Will.i.am is a series of contradictions. He says people are too wrapped up in their technological devices, but then he proudly affirms that he wrote the track “XOXOXO” on the Black Eyed Peas’ new album “The Beginning” all about text messages.
“As a matter of fact, I recorded a lot of stuff on my phone. For ‘The Time (Dirty Bit),’ I was on a plane when I recorded the original beat.”
But contradictions are what you come to expect with a band whose album before “The Beginning,” was called “The E.N.D.”
The electro style you’ve adopted has been quite surprising for your fans. Did you think it was a risk?
When we were about to record “The E.N.D.,” our manager asked us who we’d like to collaborate with: Beyonce, Usher, Justin Timberlake? I said none of them. I wanted to work with DJs like Boys Noize or David Guetta. Back in 2007, this was a crazy idea for a pop band. Why did we want this? Because club music was the only living music. What the DJs are playing is what makes people dance.
So is Black Eyed Peas a remedy to our dark age?
A dark age, what is it? Is it the law that makes you go home every day at 5 p.m.? Or you want to eat sushi but can only afford a sandwich? No. The problem nowadays is that people are disconnected from each other. On the street, in a restaurant, we are playing with our smartphones, and we can’t have a normal conversation.
Tell us more about David Guetta, who wrote a track on your new album. Some say he’s gone too commercial and away from the underground.
People who listen to his or our music just want to escape. They don’t care about that crap. … The best is to seduce both the mainstream and the underground scene. Prince, Michael Jackson: Everybody loves them.
Speaking of Jackson, will you ever release the songs you wrote with him?
No. Why? Because he is not with us anymore to give his blessing on them. Michael was a perfectionist, always willing to do better. Making an album with the songs we wrote together would be disrespectful. Sony asked me to do it, but I declined.
Will you ever listen to the “Michael” album?
Sure I will. But I know that one of the songs that already came out on the Internet Michael wasn’t totally happy with. I remember him calling me in 2008 because he was furious – well, in his way [laughs].