Justin Bieber, Jack Ü Deconstruct ‘Where Are Ü Now,’ Reveal Origin Of That Riff

Justin Bieber, Diplo, and Skrillex’s juggernaut dance song “Where Are Ü Now” gets expertly deconstructed by acclaimed New York Times journalist and music critic Jon Pareles and an outstanding editing team in an interactive, behind-the-music video that unwraps one of the biggest songs of the summer.

The video and accompanying article are a fascinating walk through the journey of the song from a slow piano ballad co-written by Bieber and Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, to the bittersweet, pulsing game changer it became in the hands of Jack U’s Diplo and Skrillex.

The EDM titans reveal they bumped into Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, at a New York Fashion Week party last September, with Braun emailing the producers the Biebs-Bear demo after they chatted. At the beginning of the clip, Diplo says “Skrillex would have probably never have done a song with Bieber a year before,” and admits part of the appeal of collaborating with the Canadian singer was the unlikeliness of it all. “No one would expect it. It would be so insane.”

Fast forward to February 27, when Jack Ü stealth-dropped their debut album, “Where Are U Now” went on to become the most talked about cut on the record. It has since generated over 236 million streams on Spotify alone. It went double platinum in Australia, and platinum in the U.S. in July, and around the world, and peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart. Over on YouTube, the crowd-sourced, artsy official video racked up more than 100 million views in two months.

Factor in the sheer quality of the track, and it’s not hard to see why Diplo, Skrillex, and Bieber eventually came to the attention of the New York Times.

Among the reveals, we learn that the song’s signature riff (Diplo called it the “violin/flute” sound, Skrillex dubbed it the “dolphin” sound), is actually the Biebs’ voice pitch-shifted and distorted up to insane levels. The 21-year-old singer also confessed he wasn’t sure about collaborating with Jack Ü at first, but said he was blown away when he heard their final mix.

In addition to breaking down the songcraft, technical process and creative intent behind “Where Are Ü Now,” the eight-minute video also shows Skrillex playing Jack Ü mixes that were not sent to Bieber.

Opening up about the repeated riff, which used Bieber singing “I need you the most,” Skrillex said:

“It was finding that one little thing which was the dolphin singing, the dolphin sound. It’s pitched way up, distorted, bounced, rebounded again, so it sounds worse almost,” he added.

Of the vocal sample, Diplo noted, “Anybody can copy any synth now. But if you manipulate vocals, it’s really something original that no one can do.”

“Where Are U Now” didn’t just deliver Diplo and Skrillex their first top 10 U.S. hit, Bieber’s musical and personal career rejuvenation and excitement for the Skrillex-produced album he is now completing is evident in the video.

“Now, here we are… I’m dancing. I got everyone jumping, giving me a reason that I never thought I would get, especially for that type of crowd.”

The heartthrob added, “Cause I think [the] last tour was awesome. Like I loved the song, but at certain times, I was just like going through the motions, and I just want to love every part of it.”

Amid Bieber’s comeback and ongoing, celebrity-assisted countdown to “What Do You Mean?” his lead single from his upcoming album, fans will likely be heartened to hear the singer reiterate his previously stated decision to be his authentic self after a turbulent time.

“For Skrillex and Diplo to kind of co-sign me was, like, this is awesome,” Bieber says, before adding, “Like, they’re so cool, they don’t try too hard. They’re just themselves… I’m at the point now where it’s like I don’t want to try.”

He then mused, “You know what? I went through my phase of trying to be ‘cool guy Justin,’ and it’s just like people can read right through that. And I’m at the point where I’m just like, I want to just be me.”

Watch the New York Times video here or follow the links in the tweets.

[Images via Getty Images / Twitter]