Grace Jones was a slave to the rhythm, and N.E.R.D. were slaves to the energy when they recorded their new LP, Seeing Sounds.
“We didn’t care about genres; we’re not doing this for the money,” Pharrell Williams said at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. “We’re doing this for people who pledge allegiance to our movement.”
Skateboard P said that his fans want to rock out and be taken on an emotional roller coaster, and the only way to do that is to give some full-on speaker-blasting records. Their sound this time around is not necessarily club music, but it’s definitely European-influenced, layered and textured. “It’s a big album of LSD, sonic drug,” said bandmate Chad Hugo.
N.E.R.D.’s other member, Shay, further elaborated on the album title. It was inspired by the neurological phenomenon synesthesia, which combines two senses. They were fascinated after learning about it while watching the Discovery Channel.
“It’s a mixture of senses that may cause a person to experience colorful hearing, auditory smell,” Shay explained. “For example, you might see something, and it might trigger a song. You might hear something, and it might trigger a taste in your mouth. When we created this album, it was the music we envisioned while creating it. We decided it would be the appropriate title for the album.”
“If you really analyze that,” Pharrell added, “the most inspiration is probably deep inside a synesthesiac. So for us, ‘seeing sounds’ is what we relate to the most. We figured we’d make an album out of it.
“Energy and emotion was the criteria [while recording], but we made the music anticipating the [live] show,” he continued. “That was the most important thing. … [The song] ‘Spazz’ is [a] nostalgic, hip-hop feeling with some drum and bass. It becomes a big, tall monster. It’s almost like this big gorilla looking down at you. If he smacks you, he kills you. His fingers are the size of your body. That’s kinda what we’re doing in N.E.R.D. We’re facing this big monster of, of what we know is out there, of what we see, that big monster of energy.”
N.E.R.D. will get ample opportunity to test out their songs on the Glow in the Dark Tour with Kanye West. They open for the Louis Vuitton Don beginning April 16. The first single from their June LP is “Everyone Nose,” which deals with cocaine.