THICKE: The ebb and flow of music means if one person dominates a certain style or sound, then somebody else is going to come and give you a whole new alternative. With music and entertainment, what you always want—what’s fresh, what’s new, what feels like you’re lucky to be hearing it.
MONÁE: That’s the great thing about a song like “Blurred Lines”—those sounds and that instrumentation—it just feels really good. I hear Marvin Gaye and so many different amazing artists that aren’t here anymore. I feel a responsibility to connect the past to the future and to the present, and bridge the gap between this new generation of artists who know nothing about Marvin Gaye’s albums or older Stevie Wonder or Prince music. I feel it’s my responsibility to make sure that when you’re listening to my music, you’re able to hear people who have paved the way. Bo Diddley was a huge inspiration for my newest song “Dance Apocalyptic.” [He] was an African-American man who inspired the Rolling Stones, the Beatles. That was R&B music. I think it’s time that people give history on music and where it comes from.
THICKE: And you try to do something that’s different, in whatever way you can, just to be an individual, because we all strive to stand out. And yet, we want to bring everyone together. I want to bring all cultures, races and ages together to enjoy this music.
MONÁE: We’re not catering to a red or blue state; we’re trying to create a purple state.
THICKE: To me, it feels as much [like] a golden era as any. What was going on at the end of the ’60s and early ’70s is the Stones were jamming with David Bowie and Michael McDonald, working with Kenny Loggins. All styles of music were being crossed, but now hip-hop is the new rock ’n’ roll. We all work together, we all tour together, we’re at Coachella; Snoop Dogg is headlining. All those rules have finally been broken. Rock acts are using hip-hop drums; hip-hoppers are dressing like rock stars. The future is bright.
MONÁE: Yeah, blurred lines…
THICKE: And everything is blurry.
MONÁE: With all these different social media sites where you can post your music, there are a lot of independent artists. I love that. I love that people are making music in their basements and it’s coming online. That’s the good stuff because they’re doing it when nobody’s watching. There is no big machine behind them, and you feel like it’s coming from an honest place. I have my own recording label, Wondaland Art Society. I’ll be bringing forward artists like Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, and they all play their own instruments, they write and produce their own records, they’re playing live onstage. I think it is time for that era. I actually just picked up the guitar a year and a half ago, so I’ll be playing live.
THICKE: I’m going a little in the opposite direction. I wrote and produced all of my first five albums, except for a couple songs. Then my last album didn’t sell any records, so I was like, “Maybe I need to stop trying to do everything myself. Let me call somebody else to help out. Pharrell, what you got?” [laughs] An artist has to keep evolving and changing. After writing 500 songs like I have, sometimes I would go to the piano and I couldn’t find something new, it didn’t feel fresh. But being in the studio with guys like Pharrell and will.i.am, I felt reinvigorated through their spirit and their sounds. And all the sudden I’m still making music that I want to hear. The only thing an artist can ever do is make music they like.