Miley Cyrus has spent the past few years acting out and growing up, in the latest issue of V Magazine, she reveals all to Pharrell Wiliams, the producer behind her new hip-hop sound and she strips off and looks amazing in the magazine’s photoshoot by Mario Testino.
Where did you start?
Pharrell was the first person I wanted to work with. I had so many different producers and managers and all of these people coming to my house because I didn’t know where I wanted to start. My record would have come out like a high school mixtape with these different songs and feelings that don’t blend. Then I met Pharrell, and it was the first time I was in the studio just being really free. Pharrell opened that door. At the end of the day, it’s what me and P are making. And of course we’re so grateful for the people that got us here, that brought us to each other, and now we’re on our own path. I’ve never been more thankful for someone in my life. It’s just crazy. It’s been almost a year since we started, and my life has been completely different. I could keep doing this forever, just making this record.PW Because “Party in the U.S.A.” was pop as fuck, but it was honestly good pop, and she was saying the right shit. She was like, [singing] “And the Jay-Z song is on!” And I was like, “Okay, the salvia, that line in ‘Party in the U.S.A.,’ and the different shit that would pop up online? There’s definitely something in there.”MC No one let me sing the way that Pharrell does, which is to just go in and do your shit and do all of the harmonies that you do, which is what brings it to where I’m from. Which is being from Nashville and being around Dolly [Parton, her godmother] and listening to her sing. No one would give me the chance to say, “Turn the Auto-Tune off, turn the filter off, and just listen to what I’m saying.”
He was the first person that ever did that. I can never say that I don’t love “Party in the U.S.A.” and that I’m not appreciative of it. It would be like my dad saying that he hated “Achy Breaky.” It’s what gives you everything that you have. I would never take it back.
But that’s not who I am, that’s not where I want to sing, that’s not what I want to sing, and that’s not what I want my voice to sound like, because you can’t hear me through there. I like that Rihanna has a tone of her own. Beyoncé has a tone of her own. I have a tone of my own. Everything else is just blending into one club mix—but we keep our 808s in there because I love them.
What does that sound like?
PW It sounds like her personality. This whole process has just been me holding up the mirror. Let’s move to the hair part of the conversation. We’re down in Miami and she kept saying things like, “Yeah, well, this is what I think, but such and such is going to think such and such.” And I was like, “You’re the queen of your own kingdom. At the end of the day, you need to do what other people can’t do.”
MC It was awesome because we were sitting around with Helen [Lasichanh, Williams’s fiancée] and Rocket [the couple’s son], and I’m like, “Why don’t I just cut my hair, all blonde?” Because I’ve always wanted to do it. I got to pretend to be a Jonas Brother one time and I had to wear a Jonas swoop and as soon as I saw it I was like, Okay, I kind of look dope like that.
And I never really thought about it again. And then Pharrell said, “That’s what you can do that no one else can do.” Maybe two weeks later, he was the first person I called as soon as I pulled my bun up and [hairstylist Chris McMillan] went like this [makes snipping motion]. He was the only person I wanted to call, because I wanted him to know that I’m not fucking around with what I’m saying. I’m going to change, I’m going to be different, I’m going to do what I want to do. I chopped my hair and bought a pair of Docs and never looked back.
An artist coming into her own.
PW Fearless. I’ll never forget when she first cut her hair and a good friend of mine—Tyler, the Creator—made a comment on Twitter.
MC About my barber. He called him my barber!
PW And she fired back!
MC It’s actually funny. He wrote something about how ‘Miley should kill her barber for what he did to her.’ And I was like, “Nothing can match what God already did to your face. By the way, I love your music. Smiley face.”
PW The balls! The ovaries! The sophistication to end it with, “But I love your music. Smiley face”? I was telling people, “Told y’all. She’s different.”
MC And now he’s on a track with us and in here and chilling.
PW “Yes, I will nuke you. I’m not afraid. But I like your music.” That’s the real shit. That was a very proud moment for me. Name another pop artist under 21 who would have responded like that. Because on paper she’s a pop artist. If you cut her open, she’s many things.
MC In my mind I’m Gucci Mane, but on paper I’m a pop artist. [laughs]
I remember seeing you out wearing a Moschino logo belt and knowing that you knew something.
MC That’s what’s crazy. I felt like I always got it. I would always secretly keep my shit for around the house. Now I’m like, Fuck it. It’s not about the girly-girl shit anymore, the pop shit. Times are changing, music is changing, fashion is changing. It’s all changing.
I like that you’re engaged but also no bullshit. You have a certain stability while taking on the world.
MC I work every day. My assistant is always like, “I don’t want to hear you sing during the day unless we’re at the studio, because I’m at the studio with you from 5 pm until 5 am half the time.” And it’s like, I’m not home with my boyfriend all the time. We work. Every week it’s “Are they broken up? Because we don’t see a photo of them.”
I don’t have time to go to Starbucks with my boyfriend every morning. I wish I did, but I don’t. I’d rather chill at my house and be there for the time I actually get to spend with him. And then I’m at the studio all day. He gets up to work out at six and I come home at five from the studio. I put this record before everything, and I’ve never done that with anything. I’ve put too much into this record to put anything else in front of it.
The album is your story.
MC I got excited because on this record I can say whatever I want. And then I got more comfortable with that and the record got better and better. If I had made it two years ago when I should have had a record come out, it would have been a little brat trying to say “This isn’t who I am! This is what I’m trying to prove!” Now I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody.
ARTICLE MARK JACOBS, INTERVIEW PHARRELL WILLIAMS
PHOTOGRAPHY MARIO TESTINO
STYLIST CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE
Read all in vmagazine.com