The BRIT Awards are tonight. Is it just me or are they scheduled really early this year? I seem to remember that in years past, they were held in March or April? Maybe I’m just hallucinating again. Anyway, Pharrell Williams is due to perform at the BRIT Awards tonight and he’ll also be performing at this year’s Oscars because… against all odds, Pharrell is the hands-on favorite for “Best Song”. His song “Happy” (from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack) is everywhere and Pharrell’s Mountie hat is everywhere too. So Pharrell sat down with Time Out London (you can read the full piece here) for an interview, and I ended up charmed:
Does the success of ‘Happy’ make you happy?
‘Seriously, I find myself trying to be cool about it, but I’m really like… whoa! I’ve always produced music for artists who are going through this level of success, but I just didn’t know it would be this crazy. I’m like a kid with a sweet tooth waking up in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.’
Come on, it can’t be that alien to you. You’ve already got a shelfload of Grammys.
‘Look, as a producer, I’ve always been the guy standing next to the guy, and I was happy with that. But then the universe taps you on your shoulder and you realise that there’s more in store for you. It’s kind of like “The Karate Kid”. He thinks his exercises are just for washing cars – he doesn’t realise what he’s preparing himself for. I’ve spent 20 years preparing for this without even realising.’
A lot of your recent success has been down to two songs: ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Blurred Lines’. Did you ever get sick of hearing them last summer?
‘No, I was just very thankful to all the people voting, requesting, downloading, sharing and talking about those songs. I always think it’s really funny when a person claims to be the author of their own success. They think it’s all “I, I, I”. And then when people don’t like them any more, they get all like “But my success was supposed to happen!” No it wasn’t. You forgot who gave you success. The people. The fans.’
Robin Thicke got into a spot of bother with the lyrics and video to ‘Blurred Lines’. How come you didn’t?
‘I didn’t get away with it! 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. “That man is not your maker.” Plus that treatment was written and shot by a female director, who’s a feminist.’
So, sexy videos aren’t sexist?
‘Is it sexist when you walk around in a museum and a lot of the statues have their boobs out? The women in that video weren’t doing anything sexual: they were only dancing. Just because they had their boobs out, that was “sexist”. I didn’t do anything sexually suggestive to any of those women, I wouldn’t allow it. I have respect and I know the message that I want to put out. I’m a fun guy.’
Is your new album also about having fun?
‘Yes! When we were working on it, I kept asking, “Does this feel celebratory and festive?” My muse for it was women. I love them.’
What, all of them?
‘Look, I love them, because I know their importance. If women wanted to shut down this country, economically, they could just not go to work and the UK would be finished. If they wanted to kill off our species, they’d just decide not to have babies. And there’s going to be a huge shift, a huge shift. There will be a time when women get paid as much as men. There will be a time when, like, 75 percent of our world leaders will be women. All the presidents and prime ministers. There will come a time. And I’m going to be on the right side of that shift when it happens.’
Does that mean your videos will all be PG-rated from now on?
‘Oh no. I want to support women, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make another song where girls’ behinds are everywhere.’
On to the all-important issue of millinery. Will you be wearing that hat from the Grammys at The BRIT Awards?
‘I’m a little bit of a hippy, you know? I do what feels right. I can’t really take any cool points for it. At the moment, wearing this just feels right.’
Any idea what you’re going to play at the awards ceremony?
‘We’re going to play “Happy”. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll be taking advantage of this platform I’ve been given to do something fun. That’s what matters.’
Lastly, it seems like a lot of people are searching for ‘Is Pharrell Williams a vampire?’ on Google. Are you a vampire?
‘No I am not. I’m willing to go on record as saying that I don’t drink people’s blood. How do I stay so young-looking for a 40-year-old? I wash my face.’
I don’t understand why the hat reflects his hippie sensibilities, but sure. Let’s go with that. And he IS a vampire. Forty years old and he looks mid-twenties. As for his empowered-woman speech and how women are what drives him and they are what drive the economy… sure. That’s true. But Pharrell is still going to ask them to get their asses out? Is this cognitive dissonance or can we live in a world where Pharrell is a mega-feminist who also enjoys video booty?
Photos courtesy of WENN.