Sixteen-year-old Usher protégé Justin Bieber is now the biggest tween pop star in the country, with the requisite record-breaking singles (“One Time,” “One Less Lonely Girl,” “Baby”) and a shrieking mania surrounding his every appearance. That, it turns out, doesn’t necessarily mean we have anything interesting to talk to him about. With his new album, My World 2.0, in stores a few weeks ago, Bieber recently got on the phone with Vulture for an uncomfortable nine and a half minutes (by the way, his handler asked that we don’t bring up the Twitter-related arrest of his manager, Scooter Braun, as it was a “sore subject”). Seeing as Bieber is a media-relations pro, we take full responsibility for the unease you are about to read through.
We enjoyed Bieber or Die, your team up with Funny or Die. How’d that come about?
Thank you. Basically they wanted to do it for April Fools. They wanted to have me take over the site. It was just a funny joke we decided to do, and it was a lot of fun.
Have you always been cool with making fun of yourself?
You know, I think that it’s great. It’s always fun to make fun of yourself, and not take yourself too seriously. If you start taking yourself too seriously, you become a joke.
How do you handle it when people on TV or Twitter poke fun at you?
You know, I don’t really pay attention to the negativity. I always try to stay positive.
Are you already thinking about the future, and looking to people like Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson to see how you can transition from a teen star to an adult star?
I’m constantly thinking about the future. My future, my kids’ future … I don’t have kids yet, but I’m thinking in advance. And I’m living in the moment, and just, I’m always thinking about, What am I gonna do? What’s gonna help my career? I always listen to what Michael Jackson has to say, and Usher and Justin Timberlake, and how they came out in interviews, and how they were able to transition from teen stars into adult stars.
What’s your relationship like with Usher?
He’s like my big brother. We’re gonna hang out in a few hours.
Nice. What are you guys getting up to?
We might go get something to eat, or talk. I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to him in a while. We hung out yesterday for my mom’s birthday.
Recently, there was a clip of you blow-drying your hair floating around online. How comfortable are you with sharing personal footage and information like that?
That was for MTV [Diary of Justin Bieber]; we were trying to show what my life is like and coming behind the scenes. Sometimes I want to keep my private life to myself, but there are times when I want people to know what’s going on.
How do you decide what to share and what to keep private?
I have publicists and people that help me tell what’s good for me.
How much do you get to weigh in with your own ideas?
I meanl, I put my own ideas up a lot, and just try to get as much as I can up for my fans, and stuff like that.
When did the mania with your fans really start?
The mania started, I don’t know, it started about a year ago. It started getting, like, hysterical. It’s getting bigger and bigger, and hopefully it will continue to get bigger.
Was there one moment when you realized that the reaction from fans was really exploding?
I don’t, I think, I don’t know. I think it’s still exploding. I don’t know if it’s done yet. I think that it’s still growing, and we’re just having fun with it while it lasts.
What are the plans for after this album?
Plans are, just to finish up this tour, then I’m probably gonna take a little break. Not for too long, but just because I’ve been working for the past two years straight. And then we’re gonna put out another album.
Are you planning a trip for the time off?
I’ll probably just go home.
Are you still getting tutored?
I’m still getting tutored, yep, and still doing that stuff. Just staying a kid, doing stuff like that.
What’s your favorite subject?
My favorite subject? Is … probably English.
All right, I think that’s all I have for you. Thanks for taking the time out.
No problem, sir.