Why Did Pharrell Williams Visit Polyphony Digital’s Tokyo Studio?

Superstar musician Pharrell Williams met with Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital staff at the company’s offices in Tokyo, Japan. The visit was announced by Yamauchi himself on social media as he shared several photos of the occasion.

Although high-profile visitors to Polyphony Digital’s studios are not unheard of, notable guests typically come from world of motorsports or technology. As one of the most influential musical artists and producers of our time, Pharrell is certainly a mainstream, “A-list” celebrity and the most famous to visit Polyphony that we know of.

For those not familiar, Pharrell is a 13-time Grammy Award winner and two-time Academy Award nominee. He has been involved with hits like “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky“, and Calvin Harris’ “Feels“, each of which has been streamed over a billion times on Spotify alone.

He is also a fashion designer, entrepreneur, and movie producer, receiving one of his Academy Award nominations for the critically-acclaimed Hidden Figures in 2016.

There is no immediate reason or explanation available for why Pharrell was visiting Polyphony and he has never been publicly linked to the Gran Turismo brand before.

Pharrell is, reportedly, a car enthusiast, with a collection that includes a number of Rolls Royces, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a Porsche 550 Spyder, a Ferrari Enzo, and a Tesla Cybertruck (which he apparently has trouble parking).

He can also be seen wearing a Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari during his visit to Polyphony’s studios (it’s the world’s thinnest mechanical watch with a retail price of $1.8 million USD). However, there are more direct connections which can be made.

Music, of course, would be the most obvious reason for his visit.

In a group photo shared by Yamauchi-san, Polyphony Digital’s own composer and producer Daiki Kasho can be seen front and center with Pharrell. As we know from our own visit to this office in 2019, Kasho-san has a music studio on-site where he could work or collaborate with Pharrell as needed.

From a practical standpoint, it would not be a stretch to imagine Pharrell on a future Gran Turismo sound track: Pharrell has been signed with Sony Music for nearly 30 years.

There are also possible connections through the fashion world.

Last year, Louis Vuitton appointed Pharrell as its Men’s Creative Director, one of the most prestigious positions in the company and the fashion industry at large.

Louis Vuitton is part of the LVMH group, a holding company which owns other luxury brands including Christian Dior and Bulgari — both of which have recently launched Gran Turismo collaborations, including Bulgari’s Vision GT car and limited edition watch.

What was the reason for Pharrell’s visit? Polyphony Digital certainly knows how to throw a good party, but it seems unlikely this was just a social call. Hopefully we will learn more soon.

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