Justin Bieber stepped onto the R&B scene with one of the industry’s biggest co-signs. Singer/songwriter/producer Usher signed Justin to a deal with Island Records after the 15 year old phenom blew the veteran away with a rendition of ‘U Got It Bad.’
With a story similar to some of music’s biggest, albeit youngest names, Bieber’s claim to fame comes largely by way of YouTube. Giving further padding to the argument of the internet as a method of operation in success, Justin’s Chris ‘Tricky’ Stewart produced single ‘One Time’ is already in heavy radio rotation.
Justin talks with broken cool about the pressures of new fame, growing up listening to Stevie Wonder, and how he managed to catch the eye of two of R&B’s biggest stars.
Justin on his debut album "My World":
"It’s just a world of just having fun. It’s a good world. I talk a lot about girls and having fun. It’s a journey that’s R&B pop. It’s my world and a journey through my eyes while I’m telling my story."
Maxine Ross: Justin tell me about how you got started?
Justin Bieber: I started on the internet actually. I was in a singing competition when I was 12 and my family and friends really wanted to see me so my mom taped it and put it on YouTube and I was found by my manager Scooter Braun (Asher Roth's Manager) and he connected me to Usher. Actually Justin Timberlake and Usher both wanted to sign me so it really put me out there.
MR: Justin and Usher wanted to sign you? It must have been a tough choice.
JB:Yes definitely. They are both great artists.
MR: What made the decision?
JB: It’s great because the situation with Island/Def jam was just amazing with Usher and L.A. Reid backing me up. So I made the decision based on that and the best place I should go. It was the right decision.
MR: Did you come up singing the R&B genre?
JB: Yeah, kind of R&B pop.
MR: Who did you listen to that has influenced you up until now?
JB: Usher, as well as Michael Jackson, who just passed, Stevie Wonder, Prince. I love all of those artists and they really inspired me to do music and sing. Performing too. I want to be a great performer to give life to the music I make.
MR: Where are you from?
JB: I’m originally from Ontario (Canada) but I live in Atlanta right now. It’s fun living in Atlanta, I get to record and do and learn so much.
MR: What are your aims with singing and performing?
JB: Basically just to give the fans what they want. I have 2 million people that have uploaded and watched my videos on YouTube. I just want to be there and be an influence and give them what I’ve got in my music.
MR: Do you write?
JB: Yes. I do write some. I will absolutely be writing on the new album for sure.
MR: What’s the title?
JB: It’s called "My World." It’s coming out late September early October.
MR: What is your world like?
It’s just a world of just having fun. It’s a good world. I talk a lot about girls and having fun. It’s a journey that’s R&B pop. It’s my world and a journey through my eyes while I’m telling my story.
MR: It sounds like you are ready to explode onto the scene.
JB: It’s crazy. I wouldn’t expect this to happen.
MR: What are you doing now on the regular?
JB: Recording and traveling all over America doing promo. I just didn’t really expect this to happen at all. I didn’t think it would happen so fast like this. The biggest thing is that there are girls following me around everywhere. It gets a little crazy but I love it and I’m so excited to be here and doing this. I’ve done six interviews today and it’s sort of the same thing over and over but I still love it.
MR: You’re 15 or 16?
JB: I’m 15.
MR: I would think it’d be hard to stay grounded with so much success. How do you do it?
JB: I have great people surrounding me. I’ve always been a humble kid. My parents and my manager keep me grounded for sure.
MR: Who have you been able to work with on this first project?
JB: I’ve worked with Tricky and The Dream, Bryan Michael Cox, Midi Mafia, and other producers.
MR: Those are excellent producers. And The Dream, as well, with his body of music work. Do you get star struck at all when working with such heavy names?
JB:I don’t really get star struck. It’s because they’re so regular. I don’t get star struck. I always feel honored when I’m in their presence but they are still just people to me.
MR: How long have you been singing?
JB:I’ve been singing for my whole life. I didn’t take it seriously until I was about 12.
MR: So you’ve been going hard for about 3 years. What song did you sing for Usher?
JB:‘U Got It Bad.’
MR: And it obviously went well.
JB: He signed me so it went well.
MR: Did you get nervous because it’s his song?
JB: I don’t really get nervous. I was just honored to sing for him and it’s a great experience. I wouldn’t change it. It was awesome. There isn’t anything I could think about changing with it. I’m happy with the outcome.
MR: Are you sticking with the up-tempo songs or ballads?
JB: A little of both. There’s going to be a lot of things on the album from production to writing to ballads and up-tempo that will make it all just work. You just gotta check it out.
MR: How are you staying connected to the fans and people who want to find out about you?