Skrillex and Diplo are set to collaborate on Justin Bieber’s new album. So said the trio, in radio interviews the day after their explosive, closer performance of “Where Are Ü Now” at last weekend’s Ultra Music Festival.
As yet, it’s not known how many songs will be worked on. The news comes after Bieber’s recent confirmation with USA Today that his anticipated new album will be co-produced by Def Jam Records founder Rick Rubin and Kanye West.
Last Sunday, Skrillex capped his ferocious, headlining show at the Ultra Music Festival by seguing into his Jack Ü project with Diplo. Artists Kiesza, South Korea’s CL, and Diddy hit the stage. But it was the spectacular finish of Jack Ü and Bieber’s vibey throwdown of the shimmering “Where Are Ü Now,” that wowed a wild audience who neither knew nor cared that Bieber was lip-syncing.
Incidentally, the singer didn’t hide the fact that he wasn’t singing live, and is reportedly still recovering from a bout of strep throat. During interviews with Miami’s Power 96, Y100, and Hits 97.3, Bieber, Skrillex, and Diplo promoted their new song, talked Jack Ü, and more.
Zooming straight to Bieber and Jack Ü’s reveal about writing/producing on the Canadian’s in-progress album. During their sit-down with Power 96 last Monday, co-host Cato K asked Bieber if he enjoyed Ultra and whether there are any plans to perform at other festivals.
“I would love to. I don’t think we have anything planned right now,” Bieber replied. He then referred to the festival, and said, “It was my first time experiencing anything like that and it was incredible, man.”
The singer added, “I think me and these guys [Skrillex and Diplo] are going to collaborate on my next album, and do something really special. Really world-changing.”
Power 96 co-host Lucy Lopez also asked Jack Ü why they were doing a radio tour for the first time, given their typically Internet-based promotion of their music.
“I’ve never done any radio promo for any of my records. This is the first time,” Skrillex said. He went on, “We came up completely organically in our world, and I think there was never really an avenue in radio for what we were doing.”
Diplo agreed, saying, “It’s cool that these records have kind of like reached a critical mass, to where people are pretty much loving them all across the board.”
With a nod to “Where Are Ü Now,” Bieber said of the buzz around the track, “It’s all pretty much word of mouth.”
Replying to Lopez’s question on how each producer-DJ decides who to work with, Skrillex offered, “Music, for us, is just a really fun thing to do.” Explaining, he added, “We came up, you know, making records with our friends and artists that we collaborated with, and then careers came out of that.”
Separating Jack Ü’s philosophy from chart-or-die sensibilities, Skrillex noted, “It’s a whole different ecosystem of how we work, and a whole different mindset.”
Of his and Diplo’s wider intention, he continued, “Part of what we do is curating culture, of what we see as the future of music.”
Then, referring specifically to the Bieber track, he added, “Maybe it takes longer [with Jack Ü’s organic method] for a record like ‘Where Are Ü Now’ to become as popular as some of the biggest pop records. But at the same time, it’s breaking ground.”
After Diplo nutshelled his history with Bieber (he co-produced “Thought of You” on 2012’s Believe album, “Memphis” on 2013’s Journals, and said he’d known the singer’s manager Scooter Braun for over ten years), he revealed Braun sent him a piano-and-voice version of “Where Are Ü Now” while they were at the same party in New York City (coinciding with Justin’s appearance at Fashion Rocks last September).
“It was like a really strong record that Justin wrote, it was like a ballad,” Diplo recalled. He added that he told Skrillex [who was at the same party], “I said, ‘Yo Sonny, man, listen to this record. We could f**k this record up, this is crazy.'”
An insight into Jack Ü’s attitude toward working with Bieber was revealed, when DJ Cato K insinuated that Skrillex may have had more resistance to collaborating with the singer than Diplo. However, Sonny Moore immediately shut that idea down.
“Absolutely not. I’ve never been like that,” he countered. “If I like something I’ll work on it… I think it’s so easy to discriminate on people. Especially like Justin Bieber — who’s been a kid that’s been famous his whole life and [lived] his whole life in front of everybody, and it’s so easy to judge people (sic).”
Elaborating, Skrillex praised Bieber. “But I think he’s one of the most talented singers and musicians all around… If you have good energy and we vibe together and it’s natural, I’m willing [to work].”
At that point, Diplo weighed in, saying, “One thing about Justin that’s really special; I don’t think there’s gonna be an artist as iconic as him.”
“Furthermore: Where he came up from, and like how he exploded and like the place he has in culture is so crazy, and weird and so enormous. I don’t think there’s gonna be another artist like that for a long time. The Internet changed things you know. “
“He [Bieber] kinda came up when it was still grassroots. For us to work with him, and like f*** with people’s perceptions of what he does, or what we do is, like, important to us.
“Because I think good music trumps everything.”
During the show, Lopez asked Bieber to describe the difference, if any, between writing for his own audience and working with Jack Ü.
“Well, what I think is just like, these guys are changing the game right now,” Bieber replied. “They’re doing something that’s never been done. I wanted to be part of that.”
Lopez later claimed she was “excited” that Bieber has effectively been given a “hall pass” to the dance world. To use her words, because the “Kings of this community [a community which she described as “mother*******”] said, ‘Come on we’ll co-sign you, let’s go papa.'”
For his part, Bieber replied humbly, given he punched in five No.1 Billboard albums before reaching 19. He added, “I think that this is a transitional period in my life and in my career, and to have these guys supporting me means the world. So, thank you guys.”
Before the Power 96 interview wrapped, Diplo said the following of Bieber. “He’s been the homie since day one, and I think that he’s always been into good music and supported our movement. So I’ve got nothing but love for Justin.”
During the Q100 Miami interview, Diplo revealed that he and Skrillex racked up around 20 mixes and worked on “Where Are Ü Now” for about three months to make it “our style, our vibe.” While at the station, Diplo stated, “We got to do something for Justin Bieber’s album though.”
To which, Bieber chimed back, “That’s next.” The rest of the interview was almost identical to Power 96’s.
Currently, the trio’s mid-tempo slayer is No.7 on Australia’s Aria chart, No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, No 4. on the Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs chart, and No. 82 on the Hot 100 chart.
It’s not just Beliebers who are excited about the Biebs’ upcoming album. Media and music industry interest in what emerges from the Bieber–Rubin–West triumvirate and the singer’s continued collaboration with Jack Ü, is at an all-time high. Because everyone knows this is Justin Bieber’s most important album, both musically and economically.
On Thursday, it was announced that Bieber will join the lineup at KIIS FM’s Wango Tango on May 9, which Kanye is headlining. During the On Air With Ryan Seacrest interview that followed, Bieber talked about his new album, former girlfriend Selena Gomez, changes he has made in his life, and more.
Of West, who remixed Bieber’s 2010 hit “Runaway Love” and whose 2013 Yeezus album was co-produced by Rubin (with others), the singer was asked what the rapper-designer brings to the creative table.
“I’ve been in the studio with him for the past month or so,” Bieber revealed. “I think that he just pushes you. He definitely wants it to be my way and my direction and he doesn’t want to steal what I want… That’s why artists love to go to him, because he pulls something out of you that other people don’t.”
“I’m not in a rush,” was the heartthrob’s reply to a query about his album release date. The reasons seemed clear when he added, “I just want to create the best piece of art that I can create. Something that’s really near and dear to my heart.”
Bieber then explains, “I know that there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been going through over the last few years. I just really want to bleed it on this record.”
He continued, “I want people to know that I’m not playing around. I’m not doing a record that is cookie cutter, or doing something that I think people want to hear.”
“I want to do something that I know that I can feel, and people are going to feel it through my music,” he stressed, adding, “I’m pretty silent about what I’ve been going through and just growing up in this life is hard, so I want to translate that.”
After affirming his new album will feature “snippets” of EDM, due to the continuing success of his fire collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo, Bieber told Seacrest that most of his album will “be really musical” with “a lot of real instrumentation.”
Asked whether he would be responding musically to Selena Gomez’s lovelorn “The Heart What Wants It Wants,” the singer reeled off a slew of “No’s,” but did admit the starlet is his muse.
“I think a lot of my inspiration comes from her [Selena Gomez],” said Bieber. “It was a long relationship and a relationship that created heartbreak, and created happiness, and a lot of different emotions that I wanted to write about, so there’s a lot of that on this album.”
For some artists, it’s pressure that provides the fuel to create something monumental. For Bieber, with everything to prove and a “new walk,” something urgent appears to motivate the singer. “I just really want to bleed it on this record,” and “I wanted them to understand that I am a real human being” — are the hopes of an artist and of someone who wants to understand himself, and be understood.
Now, finally, lucidly speaking up about the warping effects of fame, corroded limits — and the rest, on a 12-year-old growing up inside the seductive, dream factory of teen idolhood, an older and evidently wiser Justin Bieber is gearing up to deliver the album of his life.
That sound? A music icon. Returning.
[Images via Larry Marano/Getty Images/Instagram]