Will.i.am – exclusive interview

We cornered The Black Eyed Peas megastar ahead of his Dubai Music Week gig


Can you explain the significance of Eazy‐E to your career?
Eazy E singed us [me and apl.de.ap] back when I was in high school. We were in a group called Atban Klann and Eazy E signed us to his record label Ruthless Records. Eazy was an inspiration and an instrumental part of the beginning of my career.

What influence did the rave scene in Los Angeles have on your music for The Black Eyed Peas?
The rave scene in Australia inspired me in 2008 when I was filming the movie [X-Men Origins:] Wolverine in Sydney. I was impressed by the music scene and musicality that was happening in Australia, and that lead to the sound that we created on the album The E.N.D. that was released in 2009.

When you worked on songs like ‘Where is the Love’ were you consciously trying to make something that was universal in its meaning?
‘Where is the Love’ was written and released around the time of the 9/11 attacks in America. Everyone was trying to understand what happened, why it happened and to make sense of such tragedy. For me at that time, we wanted to make a song that would give back to the people to have a sense of hope in a time of tragedy.

What artists are you listening to at the moment?
I love the new Daft Punk record. There are many new artists out there that are interesting, like Leah McFall. Look out for her, she is a talent to be recognized.

Where do you see yourself in four years time?
I will be writing computer code. Every student will learn how to write computer code in school. Computer code is the new universal language that will become more vital. A new generation will be creating new products and apps that do things that you cannot even imagine today.

What do you think about the music scene in Dubai?
The last time I was in Dubai I was touring with The Black Eyed Peas and I remember a very vibrant music scene. I would love to go out to the clubs there on my next trip and hear what the latest sounds are.

You have other interests as well as music, such as digital technology and your role on TV show The Voice in the UK. How do you fit everything into your schedule, and is music still your main priority?
I am very focused. I don’t need a lot of sleep and I have a great team that helps get it all done. I catch up on work and sleep on long haul flights when I travel abroad.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would that be?
I’m very fortunate to travel the world, and getting to meet amazing people wherever I go. Meeting famous and important business leaders is great, but it is young people who inspire me the most. Meeting bright and focused youth who are working on STEM [education] projects that will become new inventions and solve big chronic problems is what I enjoy most.

Will.i.am performs on a double bill with Timbaland at Dubai World Trade centre on Thursday September 26 as part of Dubai Music Week. For more information see www.dubaimusicweek.com.

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