed “Sweet Ones” by Sarah Slean. You know when you were asking me before about being nervous? It was the first time that there wasn’t even a nervous bone in my body. There was before, but when I was on-stage I was like ‘who cares.’


MJ: That was the one where you walked over to all the other contestants right?

CRJ: And it was just FUN! I think I even like laughed halfway through because I was just having such a good time. I sort of forgot the stakes. So I have a good time when I can get to that moment.

MJ: Now, we’re down to the final six. And Murtz Jaffer picked you more than 7 weeks ago to win… right?

CRJ: (Laughs).

MJ: So my question to you is am I not the world’s foremost reality television expert?

CRJ: (Laughs). Dear god, I hope so!

MJ: Four more and I am right!

CRJ: I will have to do something to compensate your fortune-telling skills.

MJ: The scientific term is ‘prognostication abilities.’

CRJ: If it is true, I owe you some dinner or something. That’s all I have to say! (Laughs).

MJ: And finally, do you think you will win?

CRJ: (Long pause). I don’t know. I don’t think I will win.

MJ: Wow. And why not? I totally thought you would say ‘yeah, I will win.’

CRJ: Sorry, I know I am supposed to say that. I know we’re supposed to say that. But if I am going to be honest, I don’t think I will win but I don’t think that…

MJ: You’ll lose either right?

CRJ: Yeah, and I don’t think any of us can lose at this point. As long as you want to go somewhere with it. I would love to. I think it would be so awesome. Don’t get me wrong. I am very competitive and there’s that one part of me that’s like I have to. Because you can’t control it, you kind of have to let it go. Jake was in the backstage and he said that to me and Brian one day. ‘You know what, you do what you can do and at some point you just have to be like this part is out of my control.’ It would be awesome. I don’t who is going to win. I know that I am going to try my hardest to try and mae a career out of this.

MJ: That’s perfect. Thank you so much.

CRJ: Well, thank you.

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