Last Friday, music and style innovator Pharrell Williams performed at the Brooklyn House of Vans in front of an intimate crowd as part of his new partnership with HTC. Recently announced as the brand ambassador for the HTC One phone—which features two front forward-facing speakers for those who put music first—Pharrell's pairing with the mobile company seems idyllic. It's a phone HTC says is "everything your phone isn't." We recently spoke with the Virginia native about his new partnership, the future of music, and what's next.
Complex: Why did becoming a brand ambassador for HTC feel like a logical move for you?
Pharrell: Well, I felt like their approach was very interesting. I felt like what really got my attention was HTC’s interest in our demographic, you know, and their approach is so cool. Who just decides they're going to dedicate a concert to their sound?
HTC just has such a different approach. They’re getting the ears of my demographic, the people whose talent resonates with me. Our demographic is starting to listen.
You mentioned their approach was cool. What does ‘cool’ mean for you?
It feels more personal, it’s not totally in your face, it’s direct to the fans. To me, that’s the best when you feel like you can see through the company when they’re doing these things. It’s what you see that keeps your attention, and makes you want to work with them as a fan. When a company is sneaking something up on you, the approach just feels disingenuous, and you watch these kids just walk away, and I felt like, here, they get the fans. I’m in to them.
So the one-on-one experience is what drew you to it?
Yeah, that’s the thing. I just felt like it was cool on a marketing level they would approach things the same way.
HTC’s new phone, the HTC One, comes with front facing speakers called Boom Sound, and is geared for music lovers. Could you tell us more about your experience with it?
The Boom Sound was like one of the craziest orientations I have ever gotten in my life. I was like ‘whoa’, you think you heard that sound before, and then you hear that sound, you know, totally cranked up, you feel the vibrating in your hands. It’s crazy.
You have your hands in a lot of different pots, what are you doing outside of music to bring art to your audiences?
The funny thing is, HTC is actually teaming up with us to celebrate BBC’s (Billionaire Boy’s Club)—which is my fashion brand—tenth year anniversary celebration, so it’s going to be a crazy celebration. Ten years of us really concentrating on the design and me collaborating with all the crazy designers that I have, and some of our guest designers as well, it’s going to be really cool.
After 10 years of BBC, what’s on the horizon?
This is like the first of many collaborations with us and HTC. I said earlier, there are a lot of companies that put out things just for the accolades, and I feel like HTC just has such a different approach. They’re getting the ears of my demographic, the people whose talent resonates with me. Our demographic is starting to listen.
How would you describe the heart of ‘our demographic’?
Other. The kid that’s not just a skateboarder, or a software developer, a surgeon, or a carpenter, they’re all of the above. That’s other. Today’s kids are not just one color or, you know, not just one specific thing, we’re many different things and that’s how we identify ourselves, by our differences. That’s kind of like the cool part, that you can be stuff like that and be considered other—what doesn’t just fit in a box. So when you can get this demographic to look at your product that way, it’s a big deal. To me, that’s what’s interesting about HTC because they’re getting our attention with things like the dual speaker on the front of the device. They’re starting to listen.
You have a major web presence with your I AM OTHER channel; what are your favorite spots to visit online?
Honestly, I’m usually on Twitter and The Huffington Post site. Also, there’s a site called the Tripatorium. It’s a website that mostly has motion picture design and CG work.
You just turned 40 a few weeks ago—happy late-birthday, by the way—what’s next for you?
For the most part man, I’m just excited about all the music that’s coming out. I’m just so excited that music is changing and people want new stuff. All those kids that are out there just want to feel music, it’s great. It’s great to see.