Pop Culture Icons Carly Rae Jepsen and Hello Kitty Take Dopamine Dressing to a Whole New Meaning

Photo courtesy of Amazon Kids+
Photo by Meredith Jenks
Photo courtesy of Amazon Kids+
Photo by Meredith Jenks

Grammy-winning global pop star Carly Rae Jepsen has been keeping herself busy lately. She released her latest album, "The Loneliest Time," in October and has been preparing for her international tour in February in Dublin, Ireland. And right before Jepsen took off for the holidays, she just casually, no big deal, sang the new theme song for Amazon Kids+'s new series, "Hello Kitty: Super Style!". So you could say, she needs a little TLC.

Jepsen was vacationing in Japan with her boyfriend when she was presented the opportunity to work with the country's favorite cartoon character. "I was debating, 'OK, what projects am I taking on this year?'" Jepsen tells POPSUGAR in an exclusive interview. "And I really wanted to do it, and my team didn't know if I was going to have time because I was just about to hit the road for our tour." But then, she received a sign while waiting for a train to the next leg of the journey. "Right when we went to go get snacks for the bullet train, there was a pair of Hello Kitty socks. I came back holding them, and I looked at [my boyfriend], and I was like, 'They're so iconic, I have to do it.'" From there, Jepsen flew back to LA where she says, "I'm not kidding you: I believe I had one day to knock out the song before I hit the road," she continued. "I don't think I even slept that night packing to get on the flight to rehearsals in time. But it was so worth it."

During the holidays, Jepsen had a chance to take a break from her busy schedule as a pop culture icon. "It's been nice, I'm not gonna lie, to have a good couple of weeks off around Christmas," she says. With her family visiting, Jepsen hung out with her brother, sister, mom and stepdad — and of course, her beloved niece and nephew.

Besides spending the whole time in pajamas and watching every Christmas movie ever made, she also squeezed in one of their most treasured traditions. "One of the traditions absolutely no matter where we are is we make my mother's homemade butter tarts and peanut butterballs," Jepsen says. Thankfully she and her family were on the same page about the holiday vibes: "We were all looking for relaxation and comfort, so lots of fireplace hangs and lots of little board games, and nothing too crazy beyond that."

Now, she's looking ahead to the new year. In chatting with POPSUGAR, Jepsen shares her most challenging resolution yet, her philosophy on what makes a good friendship, and how she's finding balance between touring while saying yes to new opportunities.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

POPSUGAR: Hello Kitty is a global pop culture icon, like you! Were you a major Hello Kitty fan growing up?

Carly Rae Jepsen: I have been a fan! In hindsight, it's just so fun to be a part of. I'm a new auntie as of this year, so I'm really excited for my niece and nephew to grow up and be able to be watching this show, and I can be like, "Look, your auntie trying to be cool over here." My sister keeps telling me to calm down and stop trying to speed up their growth. My sister's baby is actually named Ivy Rae, so she's my little namesake, Rae and Rae. But she is just, oh, 6 months now. And my brother's baby, my nephew, is 8 months. They're not too far apart. Sorry, you got me in aunt mode.

PS: Well, I know it's far in the future, but with the show being all about friendships, what is the best advice that you've gotten on friendship that you'd want to pass onto them in the future?

CRJ: I really think that the best thing that I can say about friendship is probably some advice my aunt has given me throughout the years, which is the richness of having friends that are very different to you. I think when we're younger, we always gravitate to people who have the same interests, who might dress the same, or if you play soccer, I play soccer, let's be friends. But I really think that she's right — that a lot more learning happens in friendships where you are all different. And as an adult I found that the people who are the most opposite to me are the most fascinating. I get to enjoy the coolest kind of friendships because we get to visit each other's worlds and teach each other new things.

PS: In the show, Hello Kitty's sense of style seems to act as a super power. Are you a "dopamine-dresser"? What do you like to wear to boost your mood?

CRJ: I'm very chill about it. I like a full-on cape, please. No, I'm joking, but I'm actually fully telling the truth. I remember we played a Pride festival here in Los Angeles. And there was a lot going on. I was nervous and excited. I remember deciding last minute to wear this very long, flowing cape. It was the best decision ever. I walked out feeling like a different person than myself. And in a way, I ended up becoming that person that I wanted to be on stage, and it felt really full of love and very powerful. It was a moving day for me that I'll never forget. But I do laugh because there's a lot of clothes I've gotten rid of in my life, but I will never get rid of that cape now.

PS: Speaking of being on stage, what are you looking forward to in the new year in terms of your music?

CRJ: Well, a few things. We're obviously gearing up to head over to Ireland and the UK for some dates. And then eventually we make our way to Australia and the Philippines, which I'm very much looking forward to. It's a really full packed year. I do love when my schedule starts to look like a lot of travel. I've always thrived when I get to see different parts of the world, meet new people, and learn about new things. That's to me what life's about. So I'm really looking forward to it.

PS: You mentioned earlier you're not particularly a signs person, but are you a New Year's resolutions person?

CRJ: I come up with resolutions not necessarily on New Year's, just like throughout the year. Usually I use New Year's for taking stock of what progress was made that year. I'm also more of a vision boarder, where I just collage things of what I see for myself. And this year as much as I have career goals, it's really fun that I've added relaxation to my imaginary vision board to balance me out. The concept of setting aside time to relax is new to me.

PS: Incorporating relaxation sounds nice but I'm sure it can also feel daunting to fit in. In this ideal vision board world, what does balance look like for you?

CRJ: To me, I think what's really nice is being able to ask for what you need. For me, it's about knowing when I can work a lot and when I need to be human and take breaks within that. And it's such an exciting career in terms of how constantly lucky you feel to be in a place where you get to make music for a living. I think by nature I turn into like a "yes girl" and just say yes to everything all of the time. I've learned to be more selective about what I say yes to and making sure that it's still humane to myself.

Even with this decision to take on Hello Kitty, it was going to be sneaking it in, but I knew I wanted to do it. So sometimes if I'm really excited, my excitement will trump my schedule. I'll just say yes and do it and it'll be so worth it. So there are times when you push beyond the limits, but I think in general I'm learning more and more when to say no too, and calm down and take time to relax. Even my guitarist, who is one of my dearest friends and collaborators will sometimes have to stop me because on off days I'll want to write a song with him on Zoom. And he'll be like, "Carly, you need breaks too. Go for a walk, girl."

I think I've got people around me who know that rest is important. And I know that it's important for my sanity and longevity. So that's a new fun thing to tackle: adding some peaceful time into the mix of all the madness.