We’re here to discuss his new fragrance, Someday. It’s a female scent packaged in a pretty bottle and girls everywhere have been queuing to buy it. So far, so celebrity. But here’s the difference: $2 from every 100ml bottle sold in Australia goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (the scent’s distributor, Escentials Brands, has also donated $50,000 to the organisation), with the remaining net profits going to one of the 20 international charities Bieber is associated with.
“I’m so blessed to be in this position,” he says. “With everything I do, I try to give back.”
Most of the projects the 18-year-old singer donates to are aimed at children, with a focus on enabling underprivileged kids to get ahead.“I love the fact young people can help other young people,” he says. “I grew up without a lot of money. There are kids around the world who don’t have the chance to go to school. I want to be able to help them, you know?”
His own education was completed on the road, in between touring, recording and fending off fans. “I just finished high school,” he reveals. “I passed my test – I’m free! It was hard doing school and work every day.”
Despite his success in the music industry, Bieber was driven to finish his education by his mother. “That was something my mom really wanted me to do, so I had to do it for her,” he adds. “I mean, this kind of lifestyle has given me a different perspective on life. I’ve been able to travel the world. At school, usually you have to do a lot of writing and reading. I’m really not into that stuff. I like to be out there.”
Bieber’s latest single, ‘Boyfriend’, was released in March and his album, Believe, will be out in June. It features Kanye West and Drake, and has been touted as having a more grown-up sound. “Yeah, what’s so important about this album is showing I’m growing up but I’m also not losing my fans,” he says. “My fans are growing with me and that’s why I think it’s very special.”
He’s previously talked about how his lyrics allow him to say things he doesn’t publicly comment on. I suspect this is a veiled reference to 20-year-old Mariah Yeater who, late last year, claimed Bieber was the father of her baby, until lawyers became involved and she dropped the paternity suit.
“There are people who say negative things,” he admits. “There are things I want to get off my chest that I haven’t been able to say. In interviews, I’m always held back, because I can’t say the wrong thing.”
I put it to him that it must be difficult to constantly self-censor.“I mean, it can be frustrating at times but, you know, you have to be the bigger person and not let things get under your skin.”
That’s a big weight for a teenager to carry but, even so, he’s not sure he could go back to being ‘normal’.“You know, the grass is always greener,”he says with a laugh.“If I was in Canada, I’d be wishing I was here doing all this stuff. I’m really happy to be where I am and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
One person who understands how it feels to live in the world of teenage superstardom is Bieber’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Disney starlet Selena Gomez. The couple met through their managers and have been dating for almost 18 months. Initially, Gomez faced the wrath of the Beliebers, although now most fan forums admonish the haters, pleading, “If you’re a real fan, you’ll want Justin to be happy.” I suggest it must be hard having to seek approval from millions of strangers about your first serious girlfriend.
“I don’t hide it, but I don’t go in anybody’s face,” he says with a sigh.“What I do in my home or in my own time is my personal life, so I don’t give too much of that away, but I also don’t hide it, you know?”
Bieber admits the fact he and Gomez lead similar lives, with heavy workloads and lots of international travel, is central to their relationship. “Yeah, that’s part of the reason we get on so well. But as I said, I like to keep that stuff private.”
And perhaps he has a point. When you create headlines worldwide just by cutting your hair, as he did last year when he changed his trademark side-swept fringe to a shorter, spikier do, maybe you have to be wary about what you divulge.
“Here’s the thing – I’m my own person,”he says.“I don’t make my decisions based around what people are going to think about me; I make them based on what I want to do and who I think I want to be. If none of this was happening, if there were no cameras around me, that’s the kind of person I’d want to be – a good person.”