Jason Derulo Talks Nu King Tour, AI, Haiti, That Meme and Fashion

In Europe for his “Nu King” world tour, Jason Derulo had the rare day off Friday — sort of.

Seated in an airy hotel room in Vienna, the industrious musician’s supposed down time would be spent up on stage filming at the venue for a documentary concert series that is in development. Dressed in a black baseball hat, silver chains, a black concert T-shirt and jeans, Derulo looked relaxed albeit a bit wearied. One month into his tour, being on the road is a test of endurance.

More from WWD

“It’s really tough. It’s not very human to travel like this. My show is very vigorous, high energy and taxing on the body. But it’s really rewarding because I get to see the fans up close and personal,” the multiplatinum artist said.

Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo

People might feel as though they already know him, given his collaborations with Michael Buble, Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Meghan Trainor, YoungBoy and other talent. In addition to Derulo’s 58.8 million followers on TikTok, millions have laughed at a viral meme of what appears to be him falling down The Met Gala’s red-carpeted stairs that continues to resurface, as it has in recent years. The latest version was after this month’s Oscars with “Anatomy of a Fall” actress Sandra Hüller pushing him. That never happened, nor has Derulo ever fallen down a flight of stairs. But we’ll get back to that later.

What is happening is a residency at The Voltaire at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas that gets underway in mid-May. Truth be told, “the Vegas residency is a lot easier than what I’m doing right now by the way [laughs]. This involves travel. Vegas is a 30-minute flight — that’s nothing. I’ll commute, for sure.”

Jason Derulo
The cover image of Jason Derulo’s “Nu King” album, which features 27 songs.

As for what he packed for the “Nu King” tour, glancing away, Derulo said, “As I look at seven suitcases next to me, we just bring everything. You’ve got to bring everything, because you don’t want to leave anything behind. I get stuff on-the-road as well.”

At each stop, a rider is set up with small trees, plants, rugs and plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, thanks to a team of 10 that cooks for everyone. “I’ve been trying to eat food that is alive and not just the meats,” he said.

His fashion choices are also selective, as in “one-in-ones. I’m not really wearing things that you would recognize. I can’t really have something on that somebody could say, ‘Oh, I went to this store and got that.’ I have different designers make me things. Philipp Plein has made me specific things. I also wear a lot of boutique stuff that stylists have gotten in London, Paris and Los Angeles.”

What Derulo misses most about Los Angeles is by far his toddler son Jason King, and also recording. Known for a solid work ethic, Derulo said his drive comes from having really big dreams and really high expectations. “There’s never a stopping point, because there’s never a finish line. The finish line keeps moving. It’s like you’re running a race and thinking, ‘I’m almost there. Why am I not getting closer?’”

The book he released last year — “Sing Your Name Out Loud: 15 Rules to Live Your Dream” — details that never-ending cycle that creatives churn in. Just as a gymgoer strives for their dream body, they also have to keep it, he said. “Even when I had the best body that I ever had, I still found things that made me think, ‘Damn, I need to work on this and this.’ It’s a bit of human nature, for sure, and I’m slightly more extreme than the average person.”

Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo

His nonprofit, Just for You Foundation, does work in Haiti, where Derulo has two schools. Regarding the current unrest there, the musician, whose parents are Haitian, said, “What’s going on now is really tough, so we’ll see when I can make it over there [again]. I’m not sure how much the schools are still able to operate, honestly.”

A far lighter matter is the meme of Derulo falling. Unable to think of another meme with that longevity, he finds the whole thing “hilarious. I’ve never fallen in my life. I’m not a faller — I’m too smooth.”

Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo

Asked about the recent increased public discussion about Photoshopping and deep fakes, he said, “The meme is the meme. I’m not going to put too much weight on that. It’s a joke. I’m definitely one to take a joke,” he said.

“In terms of Photoshop in general, I think Photoshop can be really dangerous. But AI is far more very dangerous, because it can take someone’s likeness and recreate it and doctor their voice. So many things can happen with that technology. That is the real concern. I’ve seen a video where a young girl was asking her parents to send some money to these guys, because she said she had been kidnapped. It was not a video of her at all.”

Asked why he is so popular on TikTok, Derulo said he has become “very free” with what he posts. While trying to figure out social media before the pandemic, Derulo promised himself that he would post at least six times a day. That quota meant having to post anything and everything, but that exercise also led to posting videos of things that happen in his life and the funny s–t that happens all the time. I just recreate it for the people to see. We all love to laugh.”

The performer often enlists his audience’s help. During a recent concert, he created a set-up by telling the audience that he was going to fake having to excuse himself to use the bathroom while singing “Spicy Margarita” and asked them to boo. After creating a TikTok video, the celebrity-centric TMZ site took the clip and headlined the “boos” factor, which made his fans jump to his defense. “But that’s the world that I live in. The social media part has been a lot of fun to just be creative within my normal day-to-day life.”

Turning more serious, Derulo said “Nu King” is by far his “most emotional, vulnerable, grown-up album. I attribute that to having grown up as a man. I have gone through a lot in my life. But I also speak differently now and emote differently. Every part of my life has grown and music is no different.”

Uncertain whether the “U + I” people would connect to it as he had in the writing process, Derulo said, “It is the greatest feeling in the world to have the audience sing that with me. When you’re writing these songs, it’s usually like a selfish kind of therapy. To have them sing that with me and take part [makes you think] ‘Damn. I’m not the only person who feels this way.’ We all go through very similar things.”

Now the man that he had always dreamed of being as a 10-year-old, Derulo said, “I am now stepping into that vision in 2024. That is a huge part of the album’s title. My son’s name is also Jason King so he’s a ‘Nu King’ as well.”

Derulo’s message to the world is, “Life is short. I would utilize my time and energy on two things — serving others and making yourself happy. Whatever it is that makes you happy — you should do that. Money will follow. The necessities will follow but do the things that you love doing. Life really will pass you by in the blink of an eye.

“My greatest gift is I really live in the present and take advantage of life. I am squeezing every f–king ounce of this thing, and I would love if everybody did the same.”

Best of WWD