Pharrell Williams has been on the cover of Vogue India April Issue with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan where he talked about collaborations and the causes he cares about. Photos by Greg Swales. I’m convincing Pharrell to run for President. After all, the ‘woke’ hitmaker is the exact antithesis of Trump—fashionable, and vocal about climate change and women’s rights. But Pharrell isn’t interested. “I’m no role model; I’m just an advisor—that’s why as a producer, I’m able to push people in certain directions to find a uniqueness in their voice, their intentions and their purpose—that’s my job!”
No_One Ever Really Dies, his last album with N*E*R*D, was dubbed by critics as an anti-‘happy’, almost verging on protest, record. He may deny it but it’s also a work that merges his artist and activist self—he collaborated with artistes like Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar to put forth songs about gun regulation, immigrants as well as Trump. Does music then need to come with a message? “It doesn’t need to but it’s good that it does. I think everything we do should have some sort of message or intention, or else it’s just wasted energy.”
Pharrell’s always made his intentions clear—with his music as well as his projects outside. Only last year, the 45-year-old turned another leaf, becoming Dr Pharrell, an honorary title bestowed on him by NYU. He used his commencement speech at Yankee Stadium to celebrate humanities and address gender equality—“to lift up our women”, “remove imbalance” and “demand for better education.”
If you’ve ever heard Pharrell speak, you’ll know he genuinely champions women—through his music (his 2014 solo, GIRL was loosely seen as a feminist concept album) and his appearances (on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he talked about underrepresentation of female achievers). He sees gender without boundaries—his first perfume was a unisex fragrance named Girl, and last year, he made history by becoming the first man to star in a Chanel bag campaign. “I used to be scared of saying I’m a feminist because then someone would be like ‘oh then why did you have these lyrics’, but I am…because I believe in equality,” he says.