Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Jason Derulo: In The Beginning

Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo Jason Derulo Jason Derulo Jason Derulo

Having already impressively attained close on 50 million worldwide record sales in just five years, US superstar singer/songwriter/dancer Jason Derulo this month comes correct with the release of his eagerly-anticipated new album “Everything Is 4”. Which is currently being pioneered big-time on radio airwaves across the globe by the throbbing bass, falsetto vocals and punchy hooks of its Ian Kirkpatrick-produced first offshoot single “Want To Want Me”.

Born Jason Joel Desrouleaux into a Haitian/American family in Miramar, Florida on September 21, 1989, Derulo’s musical talent would come to the fore early on, with him writing his first song at the tender age of eight. Meanwhile, with him also beginning Performing Arts School at eight years old, Jason would spend much of his youth studying opera, theatre and ballet. Which would in turn eventually lead to him in 2006 graduating from New York’s nationally-prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).

Meanwhile, having by his mid-teens already tasted success as an actor (via lead roles in theatre productions like “Ragtime”, “Smokey Joe’s Café” and “Lucky Stuff”), from the age of 16 an adolescent Derulo would also go on to prove himself a successful songwriter to stars-of-the-day like P. Diddy, Danity Kane, Cassie, Sean Kingston and Lil Wayne. All of which would eventually lead to his own solo recording deal with multi-Platinum producer (of then-chart-topping Sean Kingston/Rihanna fame) J.R. Rotem’s Warner Music Group-affiliated label Beluga Heights, for whom his 2009 Imogen Heap-sampling debut single “Whatcha Say” would go on to top the US Hot 100 while also attaining bona fide worldwide success.

Since which time Jason has impressively gone on to release three globally-successful albums - 2010’s “Jason Derulo”; 2011’s “Future History”; 2013’s “Tattoos” (whose chart life was significantly extended by the 2014 release of “Talk Dirty”, the North-American-repackaged version which featured four newly-recorded songs) - which have between them prestigiously spawned no less than ten career Platinum singles, including 2010’s “In My Head”, 2013’s 2 Chainz-featuring/multi-award-nominated “Talk Dirty”, and 2014’s Snoop Dogg-featuring “Wiggle”.

… All of which brings us back to today and the release of the aforementioned new album “Everything Is 4”. As an ever-affable Jason - who this year sits alongside both Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe as a judge on US TV’s high-profile “So You Think You Can Dance” and who in 2014 became American radio’s most played male artist - reacquaints himself with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis for a revealing in-depth interview.

Titling his new album “Everything Is 4”

“Well, to me the number four is a number that kinda follows us AROUND, or at least certainly follows ME around. Like there are four legs on a chair, four legs on a table - so in that way four represents a strong FOUNDATION… Then there are four SEASONS, where the change of season represents being willing to accept change and accepting the fact that change is the only constant thing there IS in this world... Then on a more personal level “Everything Is 4” can equate with us saying Everything Is 4 a REASON. Like with me Everything Is 4 my MOTHER, Everything is 4 my FANS, Everything is 4 proving to myself that I can DO it... So yeah, there is a lot of meaning in the title “Everything Is 4”. And so in that way it does truly represent ME. Which in turn means it also represents the MUSIC that I make.”

How Jason breaks “Everything Is 4” down musically and lyrically

“I’d say it’s a mixture, man, of a lot of THINGS! You know, I always try to keep people guessing and keep MYSELF guessing as WELL. Which is why you’ll find a lot of Eighties Michael Jackson / Prince influences shining through on parts of this album, you’ll find some urban records in there - which is something I haven’t really done a lot of in the past - and overall just a strong sense of GROWTH. You know, there’s a strong grown-and-sexy vibe to all - a bit like the me you’ve always known but this time putting on a tuxedo and looking all-grown-UP!... Then lyrically you’ll hear a bunch of different tales of what’s happened in the last YEAR. Like because I’ve gone through a lot in the past 12 months you’ll definitely hear all about my ups and DOWNS. In fact it’s almost like a roller-coaster ride where you go from the highest high to the lowest LOW! Which is why sonically this album has so many different LEVELS to it. Like you’ll have a song that’s perfect soundtrack for the CLUBS, a song that’s a perfect soundtrack to the BEDROOM, one that’s a perfect soundtrack to HEARTACHE… You know, it just has all those different elements to it that are perfect for all those different SCENARIOS.”

How Jason’s early upbringing in Florida contributed to his musical talent coming to the fore at a young age

“Really, my only musical influence - as I was growing up - was school and television. Because I didn’t have anybody in my household that sang - or did any kind of performing - at ALL! So for me it all really came from the INSIDE. I just always had this desire to sing and perform. And with me having tons of cousins - my grandmother had 15 kids - there was always a BIRTHDAY! And so I’d be singing and dancing at every family FUNCTION! You know, it was a huge love of mine that I just continued doing for years and years. And with both my parents having good jobs - I grew up in a financially-stable, middle-class family - there was never any problem with them putting me into various performing arts schools when I was young.”

Whether he feels his early theatrical background - via lead roles in theatre productions like “Ragtime” and “Smokey Joe’s Café” - has impacted on his music overall

“Oh yes, I do think musical theatre has affected me as an artist - in the sense that there the whole storyline is explained through the SONG. You know, with musical theatre every word becomes so vivid because you have to SEE everything. And so I have really tried to translate that into my OWN songwriting as WELL, in that I always want the audience to actually see what’s going on in my songs TOO. Plus I also feel SHAKESPEARE has been a big influence on my music. Because just like with Shakespeare - where every word is perfectly placed and no word is there by chance - I do try not to have any filler lines in MY writing… So yeah, the theatre/acting side has definitely helped me a lot musically.”

The single “Want To Want Me” and album “Everything Is 4” are both out now through Warner Bros. Records

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To read more from our exclusive interview with Jason Derulo, including a look back at his late-teen years and his successful writing career for stars-of-the-day, plus current and future plans… Pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere… if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.

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