David Foster may be a mega music producer who’s behind hits for pop royalty like Madonna and Celine Dion. But the music mogul is refreshingly candid when we meet when he was in town for a judging stint on Asia’s Got Talent (Mel C, Anggun and Vanness Wu are the other judges with him on the panel). We shoot the breeze with the star-maker, whose career spans 44 years and has a reported net worth of US$30mil, about his travel habits.
#1: He’ll show you what’s in his luggage if you ask – nicely.
“It’s so junky. Let me go get it. [Shuffles to the next room to grab his carry-on luggage.] I’m not gonna take anything out. I have my laptop, phone chargers, oregano oil and grapeseed extract and Vitamin C to stay healthy. I take Tylenol — it helps me sleep. This book, Radical, is great. It’s about a Muslim boy who grew up in London and joined a terrorist group and he realised how wrong he was and tells the story of how through rap music he became a terrorist. This is another incredible book, The Power of Now, which I’ve read but I keep it ’cos it’s so positive. Then there are magazines like Success, Time, Sports Illustrated. I bought Sports Illustrated ’cos [my stepdaughter] Gigi [Hadid] is in there.”
#2: There's also some stuff he nicked from the plane.
“I also have [in my suitcase] a teddy bear that [Singapore Airlines] gave me on the plane, and I stole the pyjamas and two decks of cards from the plane as well. What else? Extra glasses, sunglasses, Beats earphones, DVDs like Into the Woods and Bryan Adams’ new DVD, a blood pressure monitor, and keys to the house.”
#3: He'd fly private all the time if he could.
"I was in Pisa in Italy working with Andrea Bocelli and chartered a jet from Pisa to Frankfurt, Germany, so that I could fly from Frankfurt to Singapore. It cost a lot, over 10,000 euros (S$15,000). That same day, I chartered my wife a plane too, to go to from Los Angeles to Seattle to see a doctor. My extravagance is flying privately. It’s my passion and my vice. That said, I don’t have a lot of expensive cars, I don’t collect art, and I don’t have houses all over the world. Another reason why I fly privately is ’cos it’s the only true time machine. You can cut an hour and a half off the front end of your trip, and another hour off the back end of your trip. If you’re flying off at 7pm, you can leave your house at 6.30pm and by 7pm, you’re in the air. Time is money and it’s worth it to me."
#4: He’s worked with pop royalty from Madonna to Celine Dion, but still heads to the airport for cheap buys.
"[The last thing I bought for less than US$5 is] a magazine. I buy trash rags like The Enquirer and Star Magazine at the airport just to see who’s doing what."
#5: Despite his lifestyle that most of us can only wish for, he still keeps track of his spending.
“I know how much is in my bank account. I watch my money quite closely. I still sign all my own cheques and it’s a pain ’cos there’re a lot to sign — there are a lot of people who work for me. But I just don’t like the concept of someone else signing my cheques. I also don’t like people depositing money directly into my bank account. I like to feel the money. So once in a while, I’ll tell my business manager to send the cheques to me, don’t just put the money into my bank account. I want to touch it, then I’ll send it back to him. It’s a psychological thing.”