A man who can make almost anything possible, Pharrell Williams is a long-time Chanel ambassador and close friend of Lagerfeld. With 11 Grammy Awards to his name, the producer and songwriter speaks to Sorbet about overcoming the odds.
Q: What advice would you give to people trying to achieve what they think is impossible?
A: It’s important to remember that every moment you are living in three different times – the present, the past and the future. This is the future from last week. This is the past from next week and it’s also the present. The last two minutes are gone forever so what can’t you do? You can do anything because you have the present. The present is called the present for a reason – it’s a gift. That’s realization, that’s self–awareness, that’s mindfulness – you are achieving the impossible every minute. The planet spins at 67-thousand miles-per-hour in the solar system, moving at all moments. What can’t you do?
Q: What was the last album you downloaded?
A: Aretha Franklin’s gospel album, Amazing Grace.
Q: Are there any artists still on your wish list to work with?
A: Anyone? (Long pause) I don’t know, I don’t have a one–word answer for that one, there’s just so many. There’s so many.
Q: Favorite film score?
A: For me, music is like food. You need variety and content. You’re going to choose more than one, right? A film score is not like a phone, because the phone gives you options. So I know what I like, but that changes.
Q: How would your closest friends describe you in three words?
A: I have no idea. Because it’s interesting when you ask someone that question, they immediately start editing and trying to find the words that they might think are the most ideal, but that doesn’t mean that that is the reflection that your friends are going to have. So I have no idea, sorry.
Q: What was the last message you received?
A: The last one? It said “Dinner tonight at 9pm.”
Q: What one thing can we do every day to help make a change?
A: I’m not, ok, so when you say ‘saving the planet’ that sounds very loaded, and that I’m a tree–hugging, trail–mix kind of guy. And look, we need that archetype on the planet. I’m not that. What I am is - I’m trying to contribute through my own personal footprint and be more cognizant. I don’t know that I can save the planet, but as a collective body of people we could? But everyone has independent thought and everybody’s got to be on the same page. We aren’t even in the same book…
Q: So is there one thing we can do?
A: Be cognizant with everything you do. Be considerate. Mindful. Do you know how deep that is? Being mindful? It’s so important because if you’re not mindful that means you’re not self–aware. And that sounds very basic but self–awareness, man. If we all just had 10-percent more self–awareness, the world would be a better place. So being mindful is very important.
Q: Best piece of career advice anyone gave you?
A: Do what you do because you love it. And for no other reason. And everything else that comes with it will feel like a free gift.
Q: The last time you cried?
A: Listening to Aretha Franklin’s Mary, Don’t You Weep. It gets me every time. I have to fight back the tears, it’s so good. She had such an amazing connection to God. When she sings, when Aretha Franklin sings that song, among many others, there are moments in that song where one can sense and discern the universal forces. And her body and her voice were a channel for the universal forces to come through and connect. That makes me tear up, not just because the song is that good and she sings it that good, but because that tertiary effect; that connection. When she sings, it’s like when your phone has all the bars. Spiritual wifi is fully connected and you have all the bars.
Q: As an artist, does that inspire you?
A: Oh yeah, I aspire to get to that level. I’m working on it. We’ve got to work on ourselves to be better antennas and better channels, to receive and then put it out.
Q: Where’s your creative space?
A: Just my typical imagination. Isn’t that funny though? Like, is it ADD or is it imagination? Too much imagination is ADD, so what’s too much imagination?
Q: When was the last time you laughed really hard?
A: This morning. Something that one of my friends said, he’s a funny guy.
Q: Best piece of parenting advice you can give?
A: You parent to lead, not to follow. They need leadership, they need guidance, they need exposure. You don’t do things to stop the baby from crying; you do things because it’s what the baby needs.
Q: Anything you’d like to collaborate on that you haven’t yet?
A: I can’t say, sorry. Maybe the next time I see you, you’ll be like: “That’s what he was working on!”
Q: Advice you wish you’d known when you were younger?
A: Speak more languages.
Q: Advice you’d give to teenagers today?
A: Remain curious. Think about the concept of time and space and how there’s no time without space and there’s no space without time. Think about how vast the universe is and go back and question some of the things that you’re reading. See what makes sense.
Q: Favorite sorbet?
A: Well, you know I don’t eat mango at all but I looooove mango sorbet. Mango sorbet is the best. And also, have you ever had minty lemon sorbet? That’s a game-changer too. I had Sichuan pepper sorbet last night. It’s a peculiar taste, it was good.
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