STARTING FROM SCRATCH I was born in Virginia Beach [in the US state of] Virginia in 1973. It was a very normal place, but it was a place where you could develop if you wanted to. If you didn't want that, then you could have a nice, happy normal life. Michael Jackson was my earliest musical influence for sure - I was a little too young for Prince, I guess. I started playing drums at school in the seventh grade. Beginning band classes were where they showed you how to hold drumsticks or put reeds into instruments. It was my first music class and I met Chad [Hugo] there. I played drums and Chad played saxophone. I met Shae [Haley] a couple of years later. Later, with Mike [Etheridge], the four of us started a little hip hop group called The Neptunes. I rapped. We were teenagers having fun. TURNING IT UP Our high-school band got noticed and we began working with producer Teddy Riley. I wrote some lyrics for the song Rump Shaker by Wreckx-n-Effect which was a hit in 1992. Me and Chad began to produce as The Neptunes. We worked with artists such as Mase, Kelis and Noreaga. The Neptunes produced a string of chart hits. I don't know what The Neptunes sound is, but you can easily tell it's us. It's not a specific sound per se, as it changes all the time. We went on to have more success producing for Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Jay-Z. Next I started a band with Chad and Shae called N.E.R.D [No one Ever Really Dies] and, in 2002, we released our first album, In Search of ... N.E.R.D have released four albums. I also released a solo album in 2006. Over the past couple of years, I've been on tour with N.E.R.D and I've been doing other things, but making music is still as important to me as ever. The tours are over so maybe I'll have more time to make music. A GARCONS BOY I have lots of other interests. I have two clothing labels, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, which I established with my friend Nigo, who created A Bathing Ape. In terms of being a designer, I think I have a voice, but I don't think I can put it into words - I don't mean musically, but creatively. Like I know my fingerprint when I see it, but I don't think I can spell it out. I love fashion and I have a lot of fashion influences. I love Rei Kawakubo, the genius behind Comme des Garcons. The last Comme des Garcons show was one of the best things I've ever seen in terms of fashion shows. Junya Watanabe, I really like him, too. I wear a lot of Comme des Garcons. I don't mean that in an ostentatious way, I just love what they do. I am really a follower. KAWS AND EFFECT I love art and design. I like KAWS and Takashi Murakami a lot. I don't know if it's a part of me being an Aries or just being into what I'm into. I collect a little bit. I like people who take ordinary things and twist them a bit, taking things from pop culture. Nigo introduced me to KAWS after they worked together. Jeff Koons is another favourite - he's more of a designer, but I like some of his bigger pieces. Jeff has a very interesting perspective. I would love to collaborate with him. I interviewed him once for Harper's Bazaar. Jeff is a super nice guy. It's unreal that he has this affinity for kids and is raising awareness about child abduction, because while he's this super genius design savant he has some really interesting causes. KA-POW MACAU I liked anime growing up, but never paid attention to where it was coming from. I have a lot of links with Japan, an affinity - maybe I was Japanese in another life. I love Tokyo, there's nothing like it. When I first went to Japan, I was looking around and thinking, 'Wow, is this place even on the same planet?' Japan still holds a fascination for me, as does all of Asia. I've been to Hong Kong twice before - the first time was with Nigo to launch Billionaire Boys Club, the second time was for my other clothing label. Now [at the start of May] I'm in town to talk at [cultural festival] Liberatum. I've been to Macau, but I didn't like it that much. [Mainland] China interests me, too - maybe in the future I will go there. DESIGNS ON LIFE Architecture says a lot about a culture. In Hong Kong, the buildings have a certain regard for humanity. If you look around, you can see the architecture services and considers humans and the significance of humans frequenting these buildings more than in other places. In America, our culture is based on completely different considerations. The architecture in Hong Kong is functional, but it's done in a very artistic way. To me design is geometry with a consideration of tone and taste - and that's what you have here. UP NEXT I've got a lot of new Neptunes productions coming out soon. Plus new productions for Usher, Jay-Z, the Scissor Sisters and lots of others. I'm almost done with the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack - I loved working on the first film. I'm also working on a musical. As for acting, I did a cameo in Get Him to The Greek, but it's not something I'm actively pursuing. I guess if there's something I really like, I'll try to do it, but I can't do it all.