Justin Timberlake Interview
interview title: Observermail preview: Justin Timberlake interview
Interview Date: Friday July 14, 2006
Interview source: Guardian unlimited
this Justin Timberlake interview
<< Back to the main Justin
Timberlake interview page
have trouble naming my songs,' says Timberlake, somewhat sheepishly, of 'SexyBack'.
It turns out that it's 'sexy back' as in the song's chorus 'I'm bringing sexy
back', rather than 'a sexy back'. 'The chorus is very James Brown-ish, call out
and repeat, like "Sex Machine",' Timberlake explains, with a little
He often breaks into song, clapping, beat-boxing, or improvising, even opera.
'I wrote it from top to bottom. "I'm bringing sexy back, yeah! I'm bringing..." It's
a very physical song, meant to provoke... sexual dance. "Sex Machine" is
the closest reference. If David Bowie were to cover "Sex Machine". "Rebel
Rebel". "Got ya mother in a whirrrrl..."'
He's off again. 'SexyBack', an urgent, pulsing track, a cocktail of soaring,
distorted vocals and heavy, electronic chords threaded together with rap, seems
to be the album's mission statement. Like many of his new songs, it is musically
complex; a fusion of rap, rock, funk, soul, gospel, new wave, opera, world
music... everything, really.
But it certainly does sexy alright: everyone's nodding their heads and mopping
their brows, and it's only 8.40am. While the futuristic element looms large
- 'the musical landscape of Tron', as someone rather lyrically describes it
- Timberlake's familiar percussive beats and high, soulful voice are all still
very much in place. 'That's the Prince influence,' he says of the vocals.
Another track, 'Sexy Ladies', is pure Prince. 'Of course I'm influenced by
him. I also grew up five minutes from Al Green, so I've been heavily influenced
by falsetto singing, the Bee Gees and Brian Wilson. I don't have a humungous
belting voice - I'll leave that to other people.' Like Tom Jones? 'Like Tom
Jones,' he smiles.
Although the song's slightly awesome lyrics - 'I'm bringing sexy back, I'll
show yo'motherfuckers where it's at' - and its meaty pumping do not make 'SexyBack'
an instant crowd-pleaser, it definitely grows on you. More immediate is the
next single, 'My Love': a brilliantly languid love ballad, prickling with dark
emotion. One of a number of expressive soul tracks - another being the Rick-Rubin-produced
'Another Song', a homage to Timberlake's favourite singer Donny Hathaway -
'My Love' is arguably the album's 'Cry Me a River'. 'It is similar. You go
back to Aaliyah's biggest record, 'Are You That Somebody' - it's similar to
that too because it's that percussive ballad,' says Timberlake, ever keen to
reinforce his love of soul, blues and the music of his home, the Deep South.
The lyrics seem very personal, too: 'There's just one thing I need from you:
say "I do".' Is any of it autobiographical?
'No,' he says, firmly. 'The line before that is "this ring here represents
my heart". It's about marriage, and love, and...' He gropes. 'It's not
specifically about marriage, but about a humble approach to love. None of it
is autobiographical, though obviously I have experience to draw from.'
Well, there's plenty to be getting on with. How different things might have
been had Justin Randall Timberlake, the only son of Lynn Harless and Randy
Timberlake, chosen the expected path of Midwestern anonymity. 'I'd have made
nothing of myself in a normal environment,' says Timberlake, who at eight was
already winning pageants. 'Now I'd have been building houses with my uncle.
I might have gone to college, but I don't know if I'd have made it through,
there's too many... women. Women, drugs and debauchery. I'd have gotten into