Justin Timberlake – Interview [2003]

Justin Timberlake

Were you at all surprised by the UK success? Is it gratifying to have done so well there with your show?

Yes. It was – both. You know, I was pleasantly surprised. And, you know, I really had no expectations, you know, what the age bracket (is), what the crowd’s going to be, you know, and it’s been a very mixed crowd. If I had to assume the ages of the people, they looked to me like 26 to 27, like couples and then, you know, another percentage of them obviously, you know, mothers and daughters and sons and fathers. And it’s cool. It’s nice to have so many different cultures and so many different, you know, age and generations in one room.

What do you see as the future of teen pop with and without you? And what have you done and all you’re doing to go beyond that?

I – teen pop will never be dead. The death of teen pop and its venue, as it was, sure. I just think obviously, you know, teen pop moves onto – it moves onto whatever it is. As long as there’s teens and as long as, you know, we have, you know, culture with popular music in it, teen pop will never die as far as I’m – as far as I’m concerned. I just think it takes on a different – it takes on a different head, you know. Years ago it was Nirvana and then it turned into, you know, Britney and now it’s, you know – I don’t know. I’d like to think that I was part of it somewhere along the line. But, you know, I mean, now it’s like 50 Cents. So I mean teen pop is – it’s whatever the kids in the suburbs are listening to. So…

Is there any correlation with the overwhelming popularity of “American Idol” and if kids are getting their pop music from that TV series and, kind of, that might – is that in any way do you think watering down the pop music scene in terms of records and concerts?

Well honestly, I don’t think “American Idol” has anything to do with records. I mean obviously, it made a plateau for Kelly Clarkson for getting in. And I don’t think it’s determining what kids, you know, are listening to. I think – you know, I think kids can think for themselves. And I think – you know, I think young people and our youth can – and they like what they like, you know. Some kids like Good Charlotte. Some kids like, you know, my stuff. Some kids like 50 Cent. Some kids like all of it, you know. And that’s the beauty of where music has really gone to, especially with young people rising up, you know, and really making a name for themselves. There’s so many different flavors to pick from.

So you – do you think “American Idol” is a good thing for pop music?

I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say that. I think, you know, I – honestly, I’ve only – I’ve only seen one episode of it. I never get a chance to watch TV. But I think it’s like, you know, it’s a great show and it’s a great venue for someone who has a lot of talent to really make a name for themselves. And, you know, obviously it’s a great – it’s a great spectrum to display what you want to display. But, you know, after the show is over and you make a record, I think, you know, that’s when – that’s when the real crunch time starts because that’s when, you know, you really have to make something with substance.

Do you know what your next single will be yet and if you have any video ideas for it?

I’m thinking about the next single right now. And, you know, I wish we would have done this next week because then I would have had an answer for you. I’m leaning towards “Senorita” but I don’t want to say for sure what it’s going to be. And no, I don’t as far as the video goes. I haven’t – like I haven’t really thought too much about it. I’m going to like start bearing down on that in the next couple of weeks. But if I had to make an assumption right now, I’d say “Senorita.”

Can you talk a little bit about why you decided to team up with Christina for the summer tour and also, kind of, what fans can expect from your side of the show?

Well I think originally why we teamed up with Aguilera, it was a cool innovative way to tour, you know. It’s, kind of, like it’s two shows really for the price of one. And why not, you know? I think when it comes to touring, all we really are looking to do is just get kids – you know, get kids in the seats and then (kick) their asses out of them, you know, for at least an hour, you know, hour-and-a-half. And I think that’s the main idea with touring. And I think, you know, Christina and I are releasing these albums. You know, even though this is her second album and my first album, I think we were, kind of, at similar places in our career where we wanted to break the mold of what people looked at as teen pop and moving to a different direction. And so I think those couple of things added up to why I thought it was cool for us to tour together. And to answer the second part of the question, you know, I think fans can expect to, you know, to see – to see a spectacle, you know. I will always come with something that – I’ll always come with something that’s ascetically pleasing hopefully. But, you know, at the same time, nothing really takes away from the music on this show. And, you know, I have a three-piece horn section and a (DJ), as well.
And so, the band’s really full and it – I really enjoy the sound of it, you know. I think in all the right ways we added to what was already, you know, that last sound that was on the record.

I wanted to get some insights from you about how this whole solo experience has turned out compared to maybe expectations you had going in and how that might be – what you do with ‘N Sync when you guys get back together.

Well, you know, honestly, I really had no expectations. I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, you know – you know, when you look in the mirror, you know, you try to say to yourself yes, you want to just to kick ass, you want to just do good. And, you know, I think you have your own expectations on yourself just being a perfectionist, you know, and loving what you do. But I really didn’t expect it to go this well, you know. Everything is – (teenagers) really responded to the music. And, you know, whereas people used to, you know, come up and say, you know, really off-the-wall random things, you know, now I’m getting more or less people walk in like man, you know, track number seven on the record, man, that’s great. And I like it when people – when people say stuff because that means they’re not even paying attention to what the song title was. They were just looking into the song. If I could, kind of, toot my own horn at any accomplishment that I’ve made, you know, that’s, you know, to be perceived in that way. I mean that was the goal of this record. And I guess I, kind of, feel like I did it. As far as moving forward, you know, I have no idea what’s going to happen or how it’s going to affect anything, you know. But that’s the beauty of, you know, being the artist is you, kind of, just – you go where the inspiration lies. And, you know, you can’t put a finger on it and you never know what’s going to work. You just, kind of, have to go with how you feel, go with the flow.

After all these years of touring with the guys as part of a group, now you’re out doing it solo. I’m wondering what particular challenges that might bring to you.

Well obviously, you know, it’s vocally way more demanding, you know, whereas, you know, JC sang a lot of the other leads, you know. And now it’s like I’m using my voice for the whole show, you know. There’s no half-stepping. You know, whereas I could have just jumped back and sang some backgrounds, you know, it’s me out front. And, you know, I think it – you know, in the – in the rehearsals it took me, kind of, just getting over that and just really just getting down to it and singing and really feeling, you know, what’s happening sonically on stage and just getting into it. But other than that, you know, I don’t really feel challenged, you know. I know that the people who do come to see the show are obviously people who wanted to come. So I think they’re already – you know, from what I’ve noticed over here doing shows is they’re already ready to have a good time, you know. And I think if you come to a show with that frame of mind, you know, it’s really – it’s not about me because I truly feel that anybody who’s sitting in the crowd could be standing on stage with me. I feel like we’re all on stage, you know, if I may. And I just think it’s about connecting. It’s just about connecting with the crowd and making them feel like it’s OK to, you know, shake their ass.

I just was wondering how you’ve prepared for the NBA on TNT set and how does that go around your touring schedule?

Well that, kind of, gets in where it gets it in. And, you know, there’s nothing really to compare, you know. I think just being a fan of the NBA and watching, I think that’s, kind of, why they wanted me to, kind of, liaison and do stuff like that. Because I think it just brings more of a voice that’s so technical or makes people talk about stats and stuff. It’s just – it, kind of, just brings a little more fun into the – into the commentator field. And I think that’s, kind of, what I have to offer.

How did you get to collaborate with the Black-eyed Peas in that single that’s out over here, which I really think is great, another opening for you too?

Will from the Peas called me. And he said hey, man – he does a lot of production for their stuff. He does a lot of – produces their stuff. And he called me and said hey, man, I got this one, you know, check that I want to start doing. I was wondering if you – if you want to do it. And prior to that, you know, I’d hung out with the guys a lot, like we went to the clubs and we danced in the circles together. And, you know, if you’ve seen those videos, you know that they like to free style dance a lot. And we always would get into it. So I think, you know, dissolving that friendship, we felt that it was cool. You know, we might have a cool job going in the studio. And then I just came in and heard the track. And the guys had already done their voices. And, you know, I remember – I remember when Will played me the track on the phone, I had already started hearing a melody. And then he sent me a CD while I was – this was actually – he sent me the CD while I was recording for my record and then I just – you know, I just immediately starting hearing this hook. And, you know, I called him up and I said, man, I think I got it. I think I got this hook.
So, you know, it was just about finding the time. And I got – I went and got in a studio with him and I went in and sang the hook for him. And he was like, man, it’s just perfect. So it was just one of those things that, you know, a collaboration, creative people working together just worked out.

Do you feel that you have created your own separate identity now from *NSYNC? And will there ever be *NSYNC down the road?

Well, as of right now we are planning to go in the studio, you know, as a creative person that hasn’t even thought about what we would work on, and where the direction would go. I know that it would have to be something a little new, creative, and different. And so I can’t make any promises on what it’s going to sound like, or if we even feel confident enough to put it out. I mean I’m sure we will, but yes, I think I’ve definitely made, I think I’ve definitely created my own, you know, stay. Yes, if I may.

So you’ve had incredible success with *NSYNC, and as a solo artist. Tell me a little bit about how that has affected your musical growth? And also how you want to be viewed as an artist?

Well, I think I’m being viewed exactly how I want to be, you know. I think as far as a view, you know, you can’t really put – you can’t really put a finger on something like that because everybody’s got their own opinion. And that’s great, that’s what makes, you know, people different, and the world go round. But I think my musical tastes, you know, I just think more or less I just listen to everything now. And I am so much more into it. And think this record, this solo record was such an opportunity to come into my own as a song writer, and really just dive into it. And you know, I think it definitely had an affect on the way I look at music, and the way I look at songs. And so.

What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated for the BET Awards?

It’s great. It’s great. You know, I remember when they first played the first video on BET, I was like ‘whoa!’ You know, this, and you know, that’s when I think I kind of realized that this was a bed of a different feather. You know, and that, you know, I’m flattered for any nomination for any award, to be honest with you. You know, but I think the biggest award I could possibly get is, you know, if somebody comes up to me, and then like ‘hey, I picked up your record, and I just really dig it, I really enjoy it.’ You know, that means more to me than any, you know statue or trophy, or anything, you know. Because that means people really paid attention, and so.

A hundred years from now, Justin, when the great grandkids of everyone participating in this teleconference crack open or download the history of pop music what will the entry about Justin Timberlake say?

What a sense of humor he must have had. No, I’m kidding. I don’t – I have no idea to be honest with you. You know, it’s like I still feel like the new kid on the block, and I know I’ve been, you know, making records since I was 15, and that adds up to seven or eight years. But, you know, I really still feel like, you know, with this project that I’m really coming into my own. And that, I still feel like the new kid on the block. And so I have no clue what people will say. I mean I hope that it’s something good, though!

Can you share with us some of the personal items on your tour rider? And then the second part of that question is I know that JC when he’s on tour he will not wear the same underwear twice because they get so sweaty. And I was wondering if you have any quirks that are similar to that?

Well, I believe in the washer and dryer, those definitely work. Yes, JC has always been like that. And I don’t think I really have anything, you know, what I really request is traditional medicine always makes this tea called ‘throat coat’ and it’s probably the best singer’s tea you can have. And I request licorice root, which is, it looks like, literally like a twig of tree bark. It looks like tree bark, but it’s just – usually just stuff that’s good for your voice. And other than that, you know, water, and I don’t know, Gatorade, honey for the tea. I’m pretty low maintenance.

I was wondering if you might have some surprise guests planned for your shows? Or if you could, who would you bring up there on stage with you?

You never know. I mean I’m sure I’ll yank Pharrell up on stage when he’s there. And we might – you know, you never know. And who is going to be there, and you know, what could happen. But that’s the beauty of a live show. You know, it could be anybody.

Some people out there who may see you’re teaming up with Ms. Aguilara, as perhaps some sort of slight, or slap in the face to Ms. Spears. And I wondered, when you hear that kind of talk what’s you’re response to that.

We’ll, you know, I can’t do anything about what people speculate. I know that I would never do anything just – you know, just for spite. So, I’m just not that type of person. I think why I choose to tour with Christina, you know, it was a situation where her manager called mine and they said, you know, we think it would be a good idea, and I thought, you know, it’s innovative. It’s just the cool thing to do and, you know, my decisions for my career have nothing to do with my personal life.

Can you talk a little bit about the temptations you’ve faced along the way and what kind of grounding forces there were in your life? Obviously, things have worked out well for you, and other people, in other situations, might have not fared as well.

Well, thanks. You know, I think – you know, the temptations that I’ve encountered are obviously the same temptations any young person growing up faces. You know, I just think – you know, more or less the ones I’ve faced, you know, they’re speculated and turned into something else, and more or less, because there’s such a big public eye – you’re in a fish bowl. But, you know, more or less, I think the reason for why I’m standing here and doing what I love to do, and still have a head on my shoulders, is my mother – you know, my mother and my dad. They’re both just great parents and they – you know, they just taught me well and I think that has a lot to do with it.

Since you’re on your own now, and you’ve been with this group for some many years and branched off, how will this experience of touring on your own help you develop and grow in a way that being with ‘N Sync didn’t?

I don’t think it’s more or less in a way that, you know, ‘N Sync didn’t. I just think, you know, like I said – you know, I’m sure you would agree with me when I say that when you’re 20 you’re totally different than are when you’re 19, when you 21 you’re totally different than you were when you were 20, and so and so forth. And I’m only 22, and I know that there’s many things – many, many things that I’m going to go through that I’m going to have these epiphanies and like – oh, (duh) – you know. But, at the same time, I think while I’m in it, and under the microscope of the world, I think, you know, for me, I have to take that and say, you know what, forgot about all that, just do what you’re doing, grow as a person and that’s what I’ve continued to do. That’s what I’ve done, even before, with the guys in the group. That’s what I’ve always told myself and I think that’s what I’ll continue to do.

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