OnlyOnAOL: Pharrell's take on fame will blow your mind
If understatement was the word of the day, you could call Pharrell famous.
In reality, he's a musical trailblazer, a fashion icon (deemed so by none other than the CFDA), a genius who melds and create melodies -- often in the shower. The singer, designer, producer and musician is the recipient of 11 Grammys. He's got his hands in clothing, owning Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream apparel, plus working with the eco-line Bionic Yarn. He's worked with everyone from Beyonce to Usher to Frank Ocean. And he wrote that little ditty you might have heard, called "Happy."
And yet in person, Pharrell is the opposite of most of his peers. There's no entourage. No attitude. When you ask him how he's doing, he asks about you -- and waits for an answer.
The reason for his laid-back attitude? "First of all, I have voicemail syndrome. It's something I coined," he says.
Meaning, he can't stand hearing himself. Or watching himself when he coaches aspiring vocalists on NBC's "The Voice," which airs Mondays and Tuesdays.
"You sound weird. You've seen yourself on video? You like that? You cringed, didn't you? That's what happens to me when I see myself on television. I don't watch 'The Voice,'" he says.
Being famous, and reveling in it, wasn't for him, he decided. "So many people are good at it. When I tried to do that ten years ago, it was like a nightmare. I would look up and you get the hits, you would get the attention. But I was afraid of that and I still am. It scares me. I wasn't really into that as much as I thought I wanted that," he says.
First and foremost, he sees himself as a producer. And he likens his life to living in a sock, and says he was familiar with only one side of it. Now, "The Voice" aside, he's the dad of Rocket Ayer Williams, with wife Helen Lasichanh, and focuses on his work inside the studio. The rest -- not his style.
"I spent 40-something years mastering what that sock looked like from the outside," he says, adding that his discomfort with being the center of attention remains palpable.
But mostly, the reason for who he is goes back to point one: "That's the key to my humility: I have voicemail syndrome."
Besides, adds Pharrell, "I'm such a goof."
You could have fooled us.