American pop-hop singer Jason Derulo has sold more than 30 million singles worldwide and 2 million in Australia, with 11 going double platinum in this country. The songwriter was in Australia as part of his Tattoos World Tour. I caught up with the 24-year-old to chat about his visit, his love of musical theatre and his relationship with singer Jordin Sparks.
What has it been like to perform in Australia?
Oh man, the crowds have been incredible. The whole vibe here is really cool and it just feels like home to me. I’ve done big festivals and stuff like that but the venues here in Australia have been far bigger than anything that I’ve done before in terms of my tour.
Do you have a pre-show ritual?
Yeah. There’s quite a bit, actually. Every day I work out. My dancers and I do a lot of bar work; we do about 30 minutes of abs. Each person chooses an ab workout and we work that out for 30 minutes. And then we do warm-up dancing. Everybody will pick a groove and we follow the grooves. Then we say a prayer before each show and then we’re all pretty pumped.
You are such a talented singer and dancer. Which one was a bigger influence growing up?
They kind of both came at the same time. I think I understood dancing before I understood singing. Because I was so young, dancing is a lot easier to comprehend, I think, at the end. But they kind of came at a pretty similar time, because I was a big Michael Jackson fan.
When you were young, did you always know you would be come a performer?
I really did. I remember telling myself at eight years old: “If I’m not famous by the time I’m 12, I’m quitting” [laughs] … 12 came along and I was like, “I’m going to give it a couple more years.” … I became a songwriter before I was an actual performer. So that taught me a lot about morphing and becoming somebody different in song writing.
If you hadn’t gone down the path of singing, what would you have done?
I think I probably would have played basketball. Either basketball or I would have been a doctor.
What is the writing process for you?
I’m a studiohead. I don’t really write on the road. I like to be in a studio and then whatever is on my mind at that particular moment, I just kind of let it rip.
What inspires you when writing?
My life inspires me. Just everyday things that are going on in my life. Sometimes I’ll quote from my past, if my past is on my mind for some particular reason … I find that when I use real life, for one, it’s a lot easier to write, and two, I think people like really connect to it more.
Do you have any songs you don’t like to perform any more?
I don’t perform What If. I think I just became over it so I stopped performing that one.
How do you cope with having your life in the limelight?
It’s cool. It’s hard sometimes because, like, you never really want to hurt anybody’s feelings and it’s always somebody’s first impression [when they meet you] … Like the other day, I was coming off of a plane and the whole plane knew that I was there so I was trying to rush to get out of there because I didn’t want to cause a ruckus. As I’m leaving the ruckus is starting to happen. I was taking pictures with people but I’m like “You have to try to walk with me and take the picture.” And then it just got too crazy. So my security and I were literally doing a swift jog at this point and this one lady is, like, “Take a picture with my daughter” And I’m like, “I’m really sorry, I really can’t.” She’s like, “She’s a child. Take a picture with my f—ing daughter!” It’s like almost a sense of ownership [over you]. I do want to cater as much as I can, but unfortunately I can’t cater to every single person.
Who do you look up to?
Definitely Michael Jackson is my biggest influence but I did grow up listening to Justin Timberlake and Usher, who are still around now and I know they probably feel old when I say that [laughs]. I told Justin that one time and he was like, “oh man, stop it, you’re making me feel old!”
Does your girlfriend, Jordin Sparks, inspire your songwriting?
Oh yeah, for sure. She’s a major part of my life, so naturally.
You both have such busy schedules. Is it hard to manage that and have a relationship?
Yeah. I mean, it’s crazy, like our schedules are really bad. So it’s pretty crazy, but thankfully we have Skype and Facetime so we make it work.
What are your plans after your Australian tour?
I’m going to LA and prepare for performing at the Billboard awards [on May 19] … [and] I have a shoe line that’s coming out pretty soon … So I’m just, like, getting the sketches and everything. I’m like a sneaker head.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Probably I would have done some movies by then. I am a musical-theatrehead.
What was your favourite musical theatre?
Ragtime is my favourite. And I love Wicked and The Lion King. But yeah, I studied musical theatre in college, actually.
So if you could play any role on Broadway, what would it be?
I would bring back Ragtime and play Coalhouse. Either that or write my own musical.
WE WENT TO QT Hotel, Sydney CBD.
WE ATE A fresh fruit platter and muffins.
WE DRANK sparking mineral water.
Photo: Lidia Nikonova