NEW YORK — For a producer as dexterous as Pharrell Williams — he effortlessly moves between the worlds of pop, R&B and hip-hop — you'd think he'd have an easy time coming up with a way to describe the sound of the new N.E.R.D. album due next year.
"It's a Red Bull with growth hormones in it," he told MTV News a couple of weeks ago of the album, N*R*3*D, which is tentatively set to be released in the spring on Interscope Records, according to a rep for Pharrell. "You know how artists do interviews, and they'll be like [he impersonates an indie-rocker], 'It's, like, weird, really crazy.' I wish I could really go there and do that, but I can't.
The analogy is apt, considering his desire to be more ... inconsistent?
According to P, the last N.E.R.D. project, 2004's Fly or Die, was far too consistent, particularly given the producer's penchant for mixing it up, from sounds to choruses and bridges. He felt he abandoned a certain sense of unpredictability the group — which includes himself, Neptunes partner Chad Hugo and Shay Haley — harbored on its debut, In Search of ... . That disc garnered critical acclaim and earned a Shortlist Music Prize, awarded to what a panel of musicians, producers and journalists consider to be the best album of the year that sold fewer than 500,000 copies.
"[Fly or Die] was too consistent," explained Pharrell, who had been in town for the VH1 Hip Hop Honors festivities. "That's true. I'm known for being all over the place. This [new] album took a few years to make in terms of ... collecting the right records for it.
"I just was waiting for the right sounds," he later added. "Creating [music] at the keyboard is like going fishing. You fish for it every day. And you either get it or you don't get it. It works several different ways: sometimes I sit down and just make something and it's appropriate for it, sometimes I do that and it's not appropriate. And sometimes I have to wait. What I usually do with the N.E.R.D. albums is we wait a lot."
The project is currently the top priority for him right now, Pharrell said. The album is basically completed at this point, but P was tight-lipped regarding details, including specifics about collaborations and a possible first single. He did, however, let on just how personal the N.E.R.D. concept is for him and his bandmates — so much so that he would rather have the fans speak about the music once it's released instead of him.
"I want to leave it for the audience," Pharrell said. "So what I think about it doesn't really matter. It's feelings. So I want the thoughts in this process to come from our audience and the people who listen to my thoughts.
"It's who we are," he finished. "Because it's a real honest look in the mirror [at us]. We're different."