Justin Bieber is opening up like never before. After a four-year hiatus from recording, the 25-year-old singer is documenting his return to the studio for a 10-part YouTube series, Justin Bieber: Seasons, and getting very candid about the creative process behind his new album, rebounding from a dark period in his life, his battle with Lyme disease, and his romance with wife Hailey Bieber.
“When I was getting started, YouTube provided me a platform and a community where I could share music, experiences and moments with my fans,” Justin said of the series when it was first announced. “It feels great to partner with YouTube for this original documentary series. I want my fans to be part of this journey.”
That journey encompasses the past nine months as Justin works on his first new album since 2015’s Purpose while the singer and those closest to him reflect on what happened after he abruptly canceled his Purpose World Tour due to depression and exhaustion.
“No one's ever grown up in the history of humanity like Justin Bieber. No one has ever been that famous worldwide in the era of social media where every year of your adolescence you were the most Googled person on the planet," says his longtime manager, Scooter Braun, who discovered the singer on YouTube in 2007, adding later: “He's taken a very long break. And in that time, he's found his wife, he's grown a lot.”
Now, Justin is ready to express himself once again. “I’m [at my] best in the studio or onstage than anywhere else,” he says, revealing that “what’s been challenging over the years, is a lot of the times when I made music, it would be for me. When the focus and the goal is about yourself, you kind of lose purpose in that. I think that the older that I get, the more I realize that I’m not utilizing my gift for the right reasons.”
“This isn’t about me, it’s about helping someone who is going through whatever they’re going through and being able to talk about that thing. I think that’s a really cool way to look at what I do,” he continues.
With renewed interest in being in the studio and on stage, the singer seems more like himself than ever before. “When you’re doing what you’re good at, you feel like who you’re supposed to be,” he adds.
“Maybe by watching this, people will kind of get a glimpse into his world,” Hailey says of the docuseries, which premiered on Jan. 27.
Here are the biggest revelations from the first four episodes of Justin Bieber: Seasons, which are now available on YouTube Premium.
The first installment sees Justin, Hailey, Scooter and others reflecting on the dark period in the singer’s life that followed the cancellation of his 2017 tour and what finally triggered his return to the studio.
“Early on in his career we’d always say, ‘Let’s go for another one. Let’s go for another one. Another hit. Another record. Another thing. Another tour.’ Before Purpose, with Journals, I didn’t want him to tour, I wanted him to get healthy. And then he got healthy and then we went on Purpose,” Scooter reveals. “And then at the end, he was tired and said, ‘Look, I need a break again.’ And he took a break. He took a very long break.”
Justin's good friend, Ryan Good, claims that during the break, it became really hard for the singer. “There was a six-month period where it was really tough for him, really dark. I saw him in a lot of ways that broke my heart,” he says.
“Starting out as a boy in front of the entire world and then transforming into a young adult, a teenager and then a young man, everybody’s had to watch him grow through every stage of life from 14, 15. And now he’s an adult,” Hailey says of her husband. “He has gone through so much in the last three years, four years since his last album came out. And he came out on the other side of some really dark times. He’s still who he is and that’s why people are drawn to him because he still has a story to tell.”
What helped him finally get to the other side, Ryan says, was when Ariana Grande invited Justin to join her onstage during her Coachella set. “Justin was going back and forth whether it was the right time or not. I think Scooter was thinking he should have this opportunity to go out onstage, so he could be reminded himself of who he is and what he does.”
Confirming that sentiment, Justin says, “When you’re doing what you’re good at, you feel like who you’re supposed to be. I’m [at my] best in the studio or onstage than anywhere else.”
“I love to see him do what he loves. I honestly feel like I’m here to cheer him on and support him. The last time around, when he was doing the Purpose album, I was around for a lot of that but definitely not as intimately. I love to see him do what he’s so good at,” Hailey says. “There’s a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of things on artists and musicians, specifically, that I think people don’t get to see because they’re not around for the full process. So me being somebody who isn’t a musician and is not involved in music that way, I have a whole newfound respect for Justin as well as other artists that just put their blood, sweat and tears into their craft.”
The second episode follows Justin in the studio as he experiments with sounds and ideas before finally landing on a direction for what he wants to record. He also opens up about his relationship with his producer and longtime collaborator, Josh Gudwin.
“Justin’s enabled my whole entire career. About 10 years we’ve been working together,” Josh says while Justin reveals that his “favorite thing about working with Josh is just that I love him as a person. I love to just sit in a room with him and chill. So the fact that I get to hang, listen to tunes, vibe, laugh -- we have a really similar sense of humor.”
When it comes to recording new music, Justin is the first to admit he’s a perfectionist and only wants the best for his upcoming album. “Am I a perfectionist? Oh yeah,” he chuckles.
“I think for me, my records have always been so polished and so perfect and everything needed to be so perfect and I feel like I literally had to worry about everything. Like, ‘Don’t touch your face that way. Don’t touch your hair. You have a stain on your shirt,’” he explains. “I really just don’t even want to make that a huge deal.”
But “after Believe, Justin started taking more control of his creative ideas. As a young artist, things were chosen for him,” Josh says, revealing what’s at stake with the new album: “Now he’s fully accountable for choices on this album. He’s in a once-in-a-lifetime spot.”
“He is such a perfectionist and he’s so good at what he does that there’s a whole different energy when Justin is in his zone and really doing his thing that I can’t really explain. But maybe by watching this, people will kind of get a glimpse into his world,” Hailey says, hoping that the series will help people understand Justin better.
“I love being part of the process. I love watching him do what he’s so good at. Even if it means laying on the couch until three, four in the morning, binge-watching TV shows and just being around, I just enjoy the energy that goes into it,” Hailey continues, adding why Kendall Jenner is seen hanging out in the studio. “We turn it into a fun process. We brought friends around and people just kind of hang. I don't know, I just feel at home wherever he is. So if he’s holed up in the studio, that feels like home to me.”
Now fully immersed in the creative process, the singer is seen recording new music and finalizing the tracks for his latest album. “Just seeing the drive and the work that goes into it, it’s a lot. It takes a lot of hard work,” Hailey says.
The episode also details Justin’s relationship with songwriter and producer Poo Bear, who co-wrote some of Justin’s biggest hits, including “Where Are Ü Now” and “What Do You Mean?”
“Him and Poo have amazing chemistry. A lot of verses they write together,” Scooter says of the collaborators.
“Poo Bear is somebody who has been in my life for a long time. I love him and respect him and think he’s a tremendous human being,” Justin says, adding: “I think he knows me and knows what I’m going through and knows my journey. He helps me articulate what I want to say better than anybody.”
Meanwhile, Poo Bear says that “Justin’s great at challenging me, creatively,” and that the two are “each other’s spirit animals.”
“Being around him and up and close with him for seven years now, he’s a sweetheart, a big-hearted individual and he just wants to be the best version of himself that he can possibly be,” he adds of Justin.
In the most revealing installment yet, Justin and Hailey open up about their marriage and what makes them perfect for each other after knowing each other for over a decade. “Since I was young, I always wanted to be married, I always wanted a family. That was always high on my list,” the singer says. “I didn’t know that would happen, so I’m really pumped about it, really happy about it. And I have the sickest chick in the game. She’s really awesome.”
In a cute flashback, Justin recalls when he and Hailey first met backstage of an early morning show appearance when she tagged along with her father, Stephen Baldwin. “She did not want to be there,” he says. “For most young girls back in the day, it was like, ‘Let’s go see Justin Bieber. Tight.’ She got there and her eyes were closed… She didn’t care at all.”
“It all happened really fast and kind of all at once,” Hailey reveals. “Him and I’ve known each other for so long that there was a part of it that didn’t feel scary but it was such a big life decision that -- it was so much emotion all at one time.”
Everyone on Justin’s team agrees: “She was kind of the girl I wanted Justin to be with,” Allison Kaye, a member of Bieber's management team, says before adding that it was a “couple of months between them getting back together and him getting engaged to her.”
“He’s the first person I ever had real feelings for. When things went south for a little bit and we went our separate ways, I just knew that no matter what the outcome was going to be, I knew that he was going to be somebody I loved for the rest of my life,” Hailey says before recalling how she reached out to her parents before getting married to Justin.
“I said this is the time you need to stop me from doing something crazy if you think this is a bad idea,” she says, despite knowing “in my heart, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Now that they’re married, Hailey has been very involved in the recording process, seen hanging out with Justin in the studio, lending support and giving her feedback. Hailey reveals that “it’s very different talking about something from the perspective of being somebody’s partner. I get to observe this really amazing part of his life and this transformation and we get to do it together. And it’s really different for me.”
“What does Hailey think of the album? Hailey loves the album,” Justin says. “I think she loves me being happy. Even if the music sucks, she’s so awesome and cares about me so much, she would just love the fact that I’m doing what I love.”
And despite having gone from celebrity kids to dating to being a married couple, they still get nervous around each other. “I think there’s always a little aspect of excitement that should be there and nerves that should be there, when you’re romantically involved with somebody, especially if it’s your person and the right person for you,” Hailey says. “He still makes me a little nervous sometimes. I blush and he makes me feel cheesy.”
Justin agrees. “Sometimes I still get nervous with her in the room. I know it’s weird. But I love her so much and I just want her to like my stuff,” he says, revealing that his new music is about Hailey. “I’m singing about her.”
But no matter what, marriage is what Justin wanted all his life. “Just the idea of stability is something I never had growing up,” he says. “And it’s something I always wanted.”