Interview & Photography: Sarah J. Edwards
N*E*R*D have just released their first material together in four years, 'Squeeze Me' will appear on the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water soundtrack. Here's an excerpt from Sarah's cover story with Pharrell, Chad and Shae from Vol.2 Nø 10.
“Pharrell, you absolute pain in the arse...” These boys are tired. However, as they liven up, the antics begin – which incidentally culminates in Pharrell doing the worst ever impression of me, of all time. His voice screeching out as a high-pitched, hilariously posh, drag-style panto dame. “Pharrell, if that’s how you hear me, it’s all over!” It’s all good-natured though, as this isn’t the first time we’ve worked together, but it has been a while… I don’t even need to tell you how many successes individually and collectively these gents have had and who they’ve made successes of. But I want to tell you how we met and give you my perspective of these very individual and talented characters. I first made acquaintance with Pharrell years ago when he was a guest at the launch party of our BLAG book in NYC. It was a boiling hot June at the old Tramps club in midtown Manhattan. We subsequently ended up working together on various shoots and even DJing for him.
Sarah: Can you describe the thing that inspires you the most about Chad and Shae’s talents and their signature dance moves.
Pharrell: Signature dance move?
Sarah: Yes, imagine if you looked across a room, you’d be like, that’s Chad because that’s what he does or that’s Shae because that’s what he does. You’ve got a new one of your own though, haven’t you?
Pharrell: I do?
Sarah: Yes, it’s sort of a running man meets rude boy. Kind of like The Special’s (skanking).
Pharrell: The Specials?
Sarah: You know that group The Specials?
Pharrell: Uh, uh.
Sarah: Very much like that. You know them?
Sarah: Really? Uh oh, you don’t know The Specials?! I’ve got to get you listening to The Specials.
Pharrell: I don’t know, when we get together we always make music that’s always magic. It’s a great meeting of the minds. A meeting of no expectations, but the meeting of sheer creativity. Shae, well he had a few signature moves on stage, that were pretty intense when we started N*E*R*D. With Chad, you just don’t know. He’s just... he’s pretty inventive with the things that he does. Sometimes it looks like it’s on purpose, sometimes it looks like it might be a mistake, but he’ll repeat it and after about four or five repetitions, you realise, ‘Oh! That’s a dance.’ ...that it’s a sequence of something and he makes it look so cool. He makes it look so easy. You try to do it and ahh... Chad’s like a multi-tasker, he can do everything, he can play, dance, sing.
Pharrell: OK, here’s my question. Are you guys annoyed by the amount of ‘science’ that I talk you guys to death with from watching the news?
Chad: You’re asking us?
Chad: Do we get what?
Chad: Oh, sometimes, but it’s good to open up a forum.
Shae: You’re a walking encyclopedia. What ‘environments’ do you enjoy the most?
Pharrell: The environment I like the most is... It’s not really an environment, it’s the mental dimension you go into when you’re watching a particular television show and for me that would be Discovery. That’s the environment I like the most. I mean, it sounds all you know, nice and sweet, but it’s really true.
Sarah: I wanted to talk to you about women, because you’re obviously big fans of the ladies. I’m really interested in the male perspective of... Well, I don’t know if it’s my age or the way media is changing but, it just seems to be all about retouching and anti-aging. I was curious to find out your perspective on that, or if you even notice it and how it’s changed over the past few years? I wondered if you feel any pressure on it?
Shae: I honestly don’t see it as an issue.
Shae: I like older women. I like wrinkles. There’s something about it. It turns me on.
Sarah: [laughing] Really? Ha! I think you should do an ad, that would be so cool.
Shae: I really do. I was just talking about this the other day. There’s something about older women, I don’t know what it is, but I really have got a true fetish for them. I think it’s their experience.
Sarah: [laughing] What kind of age? Do you want to cap it, make sure people don’t get concerned?
Shae: You’ll be surprised.
Sarah: [Laughing] Argh! Pharrell, how about you? I’m not asking you about older women, by the way.
Pharrell: I think, you know, initially it’s some sort of cute aspect about a woman that gets my attention. What ultimately keeps my attention is her brain and interesting conversation, just her being more so of a conversational and educational [person.] That does it for me.
Shae: She’s talking about age.
Pharrell: I know, that’s what I’m saying.
Sarah: What is it about a woman that makes you respect them the most?
Chad: The, the, the chamber...
Sarah: [Laughing] Pah!
Chad: ... of...
Shae: The 26 Chambers?
Sarah: [Laughing] Oh God. I was curious to know if this was going to happen.
Sally: Have you got that school stuff going on again?
Sarah: Yeah, I know, it’s come back round to the beginning of the interview. OK, Pharrell Williams, what is it about women that makes you respect them the most?
Pharrell: What, about women? There are so many things, they’re responsible for our being.
To read the full feature, get the print edition which also stars Gemma Arterton, Penn Badgley, Sean Faris, Kenna, Chester French, Jamie Winstone and more
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