When Nick Jonas croons “Close,” every woman in attendance gets goosebumps. But the American heartthrob is more than just a pretty face: He is the co-founder of Beyond Type 1, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about type 1 diabetes. When Future Now, his tour with Demi Lovato, stopped in Montreal, we jumped at the opportunity to talk about the cause. Full disclosure: We threw a few fashion and beauty questions in there too! By Carolyne Brown
Your charity has major supporters, including Sun Life Financial. Can you tell us more about the partnership?
Through many different things and different passes, I teamed up with a couple other people and co-founded this amazing new foundation: Beyond Type 1. The three main goals are to educate, to advocate and to find a cure, at some point. We find great partnerships. Sun Life’s been an amazing partner for us and teamed up with us on this tour to make a greater impact. We’re just type 1 diabetes, but there’s also type 2, and the risks are there. Sun Life’s done an amazing job. They’re so committed to helping me in my goals but also everyone’s goals in this fight against diabetes.
Thanks to Sun Life Financial, lots of young members of the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Quebec Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation got a chance to meet Nick Jonas while he was in Montreal.
When were you diagnosed with diabetes?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 13 years old. In the middle of a tour with my brothers, I noticed things were not right, and the doctor found out I was a type 1 diabetic. The fear that set in at first was very real, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to live my best life and continue to do what I love to do. Very quickly, there was an opportunity to share my story and encourage people to do what they want to do in their life, even with this disease.
What impact has the diagnosis had on your personal life?
Every minute of every single day. Any diabetic will tell you that it’s a manageable disease. There are times when it’s unpredictable and tough, but at the core it’s just about staying on top of it as much as possible. Checking as much as possible (if you have a CGM, that’s a helpful tool) and some pumps as well, which help me. But I place a lot of trust and faith in my doctors and the people I have with me on tour to know what to do in certain situations and help me through it ’cause I’m very dependant, at the end of the day. It’s a lot to carry all on your own.
How does diabetes affect you on tour?
I try to think 10 steps ahead, every day. When I’m onstage, I’ve got juice on the side of the stage in case my blood sugar goes low. Before I go onstage, I check and make sure my blood sugar’s okay, you know. If it’s too high, I know what to do in that situation. I’m kind of fully controlled; I know how to handle it now, 10 years into my diagnosis. You know, I’ve had moments that are really tough, but in the long haul of it all, it has actually been a great opportunity.
What are some inspirations behind Future Now?
We built a show that’s very sleek and sophisticated, and it’s about the music. It’s kind of the opposite to a lot of pop shows that I’ve seen. We were more inspired by people like Bruce Springsteen and his shows. I actually went to see Billy Joel before the tour started for the set design but also for the actual set list and the way he went about sharing his stories before playing a song – it was something I really wanted to bring into the show and do our own way. So maybe to create visuals that are specific to our journey and the story we want to tell and then some great moments together. There’s really not been a bad show yet, so I’ve been thrilled!
What is touring with Demi Lovato like? Is it different than being on the road with your brothers Joe and Kevin?
I’d say it’s a little bit different. I mean, we had a lot of hair back then, so maybe a similar vibe? [Chuckles] Demi’s great! She’s one of my long-time friends. We’re also business partners at the record label we started together, called Safehouse Records, so there’s a lot of care there, and building this show, we really wanted to prioritize our goals as musicians, as artists. At the core of those goals, I think it’s about showing the music.
You recently released your third studio album, Last Year Was Complicated. Tell us about it.
It’s basically the story of a year in my life. Last year was a complicated year for a few reasons. I think the biggest was a breakup that I went through: It inspired a lot of writing for the record. On top of that, transitioning from being in a group with my brothers for so many years to being on my own… There was a big learning curve there, and I had to take some time to figure out what that was going to be like. There were some challenges that came into play, but I thankfully came out on the other side on top and came out with an album I’m really proud of.
Which Canadian artists would you like to work with?
Well, Canada’s kind of killing it these days. Between Drake, Bieber and The Weeknd, it’s kind of amazing, so hats off to all of you. But I’m actually a huge fan of Shania Twain – and I know she’s from Canada, so maybe her one day. But, I mean, Drake would be great! We’ve actually talked about it in the past, about us working together, and maybe when the time’s right, we’ll do that, but, yeah, I’m excited for him and all that he’s accomplished.
Your onstage costumes were designed by Dsquared2. How would you describe your everyday look?
For me, it’s about trying to find a way to take classic pieces and put a little edge to them, with some bolder statements in there. I like a certain group of designers, and I kind of keep it tight as far as what I wear. I think it’s important to embrace new designers and show some love to some great people. Rochambeau is one that I’m really loving at the moment, and then there’s the other spectrum of things like Margiela and more classic, big fashion brands. I love fashion, and for this show, partnering with Dsquared2 was really great. They have a great vision basically coming from their runway collection and modified it a little bit to make it fit this show.
We have to ask: What is your signature scent?
[Smile] I wear 2 Man by Comme des Garçons.