Back in 2016, Pharrell joined the NYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music to host a masterclass with select music artists. One of students was then emerging folk artist Maggie Rogers. The session was fascinating and Pharrell’s reaction to it is now a classic:
Pharrell to Maggie Williams:
Wow. I have zero notes for that. And I’ll tell you why: you’re doing your own thing. It’s singular. It’s like when the Wu-Tang Clan came out, like no one could really judge it. You either liked it or you didn’t but you couldn’t compare it to anything else. And that is such a special quality and all of us possess that ability but you have to be willing to seek. And you have to be willing to be like real frank in your music, and frank in your choices. […] And your whole story, I can hear it in your music. I’ve never heard anyone like you before and I’ve never heard anything that sounds like that. And that’s the kind of thing that’s a drug for me. And that’s cool.
Pharrell to the entire class:
I want all you guys to know that you possess the ability to do that for yourselves. You have to be willing to use elements that are not necessarily popular. You have to be willing to play music or have music in your songs that doesn’t sound popular. […] That’s what I pride in my entire career on is fusion. To me, the Reese’s Cup is the most incredible invention of all time. And it seems very simple but think about it: chocolate on its own is amazing. […] But so is peanut butter. Peanut butter is amazing! But somehow someone said claps and one of the most amazing things happened. Two things made a third. That’s what happens when you allow different worlds to collide and find the most beautiful angle in it and screenshot that and that being the bed of your song or track. That’s where it is.
April 8, 2023