Justin Bieber spoke to journalist Chris Martins in a new Billboard cover story to reflect on his YouTube days, the period when he was "close to letting fame destroy me" and this new phase of his career.

The pair attend church led by his pastor Judah Smith after sharing a meal, and Bieber's manager Scooter Braun also weighs in on Justin's rocky path to a comeback: "I’ll be frank. I failed for a year and a half. He shut himself off and went into a dark place. Every single day I tried to help him turn it around, and every single day I failed. And I tried desperately. The only person who deserves credit for this [comeback] is Justin.”

Here's 7 illuminating quotes straight from Justin in the piece — you can ready the lengthy profile for yourself over at Billboard.

Justin didn't even like some of his previous music, and sharing the honest and vulnerable Purpose makes him "so nervous": In the past I’ve recorded songs that I didn’t like, that I wouldn’t listen to, that the label was telling me to record. I’m self-expressing with this album -- I can’t skip on the moments that were dark, the moments that were happy, the ex-girlfriend stuff. It makes it real, rather than ‘Let’s call up Max Martin to write you a hit song.’ I want my music to be inspiring.”

He hasn't spoken to his mother Patti Mallette, who had a hand in forging his singing career, much in the past two years. Their relationship is “pretty nonexisting. I was distant because I was ashamed. I never wanted my mom to be disappointed in me and I knew she was. We spent some time not talking, so it takes time to rebuild that trust. She’s living in Hawaii now, so it’s hard, but getting better. She’s an amazing woman and I love her."

On those Bora Bora nude photos taken without permission, and Bette Midler's tweeted criticism of his dad's response: "This Britt Meddler [ed note: mispronunciation or shade?]...I don’t even know who that is, honestly. I wanted to immediately say ‘Who is this lady?’, but then I’m just fueling this negativity. I do feel the photo was an invasion of my privacy. I felt super violated. My dad made light of it, but I don’t think that’s sick and twisted. It was funny. Dads are going to be dads.”

Model Hailey Baldwin is just a close friend. "She's one of my best friends in the world. She's fricking awesome. She's got the sweetest soul."

On becoming famous young, and feeling for Kylie Jenner: “I want people to be more kind to young celebrities,” he says. “Like Kylie. Look at her world: She has been living on TV since she was a kid. Every time she’s looking around she sees a camera, and that’s affecting how she’s thinking and how she’s perceiving people and why she has to do certain things ... Situations that happen taint your mind, especially in this industry. Especially for girls.”

Dealing with celebrity life still has its ups and downs: "It might seem awesome from the outside, but I’m struggling[...] certain things broke my trust with people. Situations happen that taint your mind. I started going through the motions. I felt like people were judging me all the time. I came out alive. I came out swinging. But I was close to letting [fame] completely destroy me.”

And, of course, the conversation turns to his ex, Selena Gomez: “I’m proud of the woman she is today," and “I know I had a lot of play in [her new album]. I don’t know what she’s saying about me.”