Will.i.am is one of those Zelig-type characters who seems to show up everywhere, even in holographic form on CNN election night.
I caught up with the Black Eyed Peas founder and Grammy producer of the year nominee last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to interview him for msn.com. We talked about the effect his video "Yes, We Can" had on the election, his work with U2 and the next Black Eyed Peas album (more about that in coming weeks).
He speaks slowly, deliberately and thinks about what he wants to say. His mind seems to be racing a million miles a minute, even if his words are not. Visionary isn't the right word for will.i.am. It's more like he sees possibilities t hat most of us don't think about in terms of tying in art and commerce, music and the message, content and technology. It's all about communication in all its forms.
Now that the election is over, will.i.am is turning his social efforts to renewable energy. Al Gore (whom will.i.am does a wicked impression of) inspired him to come up with his next piece of content, a song and video called "Take Our Planet Back."
Will.i.am told Gore, "I'm probably the least likely person that you should go to to talk about the environment because my studio... my power bill is crazy. I'm a polluter so if you want me to make a piece of content, I have to admit that I'm a polluter. I have to admit that when I wake up in the morning all the things I do to fuck the planet up."
And that's exactly what he did. He wrote a song that questions why we Americans use so much energy and have been so slow to embrace eco-friendly solutions. The accompanying video is his "confession" of how, just by going about his daily life, he contribute to the problem. "The video [is] me waking up in the morning, going out, just to start my day and all the people who suffer from me doing that," he says. "So it goes from me drinking a water bottle to zooming in on the water bottle to zooming out to a kid playing in a landfill of water bottle."
He's made two versions: one a straight musical video and the other is what he dubs a "songapedia." in the second version, the viewer can click on an image and facts about the problem come up. The clips will soon be available on www.dipdive.com.