PAPER: I’m curious about your relationship with [Bathing Ape designer/music producer] Nigo, who I feel is like the Japanese Warhol. In Japan, in terms of the crossover between commercial projects and high-end art, there are fewer boundaries. How did you get into what he was doing with the [clothing and shoe lines] Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream?
Pharrell Williams: Well, he basically just gave me a shot. I came to his studio, he showed me some of his stuff, and I told him I wanted this, this and this. He told me to take it. I wore a lot of it, and finally he was like, “Hey, you wanna do your own line?” I was like, “Hell yeah,” and so the rest was history.
On what kind of music he finds exciting: “There’s a lot of great music out there, but I always draw a blank when people ask me about that. I just like when people are unafraid to just go and take music into different directions. The one thing I don’t like is when you turn on the radio and it sounds like one three-hour-long song.”
On not letting others dictate his creative side projects: “You just have to do what you really feel, whether it’s some really obscure or super-pop thing, you just have to make sure in the end that shit is tasteful. Nike is as pop as can be, but they do it tastefully. Apple is as pop as can be, but they do it tastefully. The Whopper is as pop as can be, but that s— is tasteful.”
On whether he included a can of Pepsi in a sculpture collaboration he did with Takashi Murakami because he has an endorsement deal with them: “No, no, I grew up on Pepsi. My mom and dad drink it. But other times when we’re in countries where there’s only Coke, I drink that, too.”
On working with Miami design duo FriendsWithYou on commercial art projects: “We can’t allow the pop and commercial worlds to go to s—. We have a responsibility as artists on many different levels to change the way people see the world.”