Pharrell speaks on reconsidering his early career in a new interview with GQ.
Pharrell has had a long and successful career, but his popularity unexpectedly peaked in the last year. As prolific as he's been behind the scenes of many hits, he really came to the forefront with hits like "Blurred Lines", "Get Lucky" and the single from his new album, "Happy".
The super-producer has taken some time to reflect on his early career. Surprisingly enough, Pharrell feels a certain disconnect with much of his pre-G I R L material, indicating that he "didn't know what happiness was" at the time. He also weighed in on his snub at the Oscars.
Read some excerpts from the interview with GQ below.
When you say that it makes me reconsider your whole catalog before G I R L. It makes me wonder if all that music is itself unhappy.
Yeah, but I didn't know what happiness was. My definition of happiness was based on what my peers quantified as happiness: boats—you know, material stuff. But then I realized I had a platform; I would meet kids, and meet girls and women who would always point out the inspirational stuff. They would always talk about those songs. I'll never forget: There was this girl that told me her brother had died, and he was a huge N.E.R.D. fan, and he got in a car crash. When they looked in the car, the song that was playing was "Run to the Sun." That scarred me—in a healing way. Because "Run to the Sun" was huge for me with my grandmother. You know, you hear the intention in that.
But that's what people would come up and talk about, those inspirational things more than anything else. Sure, sometimes it'd be like, "Yo, man, that beat on 'Drop It Like It's Hot'!" or "That 'Grindin'' beat!" or "I Just Wanna Love U!"—whatever. But mostly, people would emote about those records that had substance and purpose and intention: I could feel that. Like you just said: After you've heard this body of work, you go back and listen to the other one: It feels naked and cold and empty. So I didn't know. I didn't know what happiness was.
What do you feel like then, when you hear, say, "Grindin'" now, or when you hear "I Just Wanna Love U"? All those tremendous old songs that had a different or less inspirational kind of message.
Just a phase.
Neither good nor bad.
Yeah, no. Neither good nor bad.
You were nominated for an Oscar, but didn't win. How badly did you want it?
Well, trust me: when they read the results, my face was...frozen. But then I thought about it, and I just decided just to...let it go.
How do you feel about that song?
"Let It Go"—you just said it.
How do you feel about the song?
I thought "Happy" would've been a more interesting choice.
Is it going to be here for ten years—that song from Frozen?