Pharrell Williams is a songwriter, performer, producer and multi-instrumentalist and although his work may not be loved by all, it’s hugely popular and his many collaborations mean his work is diverse. He’s probably best known for the hit ‘Happy’ but his work pre-dates this and since the success of that song, he continues to release and produce innovative sounds with his music. Hence Pharrell being asked to be artist in residence to celebrate the 50th anniversary of New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. As part of his residency, Pharrell held a masterclass which I recently watched online and the advice he offered the music students, in my opinion, transcends advice for musicians.
Professor Bob Powers leading the class, asked Pharrell about his creative process and why his music turns out so different with Pharrell explaining he likes to go against the grain – he’s ‘the trout that swims upstream’ because he never really likes going with the flow, doing what everyone else is doing; he puts this a great way by saying; “I’ve never really been interested in being part of the camouflage.” He went on to say it’s about being unique – trying new things that no-one’s thought of – putting two complete opposites together to make a third…
Pharrell acknowledged his ideas don’t always work but in my opinion, at least he has the courage and the soul to try new things which let’s face it, is applicable in everyday life. Yes, he has the money to be able to afford to make mistakes with his work but we live in a fickle world and if he releases work which isn’t popular, his reputation suffers. He clearly believes in being bold in order to create something unique rather than being a crowd pleaser. As a Producer, this is something he continues to work on.
How many of us blend in, in day to day life; we’re the chameleon, changing to fit our environment, not wishing to be the tall poppy, not wanting to strike out and do our own thing. Of course, I acknowledge that we’re all different and some may not necessarily want to be the mavericks who go off piste to do their own thing but at the very least, be positively dissatisfied with your life and be conscious that if you’re not happy about something, what can you do to change it – to make it better. There are always those who are happy to stick with the status quo but don’t be one of them. Want better and be Happy.
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” Cecil Beaton
As a footnote – during the masterclass, Pharrell listened to some of the students’ music and was asked to give notes on how he felt they could improve their work. You could see that Maggie Rogers was an old soul with a story to tell and her music reflected this. It embodied the essence of what Pharrell had been talking about and his genuine reaction to her track is great to watch, let alone to hear here this student’s talent, so I urge you to listen to this (from 18:22). The soul in her music shines through and just as in life, when we feel passionately about something even though it may be a bit left field to what everyone else is doing, keep doing it. When people think you’re strange, you’re not, you’re unique.
By Kirsty Perrin
About the Author: Having been immersed in the Winning Edge principles from an early age, Kirsty’s philosophy is to be the best you can be and to enjoy what you do in life.
Kirsty knows that personal development is a continuous journey and therefore has a genuine desire and enthusiasm to help people realise their full potential, to be a success in their life-whatever that may mean to them.
Kirsty’s thought-provoking blogs, prompt readers to think consciously about how their thinking has a huge impact on their life, it informs their emotions and therefore their behaviour. Living life consciously is the cornerstone to the themes of Kirsty’s blogs. You can contact Kirsty directly here