It’s rare the world goes more than a few months without hearing a piece of new music involving Pharrell Williams. Wether fronting N*E*R*D, collaborating with chart-topping artists (or producing them), working with The Neptunes or on solo material. Williams is a man constantly in motion. But he’s no glutton for punishment. “Nah. I’m a glutton for making people move,” he laughs. After a busy year that involved releasing N*E*R*D’s fourth album Nothing and Williams scoring the animated movie Despicable Me, he’s in a good place.
“The new stuff has been going well,” Williams says. “We’ve been playing with Gorillaz on the road so it has been fun. They are awesome – there were so many people on stage it was like Parliament psychedelic up there.” Speaking from a Miami studio, Williams reels off an equally jam-pcked calendar for 2011. “I’ve just been all over the place from project to project. Right now I’m working on lil’ Neptunes music,” he says. “And there’s another Despicable Me. We’ve also got some stuff going on with Madonna.”
He drops that last name casually, but won’t divulge further details, Williams says he learns a lot from the plethora of artists he works with. “I learn in every process,” he says. “every session I have I try to take something from and learn different things – how to make great music, how to make that music greater. “Working with Daft Punk – they’ve been our buddies for like 10 years, and watching those guys work is pretty amazing. They make great beats and it was cool to collaborate with them. I love Uffie – she’s got a great energy about her and Nelly is really sweet and super-talented.”
With his attention being called to the mixing desk in front of him, Williams announces that Australia should brace for a new sensation. “You guys gotta get ready for this artist that I have, Maxine Ashley,” he says, completely changing the conversation. “She is the next level. It is like grinding melodic pop.” With noises starting to appear down the phone line, Hit asks how The Neptunes record is going – clearly he’s double-tasking as he talks. “This new Neptunes record we’re working on right now is vicious,” he says excitedly. “It’s definitely harder – it totally demands sweat.”
So how different is making a Neptunes album compared to N*E*R*D’s recent effort? “Music is music,” he says. “But with N*E*R*D we put more of our personality into it, that’s just us being us, and with Neptunes we produce for a lot of people so we allow space for their personalities, for them to be themselves and our music sort of commandeers the direction a bit.” He won’t give a release date – “But just know, I’m in here right now,” he says, before loud beats begin bouncing down the line. “Yeahhhh,” shouts Williams, “sweat time!” Big thanks to our forum member matty.