Justin Bieber is back. After a year and a half-long rough patch that included $80,000 in fines for egging a house and one night in a Florida jail, Bieber commenced his “comeback” at the VMAs in August with an emotional, tear-filled performance. Since then, he’s racked up the hits, profusely apologizing for his bad behavior along the way. The “Sorry” singer sat down with Billboard to talk about his religious background, his family and that October nude photo leak. Check out the highlights from the interview below and read the full profile here.
On where he is now: “Enough with the Justin Bieber Show. I want to veer away from the self-centered attitude. I’m just focused on the people who have been there since the start, on people who are taking the journey now. I want them to feel like we’re doing this together.”
On the making music that matters: “F*ck, I’m so nervous. It’s hard to make meaningful songs that make you want to dance because it can come off cheesy.”
On the difference between his old albums and new: “In the past I’ve recorded songs that I didn’t like, that I wouldn’t listen to, that the label was telling me to record. I’m self-expressing with this album—I can’t skip on the moments that were dark, the moments that were happy, the ex-girlfriend stuff. It makes it real, rather than ‘Let’s call up Max Martin to write you a hit song.’ I want my music to be inspiring.”
On getting his start on Youtube: “I was a white boy from a small town in Canada singing ‘So Sick’ by Ne-Yo.”
On his father: ”He was immature. He left for like a year when I was about 4, went to British Columbia, came back on Father’s Day. I remember my mom said, ‘If you’re going to be here, you have to be here.’ There’s a misconception that he’s this deadbeat dad, but he has been in my life since. I was with him on weekends and Wednesdays.”
On avoiding his mom: “I was distant because I was ashamed. I never wanted my mom to be disappointed in me and I knew she was. We spent some time not talking, so it takes time to rebuild that trust…She’s an amazing woman and I love her.”
On the nude photo leak and reaction from his dad: ”I do feel the photo was an invasion of my privacy. I felt super violated. My dad made light of it, but I don’t think that’s sick and twisted. It was funny. Dads are going to be dads.”
On being famous at a young age: ”I wouldn’t suggest being a child star. It’s the toughest thing in the world…Everything is so [based] on people’s looks and stuff…Look at the statistics on how many child stars have crumbled and turned out to be wack jobs. It’s f*cked, bro, this lifestyle.
On Kylie Jenner: ”Look at her world: She has been living on TV since she was a kid. Every time she’s looking around she sees a camera, and that’s affecting how she’s thinking and how she’s perceiving people and why she has to do certain things… especially in this industry. Especially for girls.”
On ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez: ”I’m proud of the woman she is today. When you love someone that much, even if something comes between you, it’s a love that never really dies.”
On being in a dark place last year: ”Certain things broke my trust with people. Situations happen that taint your mind. I started going through the motions.”
On how he felt when he was on the edge: ”Empty. Lost. Like I didn’t know myself.”
On struggling with the pressure of fame: “I felt like people were judging me all the time. I came out alive. I came out swinging. But I was close to letting [fame] completely destroy me.”