Pharrell Williams says he’s been working on new NERD music: “I wanted great chords. I want to use chords I never used before”

Pharrell Williams
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pharrell Williams has revealed that he’s been working on new music for his side band NERD, which he formed in in 1999 with his Neptunes co-creator Chad Hugo and Shae Haley. This would be the rock/hip-hop collective’s first new material since 2017 album No One Ever Really Dies.

In an extract from his new book, Carbon, Pressure & Time: A Book of Jewels, published by GQ, Pharrell tells his friend Tyler, the Creator that “I just ended up doin’ twelve NERD records.”

Discussing his new music’s sound, Williams says: “I mean, look, like I told you, they’re big choruses, but you know, out of nowhere, I’ll just come out of nowhere with the three-bar, crazy-nuts chords that go three-bar to four-bar to eight-bar.”

The producer goes on to suggest that the material is giving him the same feeling he got when NERD made debut album In Search Of…, which was released in 2001, and suggests that it has a certain amount of harmonic complexity.

“I wanted great chords. I want to use chords I never used before, and not just the dreamy ones,” he explains. “The ones that I’ve never done, that I fuckin’ hated. But using them in ways to get to other chords where the changes are such a release. And then, lyrically, the harmonies here…all the songs just have rainbow harmonies.”

When we can expect to hear the new NERD music wasn’t discussed, and it’s also unclear which (if any) other members of the band have been involved in its production. 

Speaking to MusicRadar in 2022 about the division of labour when he’s working with Pharrell, Chad Hugo said: “Well, it’s always a 50% thing. When we started out recording I was the guy with the equipment. And over the years I came to be overseeing the sound palette… Adding beats and drops. Fixing frequencies here and there with the engineer. Maybe some tonalities. I look after the technical stuff. I’d take that responsibility. But it’s whatever the vibe is. We all have our influences and the music we listen to. It’s whatever I can bring to the table for a particular project.” 

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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