Justin Bieber was his tour guide

Jai Waetford (above) got to meet American superstar Bieber three years ago.
Jai Waetford (above) got to meet American superstar Bieber three years ago. PHOTO: SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

Superstar Justin Bieber has something of a bad boy reputation, so some might cringe at being compared to him. Singer Jai Waetford is not only fine with being dubbed the Australian Justin Bieber, he also lists the idol as one of his inspirations.

After all, Bieber has been nothing but nice to him. He had shown his support when Waetford was competing in reality show The X Factor Australia three years ago, raving in a tweet: "Make the music you want to make Jai Waetford. God has really blessed you. I'm a fan and I haven't been impressed like this in a very long time."

The two later met in Melbourne in 2013 during Bieber's tour and the star even gave Waetford a personal tour of the concert venue. Bieber was 45 minutes late for his show as a result.

"He brought me around and introduced me to various people. He didn't have to do it, but the fact that he did, he's cool," says Waetford.

The 17-year-old, who eventually came in third in the competition, was in Singapore recently to promote his EP, Heart Miles, which was released on June 3.

Songs such as Worlds and Heart Miles draw upon his relationship with his American actress-model girlfriend Carrington Durham. Lyrics such as "While I'm getting close to midnight, you're taking pictures of the sunrise", and "Maybe one day our two hearts won't be miles away" describe the pain of caring for someone from a distance.

"We cope with it by making sure we FaceTime each other and Skype, or I fly over to meet her in the US or I fly her to Australia," he says.

Fans have been receptive to him breaking away from teeny-bopper pop and moving into electronic music territory.

Ms Diyana Amir, 18, a student at Temasek Polytechnic, says: "The songs are catchy and through the lyrics, you can see his maturity."

Waetford recently performed with British girl group Little Mix on the Australian leg of their Get Weird Tour and has also landed a role on long-running Australian soap opera, Neighbours.

While it would be all too easy for a young entertainer on the rise to get caught up in the fame game, he seems to have his head screwed on straight.

"You make sure you stay humble. Not everyone gets to do what you do, and it's easy to get caught up in that, but I'm humbled by my loved ones."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Justin Bieber was his tour guide'. Print Edition | Subscribe