IT MIGHT BE HARD TO BELIEVE, but Pharrell Williams is 41 years old. In both quantity and quality, the musician’s CV reads like someone’s twice his age. There are the production gigs. (Among his credits is work for Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Marr and Robin Thicke.) There’s time spent as a member of The Neptunes and N.E.R.D. There’s his solo work. Even as a guest musician he has the knack of landing once-in-a-lifetime spots. (Perhaps you’ve heard Daft Punk’s ubiquitous single “Get Lucky”?)
But for all his headline-worthy accomplishments, Pharrell bounds along in conversation with the enthusiasm of a teenager. Each statement, no matter the question, is peppered with mentions of his main interests and delivered with the intensity of a well-crafted pop hook. Life is good. Unique equals special. And ladies? Yeah, he loves ’em.
Pharrell has plenty of reasons to celebrate the fairer sex these days. His sophomore album G I R L is a tribute to the women in his life—wrapped in the soulful grooves, pop hooks and funk-filled swagger of the songs of his youth. A sharp turn away from the bombastic rap of his previous solo album, 2006’s In My Mind, the sunshine-infused song cycle breezes by with such ease that it might be easy to miss all the high profile collaborators. (Timberlake, Kelly Osbourne, Timbaland, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, JoJo, Alicia Keys, Tori Kelly and Leah LaBelle, to be precise.)
The Guide recently sat down with Pharrell for a closer look at what makes up his sunny disposition. Like one of his catchy singles, the musician moved from topic to topic, filling us in on some of the music, philosophies and women that have inspired his life to date. And like one of his albums, it’s a potent blend.