Pharrell Williams x Vogue India Interview
The premise of this project is about looking to the future. What made you sign up?
When my agent Trey brought this proposal to me, I immediately started thinking about it. It falls in line with where I am and the kind of things I want to do with my life and my music. I was fascinated by its larger-than-life consideration. I realised that A) I’m not going to be here in 2117 to see what happens; B) The people causing this tumult will all be gone; C) I may as well write a postcard to them now, about how they are ruining it, instead of making it a boring call-to-action song. This project is actually very metaphorical. But life and music—and bringing the two together is what we do.
Tell us a little about ‘100 Years’. How do you ensure it’s relevant a century later?
Well, the thing is how much do we listen to music created a 100 years ago? If I knew where music would be headed even in ten years, then heck, I would play PowerBall! But yes, the song is super sarcastic. I wanted to call out all the pseudo scientists who don’t really seem to care about the ecosystem. It’s 106F in Los Angeles right now—that’s just crazy. So when you listen to it later you’ll see that it’s like a postcard saying, “Man, you really did it this time,” and then the second half of it is just me being angry and not holding anything back. I wanted to fight fire with fire.
A whole new generation will, hopefully, get to listen to this tune. What’s your advice for the children of the future?
Interestingly, I don’t think the next generation needs a message. They care about others, they are a part of the sharing economy, where it’s for the greater good. They don’t need to own a car—they’ll use Uber or Lyft. They don’t need to buy a big house—they’ll use Airbnb. The older generations were sold a version of the American Dream—picket fence, house, car—but these kids don’t follow those rules. They have a different appreciation, and they are conscious of having a more positive carbon footprint. The kids get it!
You are the
first man to front
a Chanel bag campaign and you’ve brought the house together with Adidas. What responsibility
do you think the fashion industry has towards sustainability?
I’m not a fashion icon, I’m just a grateful participant. I think anyone who is making anything should be responsible to the ecosystem. We’re headed to Mars but all seven billion people cannot afford to go; in fact, I don’t even think the numbers would be 100 million. So as it stands, at least in this generation or lifetime, there’s only one place, and the only destination we have is this.
How do you live responsibly?
I’m not a tree hugger or a granola kind of guy—I may eat an acai bowl for breakfast but that’s as far as I get! But on a more serious note, I try to do as much as I can. I am grateful for my relationship with my living space and I try to respect it, be vigilant and responsible. That’s all we can expect from people.
I have to ask you about ‘Happy’—it made you the poster child for a sentiment.
I think I’m a perpetual optimist. I happen to believe in the positive aspects of humanity, and there is such a thing called order, even when things are chaotic—there is cause and effect. Like it or not, we have a solar system, and as long as there’s universal order we’ll be okay.
So what makes you really happy?
Self-awareness—the relationship with my creator, the universe, my family, and my work, that’s what makes me happy. Not having self-awareness, that’s hell; not knowing, not being able to decide why things are the way they are, that’s the centre of confusion.
Finally, your dream collaboration?
A Wes Anderson collaboration wouldn’t be bad!