The 68-year-old mega record producer and Asia’s Got Talent judge looked taciturn in a Marina Bay Sands room, surrounded by an even sterner-looking entourage. As he started to talk, however, the furrowed brows melt away to reveal a curious but intense face. Throughout the interview Foster remained so, as if nothing can take away his energy. Even after 16 Grammy awards (and 47 nominations) and countless remarkable productions with world-class, legendary musicians, the man's still sharp as ever. And not just in the world of music...
8 DAYS: You’re one of the most prolific music producers in the world, having worked with the likes of Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and Jennifer Lopez. This is also your second tour as an Asia’s Got Talent judge. Does it take a lot to impress you?
DAVID FOSTER: It always takes a lot to impress me. Even when I was in my mid-20s, it took a lot to impress me, which is why I stumbled upon people like Celine Dion. The great thing about Asia’s Got Talent is that it's not just a singing competition. I've had to really broaden my scope in terms of what I like and don't like. For example, I have learnt about dance and magic. Fortunately, I'm an amateur magician; I’m not that good but I love magic enough to tell the difference between a good magician and a bad one. With the help of Jay and Vanness [Wu from Season 1] I've learnt so much about dance, just as Jay has learnt a lot about singing through me.
How would you describe your fellow judges, Anggun and Jay Park?
Anggun is the voice of reason. Of the three of us, she’s the mother. She’s also the one who will put her arms around the contestant and make him feel good after I’ve made him feel really bad. Jay puts the edge in the show. He’s a great dancer and he brings a lot of youth to the show. You have these three diverse judges representing three generations. I think the contestants are very fortunate to have all that range of experience. No matter what's happening on the stage, there’s always at least one judge who understands exactly what the contestant is doing.
How knowledgeable are you about K-Pop?
I was told years ago about K-pop. I remember sitting on a bench in Beverly Hills and this guy came up to me and said, “This thing called K-Pop is going to be really big and you need to get in on it.” I was like, “Really? Korea? Come on.” Of course, I was wrong. This was years before ‘Gangnam Style’. K-Pop is great, obviously. It’s a phenomenon in Asia that was introduced to America through [‘Gangnam Style’], and there’s not been another song like that since. Maybe it's a one-hit wonder and K-Pop is destined to only be Asia-centred. But there'll always be another song.
You reportedly turned down an offer to perform at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January...
Trump was an acquaintance of mine before he became president. But I have to say it's hard to believe what you see on television. I don’t think we’re getting the whole story on Trump and what he’s trying to accomplish. Everybody forgets that when there’re two people running — in this case, it was Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton — half the country is going to hate whoever wins. But I do think that Trump should lay his Twitter game down. I think he wants to do a good job. I don't believe he wakes up every morning and decides to do a terrible job. The job itself is so horrible, so unbelievably hard.
What are your views on Justin Bieber?
You know, people were flaming Justin for performing ‘Despacito’ live and not remembering the lyrics [and replacing them with random words]. But so what? Come on, he doesn't speak Spanish, so give him a break. Kudos to him for agreeing to sing a remix version of the song. He's got great taste. His last album, Purpose, is amazing. I think it should have won the Grammy for Best Album. All the tracks in it are awesome. He’s a little off the rails right now, trying to deal with all the fame and success that came so fast. At least that's what I think; I don't even really know him. But the kid's got real talent.
The soundtrack album of The Bodyguard, which you produced, turns 25 this year. What are your memories of making it?
As time goes by, I feel more and more privileged to be part of The Bodyguard. We didn’t know we were making history. I remember Whitney [Houston] putting in long hours of filming every day, then coming into the studio at 10pm to record the soundtrack. At midnight, she'd collapse from exhaustion. Then she'd be up at six in the morning to film. This went on for a while and through it all, her attitude was amazing.
Asia’s Got Talent airs Thur, AXN (Singtel TV Ch 304 & StarHub Ch 511), 8.30pm.
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos
Main photo: AXN