Talking to Pharrell Williams about uncompleted tasks is tough. It’s not that the Grammy-winning producer isn’t beaming with excitement about his role as the music consultant alongside film composer Hans Zimmer for the upcoming 84th annual Academy Awards. He just has cats to keep in the bag. The same goes for the female offshoot of his Billionaire Boys Club clothing line, his collaboration with designer Mark McNairy, and his forthcoming book chronicling his worldwide travels, Places & Spaces I’ve Been. Specifics on future projects are kept classified with C.I.A.-level secrecy. Still, GQ pried. While cruising to his Miami studio, Williams chatted about the Oscars, his newly adopted grunge look, and helping Jay-Z craft his daughter-dedicated cut “Glory”.

Hit the jump for the interview

GQ: You and Hans Zimmer are the music consultants for the Oscars. What does that job entail? 

Pharrell: We have to reinterpret some of the music for the nominees. We have to do other music as well that is at times new and original and at others borrowing from movie scenes.

GQ: On Rick Ross’ Rich Forever mixtape you rap, “Black boy scoring his life/ I’m scoring the Oscars.” How excited are you for this opportunity—especially since you’re still essentially a music nerd from Virginia who made it big. 

Pharrell: I’m just very thankful. And I say that a lot because that’s the most important message. I answer questions the best I can. But most of the answers usually feel the same. And that’s just me being very appreciative of the opportunity, because, like you said, I’m from Virginia Beach, VA. I’m glad that I can exhibit what we can do.

GQ: Lupe Fiasco recently announced that you’re working on an album together? You two and Kanye West were working on a project once upon a time, too, your crazy schedules interfered. Think this one will pan out? 

Pharrell: I can’t talk about that. Lupe is my man and whatever we’re talking about we can’t really discuss and get into right now. We’re talking about some very interesting things.

GQ: Well, let’s talk about something that’s done and out now: Jay-Z’s “Glory.” You produced it. What did it mean to you to assist in making a song for Jay’s first born? It’s like rap’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”

Pharrell: Uh, that was awesome. But again, that was another covert operation.

GQ: Did you guys record that in the hours after his daughter was born or was it recorded in advance? Obviously, her first cries were added after she was born.
Pharrell: That was, uh… That was, um… Everything was by design. That’s all I’ll say.