Justin Timberlake Talks Timbaland (November 2nd)
Justin Timberlake sat down with Variety to talk about his upcoming projects and Timbaland. Photo by Tom Munro. The last time Timberlake released new music, it was the double-album blitz of “The 20/20 Experience,” which saw the singer flood the airwaves with two and a half hours of new music in a single year, sell six million albums, make appearances on just about every televised venue, and embark on a series of tours that stretched for two years.
Timberlake had to prove himself as a credible adult solo artist in the 2000’s. “Justified,” executive produced by Pharrell, started that process in 2002, and 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds” — the first of Timberlake’s three album-length collaborations with producer Timbaland — finished the job. Unlikely collaborators when they first crafted Timberlake’s 2002 No. 3 hit, “Cry Me A River,” the former boy-band star and the hip-hop-bred producer have since become one of the most forward-thinking star-producer duos in pop music. Their work on Timberlake’s second solo album not only brought the star into his own, it also helped recalibrate the sonic frequency of several years’ worth of pop-radio trends.
“My connection with Justin is very deep,” says Timbaland. “Just because I like what’s in his brain, and he likes what’s in my brain. And our process is we just sit around, talk and vibe, catch up on life. All the while, the musical equipment is hooked up, and we play little sounds until we find something and go, ‘Ooh! Let’s do that.’ When a sound stops the conversation, that’s where we start.”
“I wouldn’t say [my new material] is the antithesis of ‘20/20,’ but it does sound more singular,” Timberlake says. “If ‘20/20’ sounded like it literally surrounds your entire head, this stuff feels more like it just punches you between the eyes.” Which, of course, could just as well describe the distinction between Timbaland and Pharrell. Timberlake defines his major collaborators like this: “Tim is a sound junkie, the same way Pharrell is a song junkie. And then Max is like music’s Morpheus.”