Billions of streams don’t lie – Jason Derulo is one the world’s biggest pop stars right now. But after all the slick productions and catchy melodies, Derulo is ready to show the world some imperfection. “No matter how graphic or dirty it is, I just want to solely be myself,” he tells Spotify when we meet him in Stockholm.
“My first song was called ‘Crush on you’ about this girl in my class. I wanted to write her a song so I could try and win her over, but I never sang it for her. Then I started dating this girl who was a little older than me and I wrote a song called “True Love”. It’s really funny that I wrote a song about true love at eight years old haha!”
About 10 years later, Jason Derulo started his career as a songwriter for others, but it happened a little bit by chance. The dream was always to become an artist, but reaching out to producers in Miami as an unknown teenager turned out to be hard. To get their attention, Jason started to pose as a songwriter.
“I said ‘Hey, how about we write a song for Usher or something?’ and the producers became a lot more receptive when I came from that perspective. I was planning on taking those songs and putting them on my demo, but oddly the songs started to get placed with different artists.”
“Then I just kind of ran with it so I could eventually get noticed. Sometimes you gotta lie to get yourself where you need to go.”
Today, Jason Derulo doesn’t have to lie to convince anyone. His reputation as a hard-working hit machine has generated collaborations with icons such as Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban and pretty much every song he releases conquers the charts.
“I am a very hard worker, but it’s because I love what I do so much. If you put me in a studio, you might not get me out. Sometimes they have to drag me out and be like ‘Come on Jay, you got shit to do in the morning’. It’s not difficult for me to work hard, because I really do love it and I don’t know life without it.”
What is your current passion project?
– I’m making a mixtape that’s very different from what people are used to me doing. Usually when I make music I strive for everything to be perfect, every note to be hit, if something is too loud I turn it down, I try stuff many times… With this project it’s the exact opposite. If I’ve been smoking some weed or drinking, I’ll still go in and do my thing. I’m not necessarily striving to sound good, I’m striving to sound as real as possible. It’s one take and whatever is on my mind at that particular moment will be on the wax. No matter how graphic or how dirty it is, I just want to solely be myself. The other side of me.
How come you’re in the mood for that imperfection?
– I guess I have this other side of me that people have never seen before and it was itching to come out. I started out writing songs for hip hop artists and still nobody knows that side of me at all. It was a creative itch that I had to scratch.
What are your favorite elements of hip hop?
– I love the “I don’t give a fuck”-attitude. That’s kind of where I am in my life. I love how real it is, nobody’s is judging you for wanting to have a good time or say what you want to say. And it’s poetry, it’s pretty genius.
What are your favorite elements about pop?
– The mass appeal and melody. Pop music makes you feel something without you having to dive too much to think about what the person is talking about. It’s right there in front of you like a plate of food, you don’t have to open up a box and try to figure it out. I’m feeling sad today, let me turn on this song because it’s talking about exactly what I’m feeling. I don’t have to try to read through “oh my god, the palm trees are bleediiiing…”. People don’t speak like that. Pop music is very direct and talks in a voice that we understand.
Besides working like crazy in the studio, we’ve understood that you work out like crazy too.
– Yeah, I just realized that it is a hobby. My manager asked me “What the fuck are your hobbies?! What do you do besides work?” and I was like, “Well, I like watching movies” and he said, “That’s not a hobby! What do you like to DO?”. I think working out is a hobby of mine, because I’m so interested in all aspects of it. With learning new workouts, nutritions… I’m doing so much of it and I love to do it. Right now, I’m working out twice a day.
How do you make that work with a touring life?
– I just kind of said, “Fuck everything else, we have to make time for this”. My sleep schedule is really off, if I’m not able to sleep, then I have to use that time to work out. If I’m jetlagged I’ll go to the gym and hopefully when I get back I’m tired, but that only leaves me two hours to sleep sometimes. Hopefully there will be a lunch break the day after when I can take a nap, but then I won’t be tired in the night. So my sleep schedule gets a little bit strange, but it’s working out. No pun intended.
Listen to Jason Derulo’s latest album “Everything Is 4”: