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Pharrell Says ‘Despicable Me’ Influenced New N.E.R.D. Album

Barbara Zanon, Getty Images

Pharrell Williams has created hit albums for a list of artists that reads like a short novel, but the super producer recently breached new ground when he was tapped to create the soundtrack for Universal’s latest animated 3-D film, ‘Despicable Me.’

“I was presented the opportunity and I hopped on it,” Pharrell tells TheBoomBox. “I’m a huge fan of animation and there are certain cartoons I just love so much, that I’ve watched all my life, from ‘Looney Toons’ all the way to ‘The Smurfs.’ Boomerang is one of my favorite networks, beyond Nickelodeon and obviously the Disney Channel.”

Though the 37-year-old Virginia native has a fondness for cartoons, it’s the movies he’s seen over the years that supported his urge to get behind a feature film. “But then there are also the movies that come out and those things are amazing,” he continues. “‘The Incredibles’ was a great thing and when I look back and see ‘Ice Age,’ ‘Horton Hears a Who’ or ‘The Simpsons Movie,’ it’s amazing to think that one day I could wake up and be a part of Illumination Entertainment, who did those movies.”

To develop the music for ‘Despicable Me,’ Pharrell had the opportunity to collaborate with famed German composer, Hans Zimmer, who has nabbed several Academy Awards for his work on films that include ‘The Lion King,’ and ‘Gladiator.’ “When I wake up and say to myself, ‘Yeah, you just scored and participated in the music in that incredible animation and got to work with Hans Zimmer,’ I’ve got to pinch myself,” he admits. “It’s an amazing thing to be able to do that. It’s just mind-blowing the way they put it all together, you’ve got to dictate the moment when you do a score.”

The N.E.R.D. front man also admitted that working on the score for the film has shaped the production of his group’s upcoming album, ‘Nothing,’ which is due out in September. “I learned a lot from being in Hans Zimmer’s compound and having access to all his sounds and his incredible expansive library,” Pharrell says. “It totally opened my mind and let me know how far I could really take things in terms of music.”

“I don’t know if it was such a great thing for hip-hop as it was for just music in it’s own respect. My new N.E.R.D. album, ‘Nothing,’ has hip-hop elements but it’s far reaching. We’re not played on only hip-hop stations, we’re more akin to European festivals and 80 to 90,000 folks going crazy, mosh-pitting and ['Despicable Me'] was a huge influence on ‘Nothing.’”

Pharrell was happy to report that ‘Nothing’ is finally near completion, but for now he’s still reveling in the success of wrapping production on his first film soundtrack. “Today is all about ‘Despicable Me,’ he said. “It was a great opportunity, it’s Illumination, it’s Universal and just to be associated with this project in any way, shape or form — let alone the music — is just a huge blessing and I can’t imagine how anything could be any cooler.”

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