A new Q&A with Beck in Billboard is a lot more action-packed than one might expect a 2017 interview with Beck to be. The discussion surrounding his new album Colors is particularly revelatory. The veteran alt-pop chameleon explains that the album, which is upbeat, party-oriented and co-helmed by pop producer Greg Kurstin, was actually largely recorded before his downbeat, country-folk-influenced album of 2014, Morning Phase.
Reflecting on the odd timing of putting out Colors, Beck observed that the years in which he recorded it–2013 and 2014–were “a very different time. When these songs were being recorded, [Pharrell Williams’] “Happy” was about to come out and be the biggest song in the world. Now we’re in a different world.” If you’ve heard Colors, this may offer some insight as to why the record sounds like it does.
In Beck’s discussion of Pharrell, with whom he briefly considered making a full-length collaborative album, Beck also touched on a point that will be intriguing for those interested in the long history of pop stars going through misbegotten hat phases. Here’s the telling exchange:
So, did you and Pharrell exchange anti-aging tips or what?
[Laughs.] I remember he was very drawn to my hat. I was wearing my hat a lot at the time.
The wide-brimmed hat on the Morning Phase cover?
Yeah. He’s like, “Where did you get that?”
Maybe you inspired him to get his own massive hat.
I don’t know. I mean, his is way bigger.
It may remain unproven, but signs point to Beck being partially to blame for the silly Pharrell hat.
There’s some other good details in the interview, too: Apparently, there’s a version of his return-to-white-boy-rapping single “Wow” featuring Lil Yachty, recorded after Beck tried in vein to get Kendrick and (?!) OG Maco on board. Also, he claims to have unreleased music that reminds him of modern-day, blown-out Soundcloud rap like Lil Peep and XXXTentacion on file: “I have a bunch of tracks that I did like eight, nine years ago that are more in the vein of that stuff. I never put it out, but it doesn’t feel far from some of that.”
There’s some discussion of the fallout from Kanye calling out him at the Grammys in 2015, and that time when Steely Dan won Album of the Year over Midnite Vultures and Kid A (Beck was fine with it). Read more here.