Pharrell Williams, Louis XIII Cognac counter global warming with '100 Years'

  • People
  • Saturday, 16 Dec 2017

Ludovic du Plessis (left) and Pharrell Williams ready to seal up the clay record with the song '100 Years' which will not be heard till 2117.

When the media first caught wind of Pharrell Williams’ new song 100 Years being released in 2117, many of us assumed the year was a typo. It was a stroke of genius as from the word go, interest had already been piqued and people were all curious about “the song that would not be heard”.

The unique composition created by Pharrell was an innovative project done in collaboration with the premium cognac brand Louis XIII due to a shared dedication to environmental issues. A creative expression of the delicate relationship between nature and time, it speaks of the effect humans have on their environment.

100 Years premiered during a private listening party in Shanghai where the song was played just once. The 100 lucky guests in attendance literally had their handphones locked up to prevent them from recording the once-in-a-lifetime experience, to ensure the song remained a secret for the next century. The aim was to inspire and motivate guests to take action by getting involved in efforts to curb global warming.

100 Years clay record by Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams with Zhao Wei (L) and Li Bing Bing, who were among the 100 invited to the '100 Years' event in Shanghai.

Getting The Message Across

“There are two main messages. The first is a tribute to Louis XIII’s long-standing relationship with time. When we say think a century ahead, it means a lot of things to us,” explained Ludovic du Plessis, global executive director of Louis XIII during an exclusive interview in Shanghai.

That’s because Louis XIII takes 100 years to age and represents the life achievement of generations of cellar masters.

Founded in 1874 by Paul Emile Remy Martin, the brew is a product of its creators’ brilliance, a unique amalgamation of the environment and generations of owners and cellar masters. Louis XIII is an exquisite blend of up to 1,200 eaux-de-vie sourced 100% from Grande Champagne, the first cru of the Cognac region.

“Secondly, this will only be released in 2117 #ifwecare. Just like John Malkovich’s movie 100 Years: The Movie You Will Never See in 2015 (an earlier project that explored the relationship of the past, present and future), here is a song that will only be heard in 100 years from now,” said du Plessis.

“The message #ifwecare – nothing is more important to Louis XIII than our soil – without a good relationship with nature and fine balance, even the best cellar master would not be able to produce the exceptional blend that is Louis XIII,” he added.

The exclusive track was recorded onto a record made of clay from the chalky soil of the Cognac region and has been stored in a state-of-the-art self-timer safe with a bullet-proof window specially designed by Fichet-Bauche that is only destructible when submerged in water.

If sea levels continue to rise due to climate change, scientists warn that in 100 years, a portion of the world’s land might be underwater. The only way to guarantee the song will be heard again is if the tragic consequences of global warming are addressed.

“The safe is going to travel all around the world – after all, it is like a piece of art – and we will raise money for climate change charities,” said du Plessis.

100 Years clay record by Pharrell Williams
The clay record with Williams' '100 Years' in a safe.

Secret Song To Counter Global Warming

Following the event in Shanghai, Louis XIII Cognac will go on an international tour with the safe to major cities around the world to raise awareness and funds for environmental organisations. Through these events, Louis XIII will directly support associations dedicated to curbing climate change on a local level.

“#Ifwecare in 100 years, my bottle of Louis XIII and the record will be here. I have a strong hope that all our descendants will be able to hear the song,” he said, adding that a turntable has been included and all that would be needed is power to plug into to play it.

“A lot of people talk about climate change but as a company, we are doing what we can. It’s about sending a message to the next generation, and to get everyone to do something and start a chain reaction,” he said.

“When I started with Louis XIII three years ago, I discovered that it not only appealed to men, but also to women as it is very smooth and ethereal. The new generation has to be educated about Louis XIII. And when they know about the brand, they love it as they engage with the story behind the brand – our vision ‘Think a century ahead’ really speaks to them,” added du Plessis.

Pharrell, 44, was the natural choice for the brand as he “speaks to everyone and is one of the best artistes of his generation. Best of the best,” he expressed.

“He is someone who really cares, with a heart for the environment, and more importantly, he gets it,” he emphasised.

This is reflected by Pharrell’s statement: “I love the fact that Louis XIII thinks a century ahead.”

He further added: “We should all do the same for the planet. We have a common interest in preserving nature for the future. We only have one home and we’re not doing what we should. Louis XIII cares about its own soil, and it goes beyond business – it’s a lifestyle and cultural, this need for preservation. It’s about legacy and transmission.”

The award-winning American musician and producer, singer and songwriter, has long been a passionate advocate for environmental issues. Among his many affirmative projects are an eco-couture line, Bionic Yarn, made from recycled plastic water bottles, a sustainable clothing line and calling for green jobs at the International Labour Organisation Summit in 2015.

To compose 100 Years, the challenges were many. Pharrell said he would have had to weigh in stuff like what kind of music people would be listening to in the future, or if they even listened to music at all and how they would experience music.

“Instead, I put all that out of my mind and concentrated on the message,” he said.

100 Years clay record by Pharrell Williams
Williams' hope for the '100 Years' song is that it will raise awareness on global warming.

Caring About Earth

In an interview with Life Inspired, Pharrell explained that the first half of the song had a folk approach and took on a sarcastic tone, “to troll all the pseudo scientists that don’t care about the environment and eco-system”.

The second half was darker and more aggro – “to fight fire with fire”.

His message to the next generation?

“I don’t even know if they need a message; they care about others, not so much about owning car … or even a song, they have a different appreciation for things. It’s the older generation that’s been sold the American Dream that’s not so enthusiastic about the environment,” said Pharrell.

When asked what kind of world he hoped for his grandchildren in 100 years’ time, Pharrell said he would want one that gave more position of power to women.

Interestingly, while he enjoys a glass of Louis XIII, he admitted to not really being much of a drinker, “having lived on Sprite for the first 30 years of my life”, and these days, preferring a glass of pineapple juice.

The Remy Cointreau Group, including Louis XIII, has long been dedicated to international efforts to curb global warming. Taking action to help battle climate change is one of the main objectives, with one of its goals being to reduce the group’s greenhouse gases and carbon footprint. Top priorities are also being given to sustainable wine-growing practices, energy efficiency, eco-friendly packaging, optimisation of product shipments and forest conservation.

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