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The Making Of Justin Bieber's Purpose: Growing Up, Reconnecting And Loving Yourself

GRAMMY nominees Justin Bieber, Josh Gudwin, Steve James, Randy Merrill,
and others tell the inside story of the Album Of The Year-nominated

It’s tempting to play the numbers game with Justin Bieber’s Purpose.
More than two years in the making. His fifth million-plus selling
album. Three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits, and a spot atop the Billboard
200. Certified triple platinum by the RIAA.

But beyond sheer
numbers, the album speaks to Bieber’s ability to beat the odds in an
industry where the half-life of most teen pop stars can be measured in
months rather than years.

It’s worth remembering, after all, that
Bieber was just 15 when he scored his first Top 10 record. Now an
industry veteran at the age of 22, Bieber is a top GRAMMY contender with
four nominations: Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Purpose, and Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for his No. 1 hit “Love Yourself.”

Following, key participants give the inside story behind Bieber’s Purpose.

Randy Merrill (mastering engineer): A project doesn’t make it to this level without having good songwriting, production, recording, mixing, and mastering. Purpose
feels like a very personal album for Justin. The lyrics seem to come
from his heart, expressing honest sentiments. So they don’t come across
as contrived or manufactured, just real and honest, delivered with his
signature voice.

*Skrillex (featured artist/producer):
His album is so honest to who he is right now. He’s still a pop star
making pop music, but at the same time, all the stuff I worked on with
him had a sense of honesty about it. I’m not saying he wasn’t honest
before, but when you listen to his lyrics, you can tell he is becoming
an adult.

Josh Gudwin (producer/engineer/mixer): Initially we
were just expanding on the style of music Justin was making at the time,
but during the last six months of the process things really evolved and
took shape. Every day in the studio we talked about the music and
Justin strived to improve constantly. When it was go time, the direction
set its own course naturally and we embraced that all the way.

Steve James (co-writer/producer):
As an electronic producer, I was really excited to work on more fleshed
out and rhythmic productions. But the more we sat with the song
“Purpose” — and once Justin sang it — it was obvious that it would be
best communicated stripped down, letting the lyrics and message really
speak. Ballads usually work best either as acoustic or massive anthemic
productions. And for “Purpose,” the former was the obvious choice.

Chris “Tek” O’Ryan (engineer/mixer):
The vocals for this album were really focused on a strong lead and not a
lot of background vocals like previous records. This presents the
challenge of making sure that lead vocal is “the one.” It has to be
perfect in every way — feel, emotion, timing, groove, and pitch — as
there’s not a lot of backgrounds and tricks to hide any flaws. This was
especially true for “Love Yourself,” and the result speaks for itself.

O’Ryan: I think this is the album where Justin really found
his best tonal sweet spot, and I think that came naturally from him
writing so much of it. He also was producing his own vocals, so he did
what felt natural and I think that really comes across to the audience. 

**Justin Bieber (artist): You never know what people are going to like. I’ve just got to the point where [I accept] what I feel and [go] with my gut.

Gudwin: A
lot of writing took place in the studio. Some days Justin would come in
to write by himself, and other times he collaborated with [producer
Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd]. When he really liked a fully composed song that
came in but felt there were parts lyrically or melodically that could
change to suit him better, he would rewrite them on the spot.

Tom Coyne (mastering engineer): One
thing that really helped is the fact that the vocals were so well
recorded and produced. This made it easier to pull all the songs
together into a consistent sound across the album. For a vocally driven
album such as this, it’s always important for the vocals to be
consistent throughout the album in order to tie the whole thing

Gudwin: All the way up to mixing, it wasn’t
unusual for Justin to recut certain parts. Over the course of the
project Justin’s voice reached a very stable point tonally, and his
delivery was dialed in. He was very conscious of where his voice was
sitting within the album and we worked hard to achieve consistency
throughout the entire body of work.

James: I’m
immensely grateful for this opportunity. In the third week of my first
summer in Los Angeles — when I was 17 — we wrote [“Purpose”] together.
And as a result of that, I left school and moved across the country and
have been working on music every day since. This song opened so many
doors for me.

**Bieber: I named the album Purpose. And the reason why I named it Purpose
was because for a while there I feel like I lost my purpose and I feel
like I found my purpose again. So just … that message to say no matter
how far you feel like you are away from yourself or you feel like you
don’t have your purpose or you don’t know what your purpose is, or you
feel like you lost your purpose, there’s always room to find that
purpose again.

*As told to NME

** As told to BBC Radio 1

Bill Forman is a writer and music editor for the Colorado Springs Independent and the former publications director for The Recording Academy.

Tune into the 59th GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.

Source: Bieber News

The Making Of Justin Bieber's Purpose: Growing Up, Reconnecting And Loving Yourself

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