Pharrell Williams isn't the literal center of the universe—that would be the sun, word to Copernicus. But the Virginia native has pull in more spheres of influence than most. Music, fashion, art, business: If it's cool and cutting edge, chances are it's in Pharrell's orbit.
We've been celebrating Pharrell's extraordinary 2013 this week with a series of stories on his various interests: catch up with our digital cover story here and the Oral History of BBC/Icecream here. P dropped much knowledge in a series of interviews we conducted with him this year, so much so that some great parts of the interview didn't make the final cut for the cover story. Read below for Williams' take on his accessory selection, his classic Vibe magazine cover with Gwen Stefani, and his thoughts on producing a full 50 Cent album.
I read somewhere that when you get dressed you never say to yourself “I’m really killing shit tonight.” You know like 98 percent of fashionable dudes say that to themselves, right?
Well, this is what I do. I do get excited about the articles, like the items and shit.
What are these chains you’re wearing now? You didn’t have them on the last time we spoke.
This is a Chanel rosary that I made myself. They make a lot of costume jewelry, like faux jewelry. So I just went in and got it made with all the real materials. This is Hoorsenbuhs, this two-finger ring. These “To Be Happy” bracelets are Lorraine Schwartz. The other four are her sister, Ofira—Ofira Jewels. And this coin chain is BVLGARI. These are real antique, vintage Roman coins. So it’s a little regal. I saw it on the director of the company and said to her, “And how might I acquire this chain?” And she says, “Oh you keep it darling.” Yeah, Mrs. Sabina Belli.
Are you more interested in bringing back someone who cooled off, or breaking new talent? Pusha told me, “I want 50 to just get in the studio with Pharrell, just let Pharrell do the whole album.”
I would love that. But, you know, he would have to see why that makes sense...for himself. That doesn’t mean it makes the ultimate sense, I mean you know, people could read this and be like,
I would love to make an album with 50 that felt like a film. Cause he’s an actor and a rapper and all these other things... I’d just be Mario Puzo. I don’t have to be Corleone.
“What?! Ew, no. Don’t fuck with Pharrell.” You know? I would love to make an album with 50 that felt like a film. 'Cause he’s an actor. He’s an actor and a rapper and all these other things. I would wanna put all those talents together and try and make a cohesive body of work that was all about him. I’d just be Mario Puzo. I don’t have to be Corleone. I don’t have to be in it at all. I could just be the air in the room, which is just the storywriter or the backdrop. Cause he’s the storywriter.
You lived in the projects in Virginia until you were 7, then you moved to the ‘burbs as a teenager, now you travel the world. Out of all those places, which one had the biggest impact on you?
All of it. Every moment...every moment.
Who do you go to for inspiration? Is it a person? A place?
It’s a feeling. I’m often inspired by what doesn’t exist. That’s my thing. And as cool as it sounds, it’s not as cool as it sounds. It’s just what it is. If it doesn’t exist, it gives me opportunity to go put something else out there that doesn’t exist. It kind of sounds all philosophical and shit, but I don’t mean it in that way. I really mean it. I like to bring new experiences into this round and to this frequency.
The mantra of the Billionaire Boys Club brand has always been "Wealth is of the heart and mind, not of the pocket." Why did you choose that tag line?
Because at the end of the day, that’s what you take with you when you go. It’s what’s in your mind and your heart. The ethereal part of your personality is what continues to build, these other things are just matter. They’ll stay, either they’ll wither away, or stay here forever. But our spirits and what they garner while they are here that’s what lasts forever. And for me, ya know I just wanted all my fans to know, wealth is of the heart and mind. You’re truly wealthy, you’re a billionaire even better when you have your education and you’re putting it to good use and exercise.
One of my favorite magazine covers of all time is the cover with you and Gwen Stefani on Vibe.
Yeah! That was a moment for me. It was me and the leader of an Orange County ska-rock-punk group. It’s Gwen and me. That’s fucking Gwen. That’s fucking Gwen Stafani. Like, ya know? “Don’t Speak.” That’s Gwen. That’s gigantic to me.
Yeah and it was Vibe. That’s awesome.
I felt the same way, when I had the skateboard in The Source. Not as big, because a skateboard can never compare to Gwen Stefani, but it’s the statement. It’s the juxtaposition and the alchemy that was allowed to be photographed for the cover that was a big deal.
You’re in a rare space, where you can collaborate with someone like Hans Zimmer and then the next night, you’re in the studio with Schoolboy Q, how do you manage?
Just remember me and Hans Zimmer. Just remember that. I can’t say anything else yet, but I’m super pumped up. And I rarely do that. I rarely tip people off, but this is Complex and Noah has always been incredibly, incredibly supportive. And has had a non-stop belief. I’m just incredibly thankful. Anything for you guys.
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