In 2012 will.i.am became the first recording artist to send a song to space (Reach For The Stars, which was played back from Mars). And now, in 2016, it turns out that trying to pin the L.A. born polymath down is much like trying to pin down a rocket.
Words by Hollie Moat, Photography by Dani Brubaker, Styling by Anya Ziourova
We finally get to chat to the Black Eyed Peas frontman and seven time Grammy winner as he heads to LAX, fresh off a brainstorm with the team at i.am+, his tech company. ‘Really it’s just like a domino building session where someone says let’s do this and we might say no that’s not a good idea but let’s go down that path and see how we can turn it into a great idea’ he explains.
The brand launched their first creation – an iPhone camera accessory in 2012, but more recently they’ve branched out into the dial - a smart watch, and some wireless Bluetooth headphones, named i.am EPs, that you can wear as a necklace. Airport bound, we spoke to Will - who studied at California’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and is certainly no slouch in the style department - about his world of wearable tech.
So will, can you tell us about life as the head of a technology empire?
‘I’m the CEO and founder of the i.am + company, but I have an amazing team and everything we do, we complete as a unit [even though] we’re spread out across four different countries. Our headquarters are here in Hollywood, our A.I team is in Israel, our O.S team is in India and our hardware team is in Singapore. And together we’re all thinking about creating things that look beautiful and have awesome functionality. And you can see how strong the team is by how far the tech can go. So our team is pretty strong, and we’re still out searching to make it stronger.’
will.i.am wears: Shirt by Études Studio x Mark Gonzales
And is that a reflection of the world we live in now?
‘Eleven years ago if I’d told you that you’re going to live your life on your phone and you’re going to carry it around and take pictures with it every thirty minutes you’d say there’s no way in hell I’m gonna live that way. We have gone so far away from anything normal - yet it’s become the norm, we’ve accepted it and that’s the way life is - to always be on. It’s kind of crazy I think.’
‘I’m living my life on devices and I want to live my life on something that looks amazing so that I can express myself while I’m doing it. And our i.am + EP headphones are a striking, technical piece of equipment that looks like jewellery.’
Did moving into technology seem like a giant leap from your music career?
‘It’s no different to being in a music group - every time I made a record I learned more about music, from trying our hardest to execute the idea. And that’s the same as what we’re doing with the hybrid of technology and fashion, with software developing. We’re always learning, and that’s an awesome job.’
Music, technology, fashion…is there any other area you’re planning on dipping a toe into?
‘I love being in this configuration in my life, where it’s cross-disciplinary and tech’s involved, creative’s involved, and I have creative people around me - coders, developers, electrical engineers, marketers, thinkers, designers - the whole shebang. I like being in this version of my world right now. I don’t think there’s anything else I could possibly dream of wanting myself to do – I already have two full-time jobs!’