Pharrell Williams (left) works alongside Hetior Pereira (right) for the â€œDespicable Meâ€ soundtrack.
By Brandon I. Brooks
Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes and N.E.R.D. has just added another notch under his belt as the Grammy Award-winning artist composed several original songs for the animated film “Despicable Me,” which is due to open in theatres on July 9th, 2010.
Pharrell Williams, best known in the industry by his first name Pharrell, has worked with a number of the world’s top musicians such as Beyonce, Brittney Spears, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Madonna, Busta Rhymes and Kanye West to name a few.
In 2009, in appreciation of the producer’s efforts, Billboard magazine named Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes Producers of the Decade.
From Producer Chris Meledandri, producer of other notable films such as Ice Age and Dr. Seuss, comes, “Despicable Me,” an animated 3D film that tells the story of the world’s greatest super- villain named Gru who is planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is planning on stealing the moon.
The character Gru is voiced over by comedic actor Steve Carrell, star of the movie Get Smart and television’s The Office. Gru meets the biggest challenge when three little orphan children enter his life and look at him as a potential father figure.
Co-starring alongside Carrell in “Despicable Me” are Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Miranda Cosgrove (Nickelodeon’s iCarly), Academy Award winner Julie Andrews (Mary Popins), Russell Brand (Get Him the Greek), Kristen Wiig (Date Night) and Will Arnett (Monsters vs. Aliens).
The original songs and themes are by Pharrell Williams and the score is by Pharrell Williams and Heitor Pereira. With the help of Pereira, Williams watched preliminary footage of the film and then created music he thought would fit into each sequence. Pereira would then expand upon some of Williams’ ideas and come up with additional creative works.
“Heitor took those pieces and songs, and he connected the dots,” said Williams. He scored some incredible scenes and embellished some of the scenes that I scored and took those to the next level.”
Earlier this week, in a sit-down conversation at the West Side Staging studios in Los Angeles, Williams caught up with local press to discuss his role as one of the Executive Producer’s for the “Despicable Me” soundtrack.
Williams shared with the press that he is obsessed with animation. Ever since he can remember, he has always had an interest with cartoons. If you pay close attention, Williams incorporates animation themes in many of his professional endeavors, none more evident than his clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and his other apparel line called Ice Cream Clothing.
Williams shared that he feels this movie should be viewed by all children, especially those children that seem to be getting into more trouble than the next, because there is a clear lesson to be learned. Williams added that “Despicable Me” is a great movie because it will allow a child to see the difference between good and evil and the consequences that come along with making decisions.
Scoring music for feature films has been an interest of Pharrell Williams for some time and he had become more eager to work in this realm after observing Jack Johnson’s musical involvement in creating the best-selling soundtrack to Universal’s animated film “Curious George.” Williams expressed interest to friend and music supervisor Kathy Nelson.
Williams told Nelson that the very next time something comes up she better give him a call and Nelson was adamant in saying “I’m not going to just give you anything, I’m going to call you when it’s the right thing.” And Pharrell Williams was called for “Despicable Me.”
The Sentinel asked Pharrell to share what he learned from the project that he didn’t know going into it and Pharrell shared that he never understood how many sounds are truly out there. He was literally introduced to a slew of new sounds and in his own words there is a massive “expansive database” that he didn’t know existed until participating on this project.
Though the task of scoring his first feature seemed daunting, Williams was grateful the he was surrounded by Academy Award winner Han Zimmer as the films music producer. Zimmer helped Williams bridge the gap between the world of film and animation and help him better understand how to approach each scene.
Williams composed the title track for the project, “Despicable Me,” He was inspired by the music from “Annie” and the narrative behind the lyrics. Williams wanted to write friendly lyrics but also match the moody temper of Gru’s character.
“I’ve never made a song about having a bad day and being in a super bad mood,” said Williams. “So I thought I would make it really fun but, at the same time, if you were to hear it with the lyrics, it would sound like this track you’d want to hear coming out of someone’s truck.”
After his film experience Pharrell shared that there is nothing like movie money because the budget isn’t as tight. The resources are there and they allow the process to be friendlier to those creating the music.
Pharrell shared that he most definitely plans on working on more animation projects and that there were some projects being looked at but that there was nothing confirmed as of the interview time.
As far as for his music, Williams hinted toward a solo project coming soon. He said that the album is going to have a Curtis Mayfield appeal and that people should stay tuned because it is nothing like they have heard from Pharrell and the Neptunes.