Raahil Chopra
Jun 24, 2015

Cannes Lions 2015: 'When you concentrate on creativity, it will covert to commerce'

'Happy' musician-entrepreneur Pharrell Williams took centre stage on day three of the festival

Cannes Lions 2015: 'When you concentrate on creativity, it will covert to commerce'
In a session titled 'Unleashing creativity through collaboration' on day three of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015, singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, and fashion designer Pharrell Williams spoke with Ryan John Seacrest, an American radio personality, television host, and producer. The conversation was focused on the importance of energy and 'having the right intention'.  
Seacrest kicked things off asking about Williams' approach to creativity, given the large volume and spread of work he's into. Williams said, "Having irons in the fire helps me. Doing two different things helps. Multi-tasking allows me to keep things different and not 'blur the lines'." 
Moving closer to the topic, Williams explained what he looks for in a collaboration: "Every time I collaborate, I'm looking to learn something. I collaborate with people I consider to be better than me. That gives me learnings. I then look for people who give energy. That's discounted by people, but that's very important. They can say what they want. Most of the times it's not about what they say. It's about the energy they get to the room. When you're doing some business, whether it's over facetime or in the room, the energy dictates where this is going. Another thing I look for while collaborating is that, I don't wait for the stars to align with me. I go out there and try getting them. Sometimes you have to convince people to get this done."
Next up was some advice for young creatives. Williams said, "You need to have the right intention. You have to say something right, 'cause in this connected world, the millennials can otherwise check it out and speak out against you. Make sure the right intention is the number one priority for you."
The duo then discussed the right creativity-commerce balance. The celebrity rapper behind the single 'Happy' said, "When you concentrate on creativity, it will covert to commerce. Also, associate with people who are smarter than you, and that'll help."
Seacrest then asked Williams about the secret of looking '27 always' and what keeps him grounded. Williams revealed he's 42 and curiousity keeps him young. He explained, "A curious mind is a young mind. About being grounded, I know it has to be this way."
What makes a project right for Williams... 
"I do things based on what we're interested in. We are ruled more by our ambitions. I have surrounded myself with people who are as ambitious or more and have the power of numbers," he revealed.
The duo then spoke about live connecting platforms. Williams said, "It gives us the platform to reach people and helps them connect with us real time. It's a luxury because not everyone has that. Marilyn Monroe and Martin Luther King couldn't ever send out a tweet. We are blessed with an era where you can pick these options."
Seacrest then spoke about interest spans falling from 12 seconds to nine seconds in the last 15 years. He asked Williams how does he hold the attention of such an audience. The singer observed, "We, the human race, are species of habit. We remain interested in things we are interested in. The only thing that can keep the interest is the right intention. If you do things for money only, the interest won't be there. Do something with the right, pure intention, and that's perfect."
The session ended with a short Q&A with the audience. Addressing one question, Williams spoke on the song that made him a household name, 'Happy'. 
He surmised, "The success of that song has nothing to do with the song (itself). It is built by the millions of people who liked it enough to share, buy, download it. The song was prompted by the film (Despicable Me 2), and is for those million people who liked it."
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