Justin Timberlake just released the Trolls soundtrack (and even dressed as a troll for Halloween), but that doesn’t mean the singer isn’t working on a new album. In fact, JT is back in the lab working on a project that will be unlike his last, 2013’s The 20/20 Experience.
“I wouldn’t say [my new material] is the antithesis of 20/20, but it does sound more singular,” he told Variety for this week’s cover story. “If 20/20 sounded like it literally surrounds your entire head, this stuff feels more like it just punches you between the eyes.”
But don’t ask him for a release date. “I think everyone I’m working with right now knows that I’m notorious for being like, ‘Yeah let’s work. I have no idea when I’ll put it out, though,'” he says. “I’ll put it out when it’s done — when it feels right.”
Some of those collaborators include Pharrell and Timbaland. “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.”
Pharrell, meanwhile, says they’ve got six songs in the can that make him say, “Whoa, what was that? Play that again.”
“I would pay Justin a huge compliment to say he’s just discovering who he is now,” says Pharrell. “For the biggest pop stars in the world, the place where they have the most trouble is honesty. It’s hard for them to know that the beauty of a record, the sweetest spot in the song, is where they show vulnerability. Because there’s a formulaic sort of vulnerability, like, ‘Baby, I can’t sleep without you …’ and that’s not really it. But if you’re able to really screenshot your own vulnerability, and frame it properly, and color-correct it, then it becomes something that every human can relate to. And I think Justin is in the place where he’s mastering that right now.”
In the meantime, Timberlake is filming an untitled Woody Allen movie and can also be seen in the animated film Trolls this Friday (Nov. 4).