來自美國維珍尼亞洲的超級巨星Pharell Williams，早在兒時便與好友Chad Hugo組成樂隊Neptunes，同時又與另一友人Shay Harley組成另一個組合N.E.R.D.，在1990年代出道時已開始引人注目。出道至今日，他已涉足至時裝、藝術、影視界，今年甚至變身成作家，與著名出版社Rizzoli推出名為《Places & Spaces I’ve Been》的書籍，誓要在出版界大展拳腳。我們與 Skateboard P（Williams的別名）做了一次專訪。
You don’t recognize this man? That rock your under must be comfortable, dark, and soundproof. Pharrell Williams mofo! His proficiency in producing the hits is perhaps only surpassed by his prolific output. I don’t have enough appendages to list of what he has done, and done successfully. Just to let you know we were able to sit down and chat with him as he was in Hong Kong to promote his book, ‘Places and Spaces I’ve Been’, from publisher, Rizzoli.
(English continued after the Chinese)
SPITGAN – Pharell你有其他較少人知道的別名嗎？
PHARRELL – Golden Bones、Megatron。
SG – 好，我們就由Nothing開始說起。(Nothing 是N.E.R.D.近期的音樂大牒)
P – Yes sir。這張大牒當中有3首歌其實我是頗討厭的，因為我覺得像是被置在一個主要音樂廠牌經常遇到的局面──電臺的人總想找一些適合在電臺播放的歌曲。但N.E.R.D.從來不是一個會配合電臺的樂隊，我們大部分時間都是在一些音樂節或現場演出。這是一張為樂迷度身訂做，而不是去配合電臺而妥協、變得商業化的大牒。除了那3首歌，當中有很多歌曲，像《Inside the Clouds》、《Help ME》、《God Blessed Us All》、《Life As A Fish》我都十分喜歡。
SG – 他們把你迫得很緊嗎？
P – 也不是，但已經令這張大牒留下一些污點。我仍覺得那是一張很具水準的大牒。特別是《Like a Fish》，當中可以看到你們的大躍進。我們知道所有事物都是一個迴圈。這是Hippies回歸的日子，是時候去表達自我。我們看到這個日子的來臨，對於能夠成為首幾個提倡者我感到十分驕傲。
SG – 你為Neptunes創作的第一首歌曲是什麼？
P – 與Blackstreet及Teddy Riley合作的《Tonight’s the Night》，那是我們的第一首佳作。
SG – Timberland呢？
P – 我們剛做好了一些很cool的音樂，你很快可以聽到！
SG – O’ Dirty Bastard？
P – 和他合作真的有點緊張，因為他是那種難以猜測的人，我從來沒有和這種人合作過，但他在錄音室工作時真的很棒。
SG – 談談這本書吧。你之前有計劃過出這書嗎？
P – 這其實有點突然其來。我很榮幸能與Rizzoli合作，對於Ian Luna贊同我出一本關於曾經啟發過我的人的書籍我感到十分雀躍。我不想出書談及自己的事情，我只想將功勞給予那些曾經對我的事業有著一定影響的人，因為如果沒有他們我沒有可能坐在這裏，我可能只會淪為一個思想狹窄的人，他們的創意力刺激我，令我看到有很多的可能性。
SG – 書中有不少響噹噹的名字，如Anna Wintour…
P – Anna Wintour一直很支持我，當時我有一些idea都是她在飯局中向總統說起的……
SG – 你說的總統是Barack Obama？
P – 是的，她當時向Obama說Pharrell有一些非常有趣的點子…她曾經幫助過我，在2005、2006年，她在美國版《Vogue》更用了8版篇幅來報導我，她一般是不會在雜誌這樣介紹男性的，她的確幫了我很多，我真的很感激她。
SG – 你覺得這是否因為她認為你是一個充滿才華的人？
P – 我不知道她怎樣看我，只知道有點難以置信。
SG – 太空人Buzz Aldrin呢？你與他是怎樣認識的？
P – 我們在一個城市青少年的拓展計畫中相識。那時我才知道什麼是STEM，並開始與NASA合作一個關於STEM的研究計畫。與Buzz一起時很有趣，因為我經常會問一些很沒水準的問題，但他永遠不會讓我覺得有丁點兒難受，他的答案永遠都充滿娛樂性，他說的聽起來就像我們平時讀的科幻小說情節。
SG – 對，我也有讀過一些關於他的報導，聽說他曾經將太空船脫離過原來的途徑…
P – 你試想想，Stanley Kubrick於1971年拍攝《2001: A Space Odessey》，而原作者Arthur C. Clark寫的原著更要早幾年，在那段時間總統Kennedy說我們即將要上太空，Clarke就憑空想像出一個太空站，最後我們真的有了！Kubric及Clarke是想像力非常豐富的作家，和Buzz Aldrin談及他們就更肯定他們的才華了。
SG – 那你和NASA合作的又是什麼？
P – 那是一個青年拓計畫，他們請來了一些太空人去教肓這些青年關於科學、科技及數學的知識。我覺得那是應該做的事情，那真的非常棒。
SG – 與Zaha Hadid呢？
P – 首先，Zaha是一位我非常仰慕及經常留意的人，因為她將她的想像力都化為事實。我們正在做一個給貧窮人士的住屋計畫。我選擇與她合作是因為這是她從來沒有做過的事情。這個建築的設計以直線及角度為基礎，比較容易組合，但卻不是她一般會用的方法，她一直都是以弧形去設計的。她是當今最優秀的唯一一位女建築師，我對於來自伊朗的她所做的非常感激，那真的令人難以置信。
SG – 可否和我們分享一下你當年對嘻哈文化的印象？
P – 我特別對Planet Rock早期的作品有深刻印象，我記得當時我正坐在媽媽的車上，聽到一些我從未聽過的歌曲。另外，我對音樂人Parliment及Funkadelic很有共嗚，他們在當時可說是一種革命。
SG – 是什麼令你對嘻哈文化發生興趣的？是音樂、舞蹈、塗鴉，還是嘻哈文化的其他基石？
P – 其實當年在維珍尼亞所有關於嘻哈文化的都在同一時間爆發。我記得當年有一個電臺AM850，其中一位名為 Soul Ranger的DJ，他經常會播放一些很棒的old funk音樂。
SG – 你認為今日的男裝有部分是從嘻哈文化中取經嗎？
P – 我覺得嘻哈文化有很主要的影響，但其實它的影響力已經有20年了。其實今日很多事物都在不斷迴圈，所以不單止嘻哈文化，這個世界會被很多事物啟發。
SG – 除了Billionaires Boys Club之外，不久將來還會與其他品牌合作嗎？
P – I Am Other。
SG – 可否再具體介紹一下。
P – I am Other是一個集體創意概念。當中包括了電視臺、商品、T恤設計，甚至是一些充滿話題性的活動。而不久將來會有一些非常有趣的事件發生。
SG – 在香港嗎？
P – 是的…
SG – 你是否正與一些亞洲藝術家創意人合作？
P – 這正是I Am Other存在的主要目的。我們希望建立一個全球性的社團去歌頒individuality。
PHARRELL – 1, 2….3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
SPITGAN – who’s in the house?
P – Skateboard.
SG – Lets talk about ‘Nothing’.
P – Yessir. You know what? I loved the Nothing album. I hated 3 songs on there, because I felt like I was in a situation on a major label, where they were looking for something to please radio. N.E.R.D has never been a radio band. We’ve always been a festival act, and a live act. Something that a kid just sorta takes ownership of. It’s a second album that was customizable to the user, and not something that was meant to be forced down somebody’s throat commercially, through a channel like radio. That’s like the album that kinda bothers me. Even though I love tracks like, ‘Inside the Clouds’, ‘Help Me’, ‘God Blessed Us All’, ‘Life As A Fish’, there’s a lot of records that I loved, then 3 records that I hate.
SG – To me it was an amazing album. The social commentary on tracks like, ‘Like a Fish’. I thought it showed a lot of growth. Some of it was brilliant.
P – Well you know. We knew that everything is cyclical. We knew that it was time for the hippies. We knew that it was time for freedom of expression. We saw that it was coming, and I’m happy that we were one of the first to reintroduce that.
SG – Can we expect a third?
P – Um. I don’t talk about it so much.
SG – Who’s the better skater? You or Lil’ Wayne.
P – Aw I don’t know. I haven’t been on a board for years…like thoroughly been on a board. I have a skate team that’s great though.
SG – Can you share with us an early memory of Hip Hop? A formative moment?
P – My earliest years of Hip Hop? I remember when ‘Planet Rock’ came out. I remember what it felt like. I was in the back seat of my mom’s car and listening to something I never heard before. I think the closest thing I felt that was close to that was Parliment, or Funkadelic. It was just so revolutionary at the time.
SG – So it was the music that brought you in…or the dancing? Graffiti? The other cornerstones of the culture?
P – It kinda all exploded at the same time in Virginia. There was a channel called AM850, and the DJ’s name was like Soul Ranger and he used to play all the old stuff at the beginning.
SG – Menswear. Do you think menswear today has borrowed quite a bit from hip hop?
P – I think Hip Hop has had a major…has left a major fingerprint on the collective conscious. But I think as all things are cyclical, the world will continue to be inspired by many things not just Hip Hop. Hip Hop though, has been a major force for the last 20 years.
SG – Besides Billionaires Boys Club, do you have any upcoming projects with some brands?
P – I Am Other.
SG – Can you break it down a little bit?
P – I Am Other is a creative collective, and it is everything from music to film. We have a channel, merchandise, T’s and it’s happening. There’s some interesting things that will be happening here soon.
SG – In Hong Kong?
P – Yeah…
SG – ‘Cause I wanted to ask you if you are working with any asian artists…
P – That’s the whole purpose for I am Other, having a presence here, so that we can. We want to establish the global community, of individuals who celebrate individuality.
SG – What is the first track you produced and were credited for as the Neptunes?
P – The first track? Um…’Tonight’s the Night’, by Blackstreet, along with Teddy Riley. We were co-producers on that. That was probably our first proper work.
SG – What are some of your lesser know aliases?
P – I mean, Skateboard P, Golden Bones, Megatron, those are like the the usual.
SG – I heard some old old songs you did with Timbaland on the internet, do you two have plans to work together again?
P – We just did some interesting things…You’ll see. Cool Shit.
SG – Can you tell us something about recording with ODB (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)? That was something early for you guys.
P – That was like….I was scared out of my mind, because he was just so spontaneous. You know, I had never been around anyone like that before. Only in the hood. That was the kinda dude that you just never knew what it was going to be like. It was cool to watch him work in the studio.
SG – Was it a collaborative effort sonically? music wise? or did you just pass him beats…
P – No. He either liked it or he didn’t. He was very very specific.
SG – This book. When did you realize you had a book in hand? Was it always a planned project?
P – It was an opportunity that just popped up, from this company Rizzoli. So I was honored to work with them. It was cool because Ian Luna was into the idea that I didn’t want to talk about myself. I kinda wanted to make the book an ode to all the people that inspired me, which I really, really give the credit to for my career because, if I hadn’t learned what I learned I wouldn’t be here. I would be like some one track minded kid, but instead I allowed all that great creative energy to rub off, and show me so much more of what I could do, and what was possible. So the book is not about me its about those people.
SG – Some of the names in the book that jumped out at me were, Anna Wintour…
P – Mnnhmmm. Anna’s just been an incredible supportive force in my life. When I had a couple ideas it was her who told the President over a dinner…
SG – President, your referring to Barack Obama?
P – Yeah. “Pharrell, he has some really interesting ideas.” That was Anna that did that for me. Or her early interest in me. In ’05 or ’06, where she gave me 8 pages of American Vogue. She just doesn’t do that for men, you know. She’s just been an incredible supporter. I love her, and will always be thankful for that.
SG – Do you think she always saw you as someone with vast interests beyond just music?
P – I don’t know what she thinks of me. I just know its been incredible.
SG – Buzz Aldrin.
P – Yessir.
SG – Are we the only ones here?
P – I think it would be beyond ignorant. I think its just beyond a really bad guess to assume. There’s trillions of planets and to assume that we’re the only one with life is kinda crazy.
SG – How did you meet Buzz Aldrin. it seems a bit left field.
P – We met through an outreach program for inner city youth. Were I learned about STEM and began to do some work with NASA, with the STEM research program. The thing with Buzz is that I always had my super wacky questions and he never made me feel insecure about it. He always entertained, because as it turns out, reality is a bit closer to science fiction than we know.
SG – Yeah, because I’ve read some things about him and he will sometimes go off on a tangent…
P – Well think about it. Kubrick’s, ‘2001: A Space Odessey’ how far away are we from that? There is a space station, and at that time there wasn’t. ’71, I think that film was done. So if that film was done in ’71, the book must of been written a few years earlier. So right around the time that Kennedy said we were going to go to space, this guy was conceptualizing we were going to have a space station…and we do! So how far off was Kubrick, or Arthur C. Clarke, who was a prolific writer. So in talking to Buzz Aldrin, it was more of a confirmation than anything else.
SG – What are you doing with Nasa?
P – They have a program which is outreach for disenfranchised youth. Where they bring astronauts and just teach kids about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Its cool. Its something that should happen.
SG – Collaborations you have done with Zaha Hadid?
P – Well Zaha, first and foremost, is someone I adore, and look up to because she turns her imagination into fruition. We are also working on a project together for pre-fab housing. I chose her because, ‘A’, its something that she had never done before, and, ‘B’, pre-fab is based on straight lines and right angles so its easy to assemble, but she doesn’t work that way. She works with curves. So its interesting, because she is also a woman, obviously, and one of the best architects of all time. So I feel thankful that someone that comes from a place like Iraq, doing the things that she does…Its unbelievable.
SG – Do you collect any Chinese artists?
P – I am like a layman when it comes to art. I just kind of like what I like, when it comes to art. When I find something I like, I learn a lot about it. I guess that like the rash choices of an Aries. Where we are hot on something then we’re not. It either moves or it doesn’t. I could tell you all about Jeff Koons, but I couldn’t tell you all about design. I could tell you all about Takeshi Marikami, but not a lot about fine art. I couldn’t tell you about Rembrant. The only reason I remember Van Gogh’s story, is because it was interesting to me. When my curiousity is peaked, I’m pretty decent, but when its not interesting to me, that is my shortfall.
SG – Can you give us 5 songs your enjoying lately?
P – I think probably more importantly what I could tell you is that..what I think that Adele, Frank Ocean, and Kendrick Lamar have in common, is that they created their own path. They created their own paths, and that is where the world is going. Customization, doing things that feel great to you and for you. More and more people are relating to it, and that’s what’s changing music, and ultimately culture. Its what’s always changed culture.