With several awards coming his way for his collaboration with French Electronic music duo Daft Punk for their hit album, Random Access Memories, and his solo hit Happy, topping the charts in several countries, musician Pharrell Williams echoes the sentiment of his famous song. He speaks to Dhara Vora about not winning the Oscar, his latest solo album GIRL, and his love for the buffalo hat
Q. You were a part of two of the biggest hits last year — Get Lucky (Daft Punk) and Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke). However, your solo song, Happy, didn’t bring in an Oscar. Were you disappointed?
A. There is no way that I am disappointed on losing out! Happy has been topping all music charts! It’s been heard across 175 countries. It’s No 1 in 60 countries. That feels great. Working on Get Lucky and Blurred Lines was incredible. I’ve learned a lot from them.
Pharrell Williams performing at the Academy Awards ceremony held last month. Pics/AFP
Q. Blurred Lines received criticism for its lyrics. What do you feel about the track?
A. There were lots of women who wanted to understand what we meant by those lyrics. But the two lines go: ‘You don’t need no papers, that man is not your maker’. Boom! Lyrically, you’re done: there’s nothing else to talk about. Plus, that treatment was written and shot by a female director, who’s a feminist. I want to support women, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make another song where girls’ behinds are everywhere.
Q. At the end, you’ve said that your album GIRL is an ode to women...
A. I have all types of fans in terms of demographics, but women have distinctively been a strong force and huge inspiration. Essentially, they’re my bosses. One cannot argue that they have paid for everything I have. They’ve been so good to me and consistent. I’m totally imperfect but they have never left my side.
Q. How different is it from your first album that came out quite a few years back?
A. GIRL is a bright, smooth demonstration of musical munificence that features a diverse cast of some of my favourite artistes. Largely, I have taken inspiration from my music and myself. I wrote the songs of In My Mind (his previous album) out of ego. Talking about the money I was making and the by-products of living that lifestyle. There was no purpose. I was so under the wrong impression. It was the universe saying, ‘Look, you have a voice; you have an opportunity. What are you going to do with this?’ After In My Mind failed, I decided that the solo-artist path was not for me. And then, in the spring of last year, I got a call from Daft Punk’s label.
Q. How did your work with Daft Punk happen?
A. When they got me into the studio, that track was done and they just asked me to write on it. I think I wrote it in an hour, but then we did a bunch of takes so they got exactly what they needed. Those guys are perfectionists.
Q. Did you always feel Happy would become this big a hit?
A. Seriously, I find myself trying to be cool about it, but I’m really like… whoa! I’ve always produced for artistes going through this level of success, I didn’t know it would be this crazy. I’m like a kid with a sweet tooth waking up in Willy Wonka’s Factory.
“My attire is about expressing myself. The hat was designer Vivienne Westwood’s ode to Malcolm McClaren. Hip-Hop was just sort of, showing its face to the world in the 1980s and penetrating all of the demographics. She was there very early on with McClaren and, the Buffalo Stance, Buffalo Gals, and, other songs were huge all the around the world.”
GIRL, Pharrell Williams, Sony Music, `499, available at leading music stores.
Grammy glory for Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams accepting one of the many Grammy awards he received with Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers