Will.i.am talks tech, we nod along and smile
9th May 2012 | 13:30
The internet's a trumpet, see
Black Eyed Pea Will.i.am might not be the first person who springs to mind when you think of computer processors, but that hasn't stopped him hooking up with Intel.
As the company's Creative Director, what Mr I.am is actually working on is still under wraps but he went after the gig by pitching the chip company with what he calls "the sixth computer".
"I came up with a concept for Intel," he tells us. "You've got your desktop computer, your laptop, phone, tablet, smart TV… so I thought, I know! Ima come up with the sixth computer.
"So I hung out with all these code writers and came up with what's going to be the sixth computer. Then I pitched it to Intel and they liked what they heard."
Where is the love?
Listening to him speak at the Royal College of Arts Innovation Night in London, Will.i.am comes across as a mad professor, fizzing with ideas and desperate to get them all across.
Even the biggest 'Peas hater couldn't help but be a bit impressed – either this guy has really done his homework or he really is interested in tech.
"Music should never have been sold," he proclaims. "You were really always selling the technology."
He launches into a theory about music as the advertising and tech as the product ("But technicians don't win awards!") before waxing lyrical about his BlackBerry and claiming that "no one's telling stories on Twitter."
"It's always been technology that's married to the music – but now there's a superior technology and it doesn't have art married to it," he says.
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"You're not making music for the internet, you're still making "records". You've got a "record contract".
"I use a BlackBerry to record," he adds, alluding to the nonsensically complicated world of rights clearance. "But I can't record a Sony album without clearance and all my tunes are sold on iTunes, that you listen to on an iPhone. So right now we're in limbo.
"Apple's great, but it was music that helped define what it is. Music helps sell other things. Always has. We've got to reinterpret what a song is on the internet, we have to have art that's married to the technology."
Boom boom pow
Got all that? Want to hear the one about how the internet is a trumpet? And how we've got to stop thinking outside the box but instead get back in the box and think about how we can turn the box into something else?
We didn't even know there was a box Will.i.am! What is going on? Ah, magic:
"Tools like Protunes, Logic, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook allow me to come up with an idea, finish it and send it to 10 million people right now.
"You don't have to worry about all the logistics of physical production, don't need to press 10 million discs any more. It all happens weightlessly. It all happens in a little box – I mean, get outta here!
"You tell me that in 1998 and I'd be like man, what are you smoking? That's some Harry Potter shit, man. But now we just accept it."
By the end of the talk, we're exhausted but Will.i.am is still going, cracking jokes, doing impressions (of his mum, his nan, an advertising agent, some gangsters, his mum again), eager to talk about the government, advertising, the future of fashion (It's code, apparently. Computer code.), Dr Pepper, space travel, and his car-building project that aims to replace robots with people again…
With the endless product upgrade cycle and everyone's eyes on Apple to come up with the next big thing, maybe technology needs a few more people like Will.i.am.
But what we really need right now is a strong coffee. Just for God's sake don't give Will.i.am any: the last thing he needs is caffeine.