Pharrell Speaks at LA Film Festival [Exclusive Coverage]
Article By Nathan Slavik
Los Angeles, CA -- The doors of Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum opened and within minutes teenage girls and hipsters were elbowing press photographers and grandmothers for the best view of the stage, there was even a legitimate stampede for front row seats. Who could inspire such widespread fascination and near pandemonium?
“I’m not who people think I am. I’m really an idiot, funny, a clown,” said Pharrell during a recent interview for the Los Angeles Film Festival .
Every year the L.A. Film Fest chooses an influential cultural figure to be its artist in residence and this year they tapped none other that Skateboard P. He sat down with former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell for a wide-ranging discussion including his favorite movies, the current state of hip-hop and a possible acting career.
As part of his duties Pharrell selected two movies to show at the festival; National Lampoon’s Vacation and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “It was the first movie that pulled me in,” said Pharrell of the 1970’s sci-fi classic. Besides setting off a life long fascination with space travel, his label is called Star Trak after all; Pharell identified with Richard Dreyfuss’ character in Close Encounters, a man who believed in the unknown despite the skepticism of others.
Talk quickly turned to hip-hop as Pharrell denied rumors of an acting career. “I don’t want to be that guy who’s everywhere. I don’t want to be selling my own toothpaste,” he said. But he was also quick to point out the similarities between the acting and music professions, saying he adopted characters and personas for songs and albums.
“The only way I create is to pretend to be other people. Fans assume I really live what I do in the video and then when they meet me I’m so left of that. I don’t have tons of girls everywhere,” he said. Even a major artist like Pharrell gets pressure from labels to mold his art into more easily marketable images. Most recently he ran into resistance from marketing departments for including cartoons and skateboarding in the video for Can I Have It Like That.
The pressure to conform to expected hip-hop clichés can wear on a man more interested in watching Discovery Channel shows than partying at clubs, but Pharrell is committed to following his eccentric creative vision.
“Music is no different than drugs, the good drugs. It’s designed to stimulate your neurons,” said Pharrell. “When I’m writing I can see the music, I see colors.” This kind of artistic visualization is the reason why Pharrell’s a perfect fit for a film festival, even if his favorite current cinematic work is the YouTube clip Mr. Turner.
“That sh*t is the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life. I’ve got the whole thing memorized. It’s genius,” said Pharrell as he launched into an impression and hundreds of people scrambled to write down the name of the clip. If Pharrell can bring that much fame to a YouTube clip, rentals of Close Encounters should skyrocket. It appears he really is one of the most influential people in America; his name is…Skate…Board…P.