Pharrell is constantly finding new ways to raise his game. One of those ways is Seeing Sounds, the new N¤E¤R¤D album that drops in June. It’s been nearly four years since the Rock/Hip-Hop/Funk trio consisting of The Neptunes (Pharell & Chad Hugo) and Shay Haley last released an album. Seeing Sounds promises to deliver a new, experimental sound that has influences ranging from everything from the Discovery Channel to European electronic music. Currently touring with Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and Rihanna on the eagerly anticipated Glow In The Dark Tour. AllHipHop sat down with Pharrell the day after the tour’s first show in Seattle to see what else he is up to.
AllHipHop.com: How were the fans feeling the new material?
Pharrell Williams: It was crazy man, they were super charged. I didn’t expect that, we have had our sleeves rolled up to work and kind of convert, because we know that it’s Kanye, Lupe and Rihanna’s ticket, you know what I mean? Everybody keeps telling me that it’s kind of like all in the same world. So it’s a wonderful feeling, but we’re figuring just in case, we’re preparing to roll up our sleeves and work. And it was just nice man. We put on a couple new records and you know their faces, their energy and their hands in the air was just…a wonderful experience.
AllHipHop.com: Was it true you apologized last night for using profanity during your set?
Pharrell Williams: Yeah, yeah, yeah, because there was a five-year old girl in the front row and I didn’t see her!
AllHipHop.com: What can fans expect out of the Glow in the Dark Tour?
Pharrell Williams: Kanye’s show is incredible. Rihanna’s show is energetic and sexy. Lupe’s show is super-energetic…it’s a lot of energy man, I think we’re like all turning it into one big cause. We want to make sure this is the hottest ticket of the summer.
AllHipHop.com: Obviously touring with Kanye and Lupe along with the “US Placers” song, there a lot has been a lot of speculation in the media about this super group, C.R.S. What can you say about that?
Pharrell Williams: I can’t talk about it. There were a couple of conversations said about it, but you know, we took an oath to be quiet about it until it’s time.
AllHipHop.com: So what did you guys try to do with the new album?
Pharrell Williams: The criteria was make sure it was the soundtrack to the experience of our show. Make music that is completely conducive for the environment that you expect to be at our show.
AllHipHop.com: Explain the whole seeing sounds concept.
Pharrell Williams: It’s based on synesthesia; a tendency and condition that people have where their senses sort of gives them a little more insight than literally expected. For example, when you hear music you not only hear it in your mind but you kind of have a visual picture, usually colors are associated with synesthesia dealing with hearing.
AllHipHop.com: Is it true you guys got a little inspiration from the Discovery Channel documentary dealing with synesthesia?
Pharrell Williams: Absolutely.
AllHipHop.com: Obviously a lot of people are familiar with what you and Chad bring to the group. Not too many people know about Shay. What’s his role and what does he bring to the table?
Pharrell Williams: Well it’s pretty much like a 360 degree effort. And Shay was on this album way more than usual. He’s on “Everyone Nose”. If you considered it real estate, I only really had one verse. Like one verse and the bridge, he’s on all the choruses. And its fun because it’s a whole different aesthetic.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you choose “Everyone Nose” for the first single?
Pharrell Williams: “Everyone Nose” is the first single because we feel it was the opening to that whole ideology that we’re pushing right now. In terms of just energy and just offer that energetic experience into shows. And it’s basically a social observation on what’s going on in America’s nightlife. You know, the avocation if you will or the judgement of it. It’s just a social observation, it’s the “America, this is what’s goin’ on in your nightlife.” And the musical backup is just a fun backup, because if you are dawning on something super-serious, then people perceive it as us preaching it and we don’t want to do that.
AllHipHop.com: So it’s more of an observation instead of a moral message?
Pharrell Williams: It’s an observation. It’s not necessarily a moral message. If anything, I have a conversation with a girl in the third act of the song where she doesn’t want to hear it, she just wants to party. So the music goes back to 140 bpm.
AllHipHop.com: Are you still working with the Clipse? I know they are really pushing the Re-Up Gang, were you involved with that at all?
Pharrell Williams: Man, they are standing on their own two right now, and they’re getting a lot of impressive work done. I’m really in support of it. To see how far they’ve grown is pretty incredible.
AllHipHop.com: What is your take on this whole Hipster Rap/Hip-Hop thing that is going on?
Pharrell Williams: I mean, in music we encourage evolution period. And at the end of the day, whatever carries the torch is important, ’cause it is what it is. As long as it sounds good, I don’t care.
AllHipHop.com: Has it been tough to focus on music with all your other projects going on?
Pharrell Williams: It’s not tough at all, because I feel compelled by inspiration. I don’t really have that much of a social life, so I’m not really missing anything. I love what I do. Like making your own sneaker is not like a job, it’s a 100 percent pleasure. I consider it a privilege so I don’t abuse it. I never look at it as a job, you know designing clothes or my affiliation with Louis Vuitton and doing jewelry for them and having done the sunglasses – The Millionaire – and see how that’s taken off. That’s not a job, that’s a pleasure. And it’s amazing that I can be paid for it. So I’m very thankful.
AllHipHop.com: Since you opened the New York store and Japan store for your clothing line Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream, what are the next plans as far as retail is concerned?
Pharrell Williams: We have three stores: one in Tokyo, which is in the Harajuko section. And also one in Hong Kong on Lan Street which is next to Neighborhood. We’re very thankful. And also the one in New York in West Broadway. I feel very fortunate and we’re concentrating on just growing the brand slowly but surely. And just staying in the good graces of our fans the people who support our work. It’s a pleasure to design and get it done.
AllHipHop.com: It seems like you have accomplished nearly everything there is in this business. What keeps you motivated?
Pharrell Williams: Aww man, you always want to see different versions of things. And there will always be things that don’t exist. There will always be, like I said before, versions that you’d like to see happen, and that is what inspiration is for me. Inspiration is the lack there of. Inspirations for me. There’s other people that live under their own conditions, but for me, what works for me is like trying to bring to market a different version of something or something that doesn’t exist. And as long as we are in existence there will always be the need for something new…in a plentiful and diverse fashion.
AllHipHop.com: So you don’t see yourself being bored anytime soon?
Pharrell Williams: Aww man, it’s too much of a privilege! To get bored is to become complacent and to lose touch with the fact that we’re fortunate. That is scary to me.