Justin Bieber Opens Up About Selena Gomez, Compares Church to Taco Bell
The back half of 2015 has been good to Justin Bieber. Between the success of "Where Are U Now" with Skrillex and Diplo and his own "What Do You Mean?" (plus his emotional performance of both at this year's MTV VMAs), it's enough to make us forget all about that apology tour for his gaffes of the year(s) prior. Well, almost enough to make us forget — and in a new Complex cover story, the singer reflects on his long, very public transition period. The accompanying photo shoot sees the singer chained up like a pre-escape Houdini, likely a broad metaphor for the tricky celebrity terrain Justin's been navigating.
The profile's writer, Joe La Puma, observes that Bieber's a new man these days: "He’s not the same kid who was playing Temple Run and doodling backstage when we first met in 2012. Bieber now makes a point of looking you in the eye when he’s speaking, and one thing is clear: He’s in the mood to talk." And talk he does, in a lengthy interview full of quotes that are rapidly making their way around the internet. Here's 8 things we learned about Justin from the interview, ranging from music news to how he sees himself.
1. He'd agree with a claim from Skrillex that he's "good at everything" and he knows it feeds the haters.
"Growing up, I literally got my identity through being good at stuff. I always wanted to be the best because I felt like that’s how I got my self-worth," Justin says, of his natural talent for everything from skateboarding to singing. "I think that also got me in trouble when I was young, because people don’t like when people are good at stuff. They just hate on it, and that has a lot to do with my hate in general. You see a dude who’s successful and he’s doing what he loves and people don’t take too well to that sometimes."
2. He deeply values Kanye West's (often abstract) creative input.
Of working with 'Ye on his upcoming album, he says, "I’ll play a song, and he’ll be like, “Man this reminds me of like...a blacklight sunset,” or something. He’ll try to paint these pictures for you. It’s not the average way. He doesn’t just come in and say, “This sounds good; this sounds bad.” He’ll be like, “This is this because the world needs this.”
3. He's made plenty of new music — it's just not the music he wants fans to hear.
"I’ve done probably three or four albums that I haven’t released yet," Justin said, when asked about scrapping an earlier album draft. He later says with Diplo and Skrillex, are "breaking barriers" in the EDM world. "I think people have been trying to do it for a while, making dance music, like Usher and all of those people, but I don’t think it’s been done in the right way."
4. He's got a clear-eyed explanation for why "got into a little bit of trouble."
"I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be. I veered off, and I got tainted," he says of being disillusioned by fame in his mid-teens, and not getting any time to enjoy the ride. "There are awesome people who are the lovely, amazing, joyful kind. But I only saw people who are sh---tty and were taking advantage of me. When you have that perspective, the way you act changes. I was basically like, F---ck everybody. Then I started doing my own thing. I got into a little bit of trouble—nothing that other 20-year-olds don’t get into—just rebelling a little bit."
5. The biggest lesson he learned from his 2014 Miami arrest is...that 24 hours in jail really sucks.
"It’s freezing; it’s uncomfortable; there are people in there you just don’t want to be around. I had people who were yelling at me. They were saying, “Bieber! We f---k with you, bro! We love you! Aye! Keep your head up, bro!” It was kind of funny to hear that, especially from cats in jail."
6. Yes, he knows his March 2014 deposition tape was ridiculously hostile — but he thinks some folks overreacted to his lesser crimes.
"I think the deposition was a little too much," he admits, saying later, "I was also frustrated. I was in a weird place. It was annoying. I just felt like I didn’t owe the guy anything. I was just going to mess with every question he had. I got him, too. He was so frustrated. An hour of him just being like, I don’t know what to do or say."
That said, Justin firmly believes you should be able to wiz in a non-bathroom area if a "dude in a club" tells you it's okay (wait, the dude in question a bouncer? Or just some random guy?). "Honestly, I think the pissing in the bucket wasn’t as big as people made it seem."
7. He feels like he was "married" to his ex, and says he's "scarred."
"I moved in with my girlfriend when I was 18," he says, not naming Selena Gomez directly. "Started my own life with her. It was a marriage kind of thing. Living with a girl, it was just too much at that age. But we were so in love. Nothing else mattered. We were all about each other."
He goes on to (correctly) say, "But when it’s like that and you get your value from that, people will always disappoint you. Your girl or your dude, they’re always going to disappoint you. Your full identity can’t be in that person. My identity was in her. Her identity was in me. When stuff would happen, I would lose my freakin’ mind, and she would lose her mind, and we would fight so hard because we were so invested in each other."
8. When it comes to discussing his own Christianity, he's very open, and full of colorful metaphors.
"I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus—I could never—I don’t want that to come across weird," he clarifies. "He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind."
Still, he realizes religion is a complicated subject. "It doesn’t make you a Christian just by going to church," says Justin. "I think that going to church is fellowship, it’s relationship, it’s what we’re here on the earth to do, to have this connection that you feel there’s no insecurities. I think that’s where we need to be." And then, he delivers a quote worthy of t-shirts and bumper stickers: "Like I said, you don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. If you go to Taco Bell, that doesn’t make you a taco."
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