PHAR­RELL WIL­LIAMS

MU­SI­CIAN, STYLE ICON, AGE­LESS (BUT 41)

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - THIS -

My mom was a teacher and my dad was a handy­man and they taught me how to do and to give. I grew up in Vir­ginia Beach: it’s a naval com­mu­nity, and it’s one of the rea­sons I saw no such thing as race. Dif­fer­ent faces con­stantly sur­rounded me and it in­flu­enced my base as an artist. Mu­sic was al­ways the first con­nec­tion. Like with my writ­ing part­ner I fo­cused on char­ac­ter­is­tics; mu­sic says it all, it’s uni­ver­sal. I now see my ed­u­ca­tion was the world and I will al­ways try and con­nect people. The ca­reer that people have given me and sup­ported has al­lowed me cre­ative free­dom and li­cence – and the en­cour­age­ment to con­tinue to just sort of mix things. People have al­lowed me to do that – they’ve re­spected my choice of want­ing to be like, a lit­tle, you know, a baby al­chemist, and just try­ing to mix dif­fer­ent cul­tures to­gether and things that I think are in­ter­est­ing. From the start,I chased my cu­riosi­ties. I had a vi­sion. I’d say, ‘It should be like this!’ Or ‘We have to do it like that.’ When I was young, I thought I knew ev­ery­thing. Now, I’m not sure if I know any­thing. I love vi­sions. It sounds odd, but I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self to be one of the char­ac­ters in a Wes An­der­son movie. For a while, I would dress like one of his people: I would wear Wal­labees and tan suits. And, like Ja­son Schwartz­man in Rush­more, in my head I thought I was re­spon­si­ble for all the cul­ture in my school in Vir­ginia Beach. When Bill Mur­ray takes off run­ning for no rea­son in that film … I see my­self in that run. I got a re­ally lucky break but I worked hard. When I was in high school, pro­ducer Teddy Ri­ley, who worked with Janet Jack­son and Brit­ney Spears, set up his stu­dio five min­utes away from my school, and as a young mu­si­cian, it was kind of like telling

‘My goal is

al­ways clas­sic with a kick, a look or sound that you’ll

re­call’

me that Je­sus, ET and Elvis are go­ing to walk in at any mo­ment! It was that in­cred­i­ble – just the big­gest, luck­i­est thing that could have hap­pened in my life. I have the same phi­los­o­phy in mu­sic as I do with ev­ery­thing else, in­clud­ing get­ting dressed. My goal is al­ways clas­sic with a kick, a look or sound that you’ll re­call com­bined with some­thing in­vented that you wouldn’t be able to for­get. I love a good hat. I thought my Grammy [Awards] hat was spe­cial. I mean, Vivi­enne West­wood, one of the most dy­namic cre­ative minds, de­signed it. I bought it to add some fun and then I saw it in the me­dia every­where – it brought hap­pi­ness and so I de­cided to stick with it [for a while]. I fo­cused on the in­ter­sec­tion of mu­sic and fash­ion. I feel good about the op­por­tu­ni­ties I have had. Marc Ja­cobs and Louis Vuit­ton, all these art worlds, are the same to me, and ex­pres­sion in fash­ion is the first lan­guage we choose to speak. You wake up and get dressed and it says some­thing. It’s al­ways about ex­press­ing what you feel. I know the idea is a cliché but there is method in the mad­ness: try wear­ing what you re­ally like for a few days and people will say, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ Ad­ver­sity and in­di­vid­u­al­ity are key to suc­cess. I learn from my wife and child. My wife, He­len, and I had a re­ally dif­fi­cult start. When I met her, I was all over the place, do­ing all the things a man in the mu­sic in­dus­try does (or says he does) but I made a de­ci­sion and thought to my­self, I am a man with two feet, two hands and a beau­ti­ful, cre­ative wife who loves me and I should be grate­ful. She gave me one of the most beau­ti­ful gifts – our son, Rocket, who teaches me new things ev­ery day. Be­ing a fa­ther can knock per­spec­tive right into your face. Mu­sic will al­ways be my first love and even my own mu­sic is much big­ger than me. But one thing I’ve learnt is that this life is a movie and I’m a co-cre­ator. It’s a big movie, and there’s a lot of cre­ativ­ity go­ing on.

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