INTERVIEW: Pharrell Williams & Mette Towley Talk "Lemon," Teach Lemon Dance
By Nicole Mastrogiannis
February 27, 2018
Late last year, N.E.R.D. surprised fans with a new single, "Lemon," featuring Rihanna, followed by a brand new album NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES, which is their first full-length LP in seven years (since 2010's Nothing). Aside from Rihanna, the new record also includes features from artists like Kendrick Lamar, Wale, Future, André 3000, M.I.A., and Ed Sheeran.
NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES's lead single "Lemon" also comes with a music video, with its own dance as perfectly illustrated by the visual's star, dancer Mette Towley, who also had her head shaven in the clip by Rihanna. During an exclusive interview with iHeartRadio, Pharrell Williams and Mette talked about the song's meaning, as well as demonstrated just how to do the Lemon Dance. So get your dancing shoes ready.
On the meaning behind "Lemon"
The expression of referring to something or someone as a "lemon" can sometimes be used to describe that thing or that person as a dud. The lemon is a fruit, but it's a sour fruit, which ties into the song's meaning. Pharrell explains:
"Lemon is a fruit. It is bitter. Hence, the origin of the song. It's like when we all have the potential to be very fruitful as human beings, but there's certain times where people act like they're like happy for you, but when they answer your question or when they see you, it's kinda like they just bit into a lemon. And that's kinda like what it's about."
But visually, "Lemon" holds another meaning, and as Pharrell says, "It's about [Mette]."
Mette explains of the meaning behind the choreography in the music video, which was choreographed by JaQuel Knight,"Visually, 'Lemon,' in the tutorial, is all about claiming your power and being willing to start over, and start over with a fierceness. The choreography reflects that, and JaQuel Knight really captured that."
How to do The Lemon Dance
The Lemon Dance is something that Mette performs throughout the entire "Lemon" music video, and it's a series of leg and arm movements. Mette explains just how to do it.
Step 1 - The Lemon: "So this one's called 'The Lemon,' and it goes left, right, around. Right, left, around."
Step 2 - I See Dead People: But, it doesn't end there. One of her favorite moves in music video is one she calls the "I See Dead People." She tells us:
"Then you have one of my personal favorites, and I know this is one of your [Pharrell's] favorites too, so you should do it with me, is the 'I see dead people.' Where all the sudden there's a break in the music and everybody goes like..."
Pharrell on Mette's Involvement in the new project
N.E.R.D. may officially be comprised of three members, but Pharrell explains that Mette has been such a big part of, not only "Lemon," but throughout the rest of the project too that she is practically a fourth member. He tells us of working with the 26-year-old:
"Mette's been my favorite part of, not only this song, but the project. Only because I feel like she, literally, just as she did in the video, she embodies everything that we wanted to express to allow other people to have that ... you know, recognize and acknowledge that same access to freedom. Which is the willingness to just say yes, and move forward, and live it and be it. And, even in the project, while we were making the album, she was there a lot of the time, in the session, around the session. If I needed extra vocals, she was there. While I'm making a beat, she's like dancing around. She was a huge force and continues to be a huge force in this project. I half jokingly say she's a fourth member."
As for what fans can expect for the reset of 2018, Pharrell tells us, "We're so excited. And I think as a band we're just excited for everybody because there's so much power in the word 'now.' And we intend to exercise it as much as we can with our songs, with our visuals, with our live experiences. And we in turn want people to mirror that same ambition."
Watch the official "Lemon" music video below.
Photos: Katherine Tyler