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Justin Timberlake Interview

interview title: Wanna Be Starting Somethin'

Interview Date: Unknown
Interview source: by VH1 Staff

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Gotta grow up sometime: the singer talks about leaving teen-pop behind, and offers his ideas on Christina's voice, Memphis soul, and American Idol.

Justin Timberlake made his mark in the world of teen-pop. He's been a member of both the Mickey Mouse Club and the gazillion-selling boy band 'N Sync. He's even played kissy-face with Britney Spears. But these days there's a new Justin in town; the singer is trying to ditch the bubblegum and focus on the music.

The critically celebrated Justified moves him toward that goal. The cutting edge beats
of the Neptunes and Timbaland mark the disc, and the 22-year-old has dropped the whine of "It's Gonna Be Me" in favor of a saucy falsetto reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Say goodbye to the "curly-haired cute one" character, and shake hands with the stylish master of urban pop. He may bear his chest in Rolling Stone, but he also addresses his issues in song. The hit ballad "Cry me a River," it's said, was inspired by his split with Spears.

justin timberlake picture image nsync picTimberlake is now refashioning himself for mature audiences in the company of Christina Aguilera. On their Justified & Stripped tour - arguably the summer's hottest concert ticket - he puts himself in front of a 14-piece band that serves up thumping bass for the kids and elaborate musicianship for the parents. His entertainment aim remains simple: "Kick some ass for an hour and a half."

Hopefully our swollen butts won't distract us from the new Justin - a singer rather than a trend-setter, a lyricist rather than a puppet, a musical mind rather than a pretty face. On the eve of the tour's launch, he held a press conference with journalists around the country, explaining why looks aren't everything, why Arizona shows are good for golf-loving pop stars, and how it's music, not hype, that sells records.

Has your solo experience lived up to your expectations?

Timberlake: When you look in the mirror, you say to yourself you want to kick ass, but I didn't expect it to go this well. Now I'm getting people saying, "Man, track No. 7 on the record is great." I like it when people say stuff like that because it means they're not even paying attention to the song title, they were just looking into the song. That was the goal of this record, so I guess I feel like I did it.

What challenges do you face touring as a solo performer?

JT: It's way more demanding, vocally. J.C. Chasez sang a lot of the other leads with 'N Sync, and now I'm using my voice for the whole show. There's no half-stepping.

Why did you decide to team up with Christina Aguilera?

JT: Teaming up with Aguilera was a cool way to tour. Christina and I are at similar places in our career, where we wanted to break the mold of what people looked at as teen pop. All we are looking to do is get kids in the seats and then [kick] their asses for an hour-and-a-half.

What are the most intriguing aspects of her personality?

JT: The biggest aspect of Christina is that voice. That's what got her there. I don't think it's a coincidence that she picked that single "Dirrty." She has that dirty sex appeal. At the same time, releasing "Beautiful" showed everybody why her voice is the biggest asset.

Some people may see your team-up with Christina as a slap in the face to Britney. What's your response?

JT: I can't do anything about what people speculate. I would never do anything just for spite. I choose to tour with Christina because her manager called mine and they said it would be a good idea - I thought it would be innovative. My career decisions have nothing to do with my personal life.

What can fans expect from your side of the show?

JT: A spectacle. I will always come with something that's aesthetically pleasing. At the same time, nothing really takes away from the music. The band's really full - I have a three-piece horn section and a DJ, too.

Does dancing come easy for you?

JT: I never took formal dance training. It's something I picked up from going to clubs and watching MTV, to be honest.

Why did you decide to launch the tour in Phoenix?

JT: It's just where we booked the first show, and we're doing a couple of days of rehearsal there, too. They have the Raven Golf Course out there. It's one of my top 10 courses. So I'm looking forward to playing that. It's a cool little town. And maybe I'll go get some food at Alice Cooper's restaurant!

What do you do to keep in shape on the road, both physically and mentally?

JT: Mentally I don't do a lot other than the show. I'm pretty quiet when I'm offstage, especially on a show day. On days off I like to be outside. I'll probably go play golf. It's so easy to feel like you're just a machine when you're in venues every day. But physically I train.

When JC Chasez's on tour he won't wear the same underwear twice because they get so sweaty. Do you have any similar quirks?

JT: I believe in the washer and dryer - those definitely work. J.C. has always been like that. All I request is this tea called Throat Coat. It's probably the best singer's tea you can have. I'm pretty low maintenance.

Do big concert production values mean that you'll never be able to do something like a solo acoustic tour?

JT: I don't think so. I'm doing what I can to change that. I bring the production, but you won't walk away saying that it took away from the music. I have a big 14-piece band that sounds really good. I've put all my efforts into the musical arrangements and how I want the show to sound. I also work with the choreographer on how I want it to look. But my favorite moments in the show are when I get to stand by myself and sing. It gives people an intimate piece of me.

Where did you get the soul that we hear on record?

JT: I sang in church growing up. Memphis is the blues capital of the world, we like to say. I think that's where that came from. I remember going down to Beale Street when I was young, and listening to those soulful voices come out of those bars. It's the Bible Belt, so every church choir in Memphis is a gospel choir, whether they're black, white or Mexican.

Why take an urban direction on Justified?

JT: All I try to do is just try to make R&B music. That's where I shine. I haven't particularly said "I hope this gets played on crossover urban radio or that the urban crowd embraces it." It's what I like to do.

How have your changing musical tastes influenced your solo work?

JT: My inspirations have been the same since I was 12. I love Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donnie Hathaway and Al Green. And of course, Michael Jackson and Prince and Earth Wind & Fire, too. In the past five years I've become so much more open to rock music. I enjoy it so much now more.

People think teen pop has finally breathed its last. Do you agree with that?

JT: Teen pop will never die as long as there are teens and popular music. It just takes a different head. Teen pop is whatever the kids in the suburbs are listening to. Years ago it was Nirvana, then it turned into Britney and now it's 50 Cent. I'd like to think that I was part of it somewhere along the line.

Now kids get their pop music from American Idol. Is the show watering down the pop scene?

JT: I don't think American Idol has anything to do with records. I don't think it's determining what kids are listening to. Young people like what they like. Some kids like Good Charlotte. Some kids like my stuff. Some kids like 50 Cent. Some kids like all of it. That's the beauty of where music has gone: There are so many different flavors to pick from.

Is American Idol is a good thing for pop music?

JT: I've only seen one episode. It's a great show and a great venue for someone with a lot of talent to make a name for themselves. But the real crunch time starts after the show is over and you make a record. That's when you really have to make something with substance. The show does a lot in the beginning, but so did Star Searchback in the day. It didn't assure you that you were going to sell a million records. The music has to do that.

So what will 'N Sync be like down the road?

JT: It would have to be something a little new, creative, and different. I can't make any promises on what it's going to sound like, or if we even feel confident enough to put it out. I'm sure we will.


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