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Jason Derulo recently spoke to Insider about TikTok, his newfound independence, and how he stays inspired after so many years in the industry.
With his newest hit, "Savage Love (Laxed - Siren Beat)," Derulo has officially earned a top 10 song in three consecutive decades, dating back to "Whatcha Say" in 2009.
"I feel younger than ever. I feel more inspired than ever," he said. "I don't see any slowing in the near future. I always feel like a new birth has happened every time I release new music, I feel like a different person."
The pop star is headlining a virtual festival on Friday, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, to celebrate International Beer Day.
"It's very high-energy," Derulo said of his performance plans. "I don't think that a lot of people are doing performances of this magnitude. A lot of the virtual shows that I've seen have been pretty boring."
Jason Derulo feels kind of bad about it, but he's actually doing just fine.
Despite the ambient anxiety of 2020 and the pandemic's devastating effects on the music industry, Derulo says he's been feeling exceptionally inspired in quarantine, even exhilarated — and who could blame him?
With more than 30 million followers on TikTok, another top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and newfound freedom from his 12-year recording contract, Derulo's career has never seemed quite so fun.
"It feels kind of weird saying it, given everything that's going on, but I feel younger than ever. I feel more inspired than ever. I don't see any slowing in the near future," he recently told Insider. "I always feel like a new birth has happened every time I release new music, I feel like a different person. I'm reinspired."
We caught up with the "Take You Dancing" singer on Zoom, and he went into detail about his social media use, new music on the horizon, and what he's learned after more than a decade in the industry.
You're headlining Anheuser-Busch's virtual festival and Bud Light Seltzer Sessions on Friday to celebrate International Beer Day. What made that an inviting opportunity for you?
Of course, in these crazy times, I'm missing performing. I'm missing that fans-to-artist interaction. So this is the closest thing to that, obviously.
And I know everybody's at home right now, so this feels like a perfect partnership to come together and do something really nice for the fans.
Can you tease anything about your performance? What songs might you sing?
Oh, so it's pretty full-on. It's about a 40-minute set, so you've got all of the old hits, all the new ones, and everything in between.
It's very high-energy. I don't think that a lot of people are doing performances of this magnitude. A lot of the virtual shows that I've seen have been pretty boring, for lack of a better term. So yeah, me and my guys, we wanted to come together and do something really special.
—Jason Derulo (@jasonderulo) August 6, 2020
What's the biggest challenge when it comes to channeling the energy of a live show into a virtual one?
I think the biggest difference is not having someone to bounce off of. You're bouncing off yourself. You're like, "Put your hands up. Wait, wait a minute, hold on — that's different." All of those things that are like, the ping-pong effect that you have on stage, that always tends to be really fun, but you don't have that energy.
And also, the gratification after a performance. You have that positive energy of someone telling you that they liked some part of the show. Whereas, here, you've got to find it yourself. It's self-motivating.
Has doing these virtual performances made you excited for going on tour again in the future?
I am excited, but I'm trying to keep that excitement to a minimum because I don't know when that's going to be possible. I know my agent is trying to set up our tour and everything for 2021 — but I don't even know if that's going to even be possible in 2021.
They talked about it being my biggest tour yet. And I was pretty excited about that. But I'm really concerned about the present, and just trying to live in the present, because I don't know when that's going to happen.
That makes sense. Is there any new music you're working on during quarantine that you're particularly excited about?
Oh, absolutely. A ton. Actually, this time is really special, because I was signed to a record label, Warner Bros., for 12 years and I'm a free agent right now. I've been putting out songs on my own.
And we're obviously going to partner up with the right family [at a new label], when we find that family, so I'm preparing for that. A huge launch — top of the year, new record label, new songs, going for gold as usual.
Has being an unsigned artist changed the way you approach making music, or is your process the same?
It's the same. I lead with creativity. So for me, it's never about trying to get the No. 1 song or trying to be at the top of the charts. It really stems from me being a lover and a fan of music. And I've always led with that. I've always lived with that — and the fact that I want to be different. So every single song that I do is, is not based on necessarily the songs that you hear on the radio.
I always try to bring something fresh to the table. And I think that's the only way to stay within the music industry for so long. You've got to continue to reinvent yourself and come with that fresh, new energy.
Speaking of charts: "Savage Love" just entered the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, which means you've officially earned a top 10 hit in three consecutive decades. That's crazy.
That is crazy.
What was your reaction to that when you heard?
I actually heard that today. Just scrolling through Twitter. For some reason, Twitter's got all the stats. People go chart-crazy on Twitter.
—chart data (@chartdata) August 3, 2020
But yeah, I thought that was pretty unbelievable. It feels kind of weird saying it, given everything that's going on, but I feel younger than ever. I feel more inspired than ever. I don't see any slowing in the near future. I always feel like a new birth has happened every time I release new music, I feel like a different person. I'm reinspired.
I always humble myself enough to know that there's always room to grow. So this accolade, it just furthers that idea.
You were 20 years old when you earned your first No. 1 hit in 2009 ["Whatcha Say"] and now, you're this music industry veteran, but you're collaborating with a lot of younger TikTok stars. Since you found success at such a young age, does that affect how you interact with them? Do they ever ask you for advice?
Oh yeah, absolutely. A lot of the TikTokers that I tend to be close to are aiming to be music stars, I think. They have these amazing platforms and they want to utilize them to become something even bigger. So yeah, all the time. Wherever I can, try to reach in and help somebody out, I do that.
Like for my session with "Coño," I pulled in Ondreaz Lopez to come be a collaborator on writing the lyrics. And I was shocked at how good he was. So I've always been that person, naturally, pulling in new talent because you never know where you'll find that fresh new energy.
And it's worked time and time again — with "Talk Dirty," that being Ricky Reed's first song that he produced. And "Want to Want Me" with Ian Kirkpatrick, and "Trumpets" with Jon Bellion, all first-timers. They never had a hit before ours.
So that's proof that all people need sometimes is a shot, is a chance. All those producers have continued on and become these massive producers, because of that first shot that they had.
Did you ever struggle with having so much attention and so many eyes on you at such an early age?
I try to keep my head down and just rock forward. I've never really been the type of artist that was always looking to the media for negativity, or trying to garner attention because I'm doing this, or dating this person. I always just try to make great music. You know what I'm saying?
And for me, I think there's a positive and negative to that. I think maybe, if I was like that, maybe my music would even go further — if that's even a thing.
But if I had any advice for anybody, I would say, stay creative. Because at the end of the day, people can love or hate your music, but at least that is what you're known for: your music.
Attention is tough. With every positive that you hear, you're going to hear 10 negatives. It is really tough. But at the end of the day, you got to just keep your head down and just rock with the people that rock with you. And stay creative.
Is there something about you, your hobbies or your personality, that you feel like would surprise people?
Not really anymore. I feel like with TikTok, I just laid everything out. People know me now. It's like, if you didn't know me before, you can see who I am on TikTok, through and through.
When you post videos, do you ever get the feeling of like, "This one's going to go viral," or do you just post without considering it?
No. Sometimes actually, I be like, "Yo, this one's going to go crazy!" And then it doesn't. There's no crystal ball in terms of that. Sometimes I want to be like, "Are y'all kidding me? Y'all didn't like this one?"
Well, now's your time to shout out a video that you were proud of that didn't get enough attention.
You know what, let me see. Let me check in my recents, for one that I feel like should have went crazy, crazy.
[Scrolling] Hmm. This is so funny. Oh, I felt like this should have did better, for sure. I'm cooking a gigantic marshmallow.
Yeah, it did well, it got 9.2 million views, but I was like, "Yo, this one's about to go crazy."
Just 9.2 million measly views. No big deal.
[Laughs] Yeah. Thank you.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
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