Jason Derülo: Living the Dream
Story and Interview by Matthew Shack
((( Audio Interview Below )))
Jason Derülo is living the American Dream...literally.
This is not a traditional "rags to riches" story, but it is nearly just as good.
The 20-year-old Miami native, landed a deal on multi-platinum producer, J.R. Rotem's Beluga Heights label after penning songs for the likes of Diddy, Birdman and Lil Wayne.
His debut single, "Whatcha Say" released in May 2009 went double platinum, selling over five million digital downloads, and reached #1 in the US and New Zealand.
Not bad for first record.
Derülo's next single, "In My Head" became his second song to reach the #1 on Billboard's Pop Songs radio airplay chart,making him the first solo male artist to achieve consecutive #1's with his first two entries in the survey's 17-year history.
His debut album, "Jason Derülo" was released on March 2, 2010 to rave reviews, while opening up for Lady Gaga'sThe Monster Ball Tour.
Jason Derülo talks about 'living the dream' with The Flow'sown, Matthew Shack.
TFM: Congratulations on the release of your new album. Just want to get an idea of how it feels, to finally have your stuff out there in the marketplace?
Jason Derülo: Man, it's an incredible feeling. It's unparalleled! I've been working toward this my entire life and to finally have it come to fruition is incredible...seriously.
TFM: What's been your biggest challenge in your journey up to this point to say, "My record is out. My records are in stores."
Jason Derülo: My biggest challenge is probably the negativity. A lot of people who are unbelievers, they try to put you down and tell you that you can't do stuff. I had teachers even tell me that my goals and dreams are unrealistic and stuff like that. That was probably the biggest challenge I had to go through, [back] then. With all success and high hopes comes negativity, and I had to learn that the hard way.
TFM: Common knowledge is that you are Haitian-American. What does the release of your album mean to you or coincide with the tragedy out there in Haiti?
Jason Derülo: I have Haitian roots in everything I do. That's a direct representation of where I'm from and where my family is from and where we came from. That's there naturally. I was raised pretty [much] American but I come from a really Haitian family. It's my roots so everything I do will be underlined with that 'Haitian stamp' on it.
TFM: Any plans for you to go out there and do some shows and performances so your fans out there can see you 'live and upfront'?
Jason Derülo: Absolutely, man! I just got off tour with Lady Gaga and I'll be starting my own tour in probably June. And I'll be doing a lot of stop dates and a lot of television so there will be a lot of promo going on. So I will do a few stop dates, then my official tour will start later on.
TFM: Let's talk about your single, "Whatcha Say". To be able say that your single hit #1 on Billboard...how did you feel when you got those numbers back and what were you thinking when you were writing the song?
Jason Derülo: It felt great! The fact that my fanbase was receptive was more important than my numbers.The fact that my fans are in love with the music I make is as the top of my list of priorities. What was I thinking when I made the song? My brother actually cheated on his girlfriend. She left him and he didn't know what to do, so I encourged him to try and win her love back. So he did and he was calling her for weeks, so I decided to write a song about it.
TFM: Musiq Soulchild is one of your favorite artists and I had the pleasure of interviewing him in the past. He's a very humble guy. Tell us how he came across to you when you told him that he was one of your mentors, as far as your singing style.
Jason Derülo: I met him at the Grammys and I went up to him and said, "Hey man, [I'm] Jason Derülo." He said, "Yeah, I know." Now, that was real cool because he knew who I was. So then I was like, "Yeah man, you had a big influence in my music, early on. I use to sing a bunch of your songs and I thought that I was going to do the Neo-Soul thing." He was like, "Really, man? That's awesome!" He was like, "I really dig your stuff and I appreciate that. That means the world to me."Then he said, "In the future, let's work together...I want to work with you." I was like, "Yeah, no problem." It was cool...really, really cool.
TFM: That's an exclusive! [Laughs] Jason Derülo and Musiq Soulchild coming to a store near you, soon enough!
Jason Derülo: [Laughs] Yeah.
TFM: I wanted to let you know that one of the reasons that I requested to interview you is that, I saw the Michael Jackson, "Billie Jean" routine that you did. And I thought that it was very, very, VERY brave of you to do it. Not that you don't have the singing ability. But to have someone that's SO beloved as he is, and to go out and do it as confidently as you did? That was very impressive. What kind of feedback have you gotten so far?
Jason Derülo: The feedback has been awesome, really. I thought that there was going to be a lot of 'hate' involved with coming with such a bold move. I decided to do it because he is my biggest influence and I feel that I should pay homage...like, why not? Why not, do it? That song had a big influence on me and my life. I enjoyed doing it. I had fun and a really great time, too.
TFM: And I noticed, you didn't try to mimic him when you did it. You took all the elements and made them Jason Derülo. That's something that you're probably going to be credited for because, who's done a Michael Jackson cover?
Jason Derülo: People often ask others, "Can you do a Michael Jackson cover?" And they're like, "No, that's too hard."But, you don't have to do it 'just like Mike'. My thing is that you can do the record. The record is amazing and the record is a classic. Make it your own...you know?
((( Audio Interview Below )))