VOGUE (Italy) - - LENNON #YSL15 FALL WINTER 18 YSL.COM - In­ter­view by Xer­xes Cook

Phar­rell Wil­liams has sound­trac­ked our li­ves for over two de­ca­des now, yet you would ne­ver guess from loo­king at his fa­ce. The­re we­re so­me years whe­re one in f ive songs played on the ra­dio we­re pro­du­ced by Phar­rell, thou­gh you would still strug­gle to f ind a wor­ry li­ne on his 45-year-old fo­re­head. Whe­ther it’s fron­ting a Cha­nel hand­bag cam­pai­gn, pro­du­cing the gri­mie­st of rap tracks for Clip­se, ex­hi­bi­ting his fur­ni­tu­re de­si­gns at Art Ba­sel Mia­mi, or even jud­ging The Voi­ce, pe­rhaps no-one na­vi­ga­tes the faul­tli­nes of hi­gh and low cul­tu­re, of mass and ex­clu­si­vi­ty as ef­for­tles­sly as Phar­rell. At lea­st that’s how it ap­pears from the outside loo­king in. So in an ef­fort to get a bet­ter un­der­stan­ding of what goes on i n t he po­ly­ma­th’s head, we c aught up with him over t wo days i n whi­ch Phar­rell f lew f rom Los An­ge­les to Las Ve­gas and back again to re­hear­se San­gria Wi­ne

– his new sin­gle with Ca­mil­la Ca­bel­lo – at the Bill­board Awards, wo­ke up ear­ly the next day to wat­ch Prin­ce Har­ry and Me­ghan Mar­kle mar­ry, then ha­ve his por­trait ta­ken by Bri­git­te La­com­be for this ma­ga­zi­ne, be­fo­re then f ly­ing back to Ve­gas for the Bill­board per­fo­man­ce, to di­scuss fa­shion, music, and the year whi­ch chan­ged his ou­tlook on li­fe. l’uo­mo vo­gue: What are you up to at the mo­ment? phar­rell w il­liams: Work, work, work. I ’m a t a point now whe­re I want to fo­cus on ju­st a few things and gi­ve them my de­vo­ted and un­di­vi­ded at­ten­tion. For­me,my­th­ree­pr io ri­ti es are: God-sla­sh-others, my f ami­ly, and then work. l’ u.v.Fa­the rho od ha sa­wayof re def in ing­what’ s im­por­tant in li­fe, and la­st year you wel­co­med tri­ple­ts in­to the world. What are the pro­jec­ts that ha­ve ma­de it th­rou­gh this pa­ra­digm? p.w.M usi ci­sthe­ske le ton­key­tha­thas open ed­the door to al l the­se other beau­ti­ful di­sci­pli­nes. Re­mi­xes are al­so ve­ry im­por­tant be­cau­se they gi­ve us - my­self, Chad Hu­go and Shay Ha­ley [ edi­tor’s no­te, Phar­rell’s N.E.R.D band­ma­tes] - the op­por­tu­ni­ty ton u dg epeo­pl et osay“Hey,youg ot­to know what’s going on” with the Afri­can-Ame­ri­can and La­tin dia­spo­ra in Ame­ri­ca. What’s hap­pe­ning to us, black and bro­wn, i s cra­zy. l’u.v. That’s in­te­re­sting to hear as I’m not su­re if I can re­mem­ber you using your po­si­tion to speak out on po­li­ti­cal is­sues - are you doing so now be­cau­se of Trump? p.w. Yes and no. Mo­st peo­ple don’t rea­li­se but our f ir­st sin­gle, Lap­dan­ce, was about the Bu­sh ad­mi­ni­stra­tion; about how we felt po­li­ti­cians we­re mo­re like dan­cers than they we­re po­li­ti­cians - they dan­ce around the point. You’ll no­ti­ce I said my prio­ri­ties are God-sla­sh-others, my fa­mi­ly and then work. In my opi­nion, God is wi­thin others, and the work you do for other peo­ple ju­st goes to­wards a grea­ter kar- mic debt, or cre­dit. One of the pro­jec­ts I’m dea­ling wi­th­no­wi­sbu il ding sound sta­ge­sf or film stu­dio sto co­me and work in Vir­gi­nia Bea­ch, Vir­gi­nia, whe­re I’m f rom - I got­ta gi­ve back. l’u.v. You re­cen­tly pro­du­ced the Netf lix do­cu­men­ta­ries Hid­den Fi­gu­res and Ro­xan­ne. Why ha­ve you cho­sen to work mo­re wi­thin this me­dium? p.w. As a mu­si­cian, I love to tell sto­ries, so I wouldn’t c al li­ta tran­si­ti on­but mo­re o fa­bro aden in gof means and re­sour­ces to tell sto­ries. Fox bought our mu­si­cal fo­ra film cal­le dA­tlan­tis- Atlan­ti si­sthe na­me of t he hou­sing pro­jec­ts I g rew up i n. Whi­le the sto­ry isn’t about my li­fe - it’s about tee­na­gers in and around 1977; I was born in 1973 - it’s writ­ten with de­tails of how the nei­gh­bou­rhood felt to me as a child. That’s one of t he rea­sons why we want the sound­sta­ges to be in Vir­gi­nia, as when we did

Hid­den Fi­gu­res, a film about th­ree Afri­can-Ame­ri­can wo­men ma­the­ma­ti­cians who wor­ked in Hamp­ton Roads, whe­re I’m from, we had to shoot that do­wn in Atlan­ta.The sound sta­ge s are prio­ri­tyf or­me. I know the kind of jobs they will crea­te; the kind of eco­no­mic tra­jec­to­ry it can ha­ve on my ci­ty and the nei­gh­bou­ring ones. l’u.v. I saw this ama­zing pho­to­gra­ph of you at the Ho­li fe­sti­val in In­dia co­ve­red with pa­stel co­lours on the street. The­re was so­me­thing about it that real­ly s ee­med t o cap­tu­re your e ssen­ce - or at l ea­st your ama­zing way with co­lour. What we­re you doing the­re? p.w. Adi­das brought me the­re, and I had one of the mo­st ama­zing ti­mes. That ma­ha­ri­shi tri­bal music is in­cre­di­ble! I ju­st could not bel ie­ve the rhy­thms, the f re­quen­cy t hat t hey s ing i n a nd t he no­tes t hat they choo­se. The no­te pro­gres­sions we­re so mind­blo­wing, I could ha­ve stayed the­re for days. And as you re­fe­ren­ce, the co­lours - co­lour is my fa­vou­ri­te thing; yel­low is my fa­vou­ri­te co­lour. And all of that co­lour in the air and on peo­ple, all li­ste­ning to this mu­si­ca ton ce-it­was­sur real. l’u.v. When I in­ter­viewed you l ast, t en years ago, you told me about your ex­pe­rien­ces of sy­ne­sthe­sia and seeing sounds. You do­wn­played it, as if you didn’t want to at­tri­bu­te your t alent to a su­per-hu­man po­wer. But I bring it up again as it seems l ike eve­ry­thing you do ju­st co­mes across as being so ef­for­tless… p.w. The­re’s loads of work. What you per­cei­ve to be as ea­si­ness is mo­re about the en­joy­ment of doing it, and the gra­ti­tu­de in doing it. I ju­st can’t ac­cept it in su­ch lau­da­to­ry lan­gua­ge to­wards my­self as the­re are so ma­ny peo­ple i nvol­ved. l’ u.v.Doy­ou­fe el li­key­ou’ re in ac on stan­ts ta­te of flow,wh ere it do esn’ tfe el li­kework? p.w. Anyo­ne can get in­to a flow. That flow you are re­fer­ring to is when lear­ning be­co­mes se­cond na­tu­re, and you al­low your na­tu­ral pro­pen­si­ties to ta­ke the reins. It al­lo­ws your mind to al­low other ima­gi­na­tions in at the sa­me ti­me, and that’s when it be­co­mes real­ly ma­gi­cal. Ob­viou­sly, on a gran­dio­se le­vel, it’s like the uni­ver­se has con­spi­red to gi­ve me all this. But I don’t ca­re who you are, if we put you on Mars,

you can­not do great things on your own. That he­lio­cen­tric at­ti­tu­de - that’s not what it’s about bro. l’u.v. We l ive in an ego- do­mi­na­ted world. The Bea­tles vi­si­ted In­dia in the Six­ties in sear­ch of en­lighten­ment, and one of the things they lear­ned was to dis­sol­ve the ego to bet­ter un­der­stand crea­tion and the in­ter­con­nec­ti­vi­ty of li­fe. How ha­ve you rea­ched the­se con­clu­sions? p.w.It’ spro­ba­bly be ens in ce 2013 for­me.That was the year whe­re I saw ma­ny things that I ne­ver thought I would see. l’u.v. You re­lea­sed Blur­red Li­nes and Hap­py in 2013 - that was a real­ly big year. What d id you see? p.w. A bun­ch of t hings… Be­cau­se I’m a pro­du­cer, I’ve al­ways stood to the right or the left of the sin­ger or the rap­per, but all of a sud­den peo­ple we­re loo­king at me like I was an ar­ti­st. That le­vel of ele­va­tion, wi­thout ever asking for it, ju­st hum­bled me. I then rea­li­sed that my l ife’s tra­jec­to­ry, from my poin­tof-view, was li­te­ral­ly that - my point-of-view, and the­re we­re other poin­ts-of-view that I had ne­ver even con­si­de­red that we­re on the other si­de of that pon­de­ran­ce. Ju­st as mu­ch as I say don’t wait for the stars to ali­gn, a hu­ge por­tion of that is whe­ther the uni­ver­se works with you to do it. l’u.v. A lot of peo­ple to­day learn about their pla­ce in the co­smos th­rou­gh ex­pe­rien­ces with plant me­di­ci­nes. Ha­ve you t ried ex­pe­ri­men­ting with any? p.w. I haven’t. But the things you read about sha­ma­nic ex­pe­rien­ces, is what that year did to me. One day, that year, the uni­ver­se tur­ned my point- of­view i nsi­de out l ike a s ock, and my s pi­rit f ain­ted. When I was brought back, I was tea­ry-eyed, and I had to then go on Oprah. We shot that [ edi­tor’s no­te Phar­rell­br ok e do­wn in tear­saf­ter Op ra­h­screen ed vi­deos peo­ple had ma­de a round t he world of t hem sin­ging ‘Hap­py’] on my bir­th­day. So it’s l ike, what do you know? We don’t know any­thing, so you should spend the re­st of your l ife being gra­te­ful, sha­ring your ex­pe­rien­ces and hel­ping others to see tha­tlightt ha tis­so­brightand so beau ti fu land so in­spi­ring. A l l I k now i s t he­re’s s ome­thing b ig­ger and grea­ter that a lways was, is, and a lways will be. That’s the uni­ver­se. l’u.v. You’re being ve­ry hum­ble, but you ha­ve been ahead of the cur­ve in ma­ny of the f ields you’ve wor­ked in. The street­wear la­bels you laun­ched with Ni­go - Bil­lio­nai­re Boys Club and Ice Cream - and col­la­bo­ra­tions with Ta­ka­shi Mu­ra­ka­mi, for exam­ple, could be re­gar­ded as pa­ving the way for the li­kes of Vir­gil Abloh to­day to ope­ra­te across hi­gh and low cul­tu­re on the le­vel he does. p.w.F or­me, Ijust­think go odis go od; it doe­sn’t mat­ter if it’s hi­gh-end or eve­ry day. Co­ming out of the1990’ s, Se anComb­sbr ok ed own­thewall­sf or us. Puf fy was the f ir­st to ha­ve the li­kes of Do­na­tel­la Ver­sa­ce ac­cept him as a tru­ly for­mi­da­ble for­ce. What he did with No­to­rious B.I.G. and the who­le B ad Boyb rand, an­d­him­wea ring Ver­sa­ce all­the ti­me - he ope­ned a lot of doors that we­re con­si­de­red to be on­ly for the stuf fy hi­gh-end world. He kind of hu­ma­ni­sed it for eve­ry­bo­dy el­se who couldn’t af ford it, and rai­sed the aspi­ra­tio­nal bar. I wouldn’t know about Cha­nel - even thou­gh I was one of the­first­du de­sto start­wea ring it-ifit­we­ren’ tf or Puf fy and Jay-Z. They we­re knoc­king doors do­wn in cra­zy ways. l’u.v. You of­ten wear a wo­men’s Cha­nel jac­ket, ac­ces­so­ri­sed with long pearl nec­kla­ces… p.w. And that is lar­ge­ly be­cau­se Big­gie used to talk ab out it.You­would se eMa­ryJ.Bli­gewea ring Cha­nel glas­ses - that’s when I thought to my­self, man, I’m going to f ind a cou­ple of items that I can wear. So that’s what got me in it, and what got their at­ten­tion. l’u.v. You re­cen­tly cu­ra­ted a playlist for Cha­nel’s Ap­ple Music chan­nel - how would you de­scri­be your re­la­tion­ship to Karl La­ger­feld? What do you guys ad mi­re i no­ne ano­ther? p.w. Karl for me is the real thing. I’ve wat­ched this man sket­ch what I would be wea­ring on the ru­n­way, and a cou­ple of mon­ths la­ter it was do­ne, and it’s like woah! And he’s been doing it for li­te­ral­ly over 50 years.I’ mjustsog ra­te fult ha tI get­to­wor­k­wi­th him and see how his mind works, and the things that he co­mes up with. l’u.v. Your on­going col­la­bo­ra­tion with G-Star Raw be­gan in 2015 when you got them to ma­ke a pair of jeans from Bio­nic Yarn, the re­cy­cled pla­stic tex­ti­les com­pa­ny you’ve in­ve­sted in. Do you think Cha­nel would be open to using tex­ti­les ma­de from re­cy­cled pla­stic? p.w. G-Star has been the num­ber one fo­cus for Bio­nic Yarn. I can’t get i nto what we’re wor­king on now with Cha­nel other than to say it’s su­per lu­xu­ry and they are in­cre­di­bly sup­por­ti­ve of the ef fort. I’m ju­st gra­te­ful that the brands that we ha­ve been tal­king to over the years are now ma­king the en­vi­ron­ment and the oceans a ve­ry se­rious, sin­gu­lar fo­cus. The pla­net is 85 % wa­ter; peo­ple don’t rea­li­se that. I’m ju­st in­to lif­ting others as the­re’s so mu­ch di­vi­si­ve­ness out the­re right now. If you look at any of­the­mes­sag es on­mys ho es or cl othes,you’ ll se e po­si­ti­ve aff ir­ma­tions. Usual­ly, they’re ju­st one word that ma­kes you feel a cer­tain way - ele­va­ted. l’u.v. You’ve been roc­king a bright pink Hu­man Ma­de hoo­die and Muay Thai shor t s re­cent l y. What’s the sto­ry be­hind the brand? p.w. I’m al­ways wea­ring Hu­man Ma­de and Adi­das Hue. Hu­man Ma­de is a joint pro­ject with Ni­go. And Hue, by the way, stands for Heal­th Ul­ti­ma­tum, be cau­sey­ou­can lie­to any on ebu­ty­ou­can’ t lie­to the per­son in the mir­ror. Eve­ry day you wa­ke up in the mir­ror you ha­ve to ask your­self, did I let you do­wn? Am I ea­ting well? Am I ta­king ca­re of you? Eve­ry ti­me you look in the mir­ror - that’s a true heal­th ul­ti­ma­tum. l’u.v. You’ve been ma­king music for over 25 years now, how would you l ike to be re­mem­be­red? p.w. As a pu­blic ser­vant.

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