ill.i.am has just flown into the UK to record the 10th series of The Voice — and he is using his time in quarantine wholesomely. He tells me that he is on a juice cleanse.
“I haven’t chewed food in four days, and I work out twice a day,” he says enthusiastically. “Back in October I juiced the whole entire month.”
We are virtually here to talk about Will.i.am’s latest venture. With a reported net worth of about $70 million (£50 million) the lead singer of the Black Eyed Peas, real name, William Adams Jr, has had his finger in many pies. The musician-turned-tech mogul was a founding shareholder in Beats, the headphone brand created by hip hop artist Dr Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine, and set up i.am+, a tech company which dabbles in wearables, headphones and iPhone cases, in 2013.
Self-care is important to Will.i.am, who is living a radically healthier lifestyle these days. In 2017, he weighed 15 stone and his blood pressure and cholesterol shot up. “I was eating and travelling a lot and carbin’ it up and chippin’ it and eating bad,” he says. “Then the doctor tried to prescribe me high blood pressure pills and I didn’t like that I had to take the same pills that my uncle takes.” So he opted for a different method — he went vegan. After three weeks, he went back to the doctor 20 pounds lighter. “My blood pressure was normal, cholesterol normal and he asked ‘what did I do?’ and I told him I’m plant-based.”
He says he has been on a “four-year journey that’s really transformed my life”. “Once you’ve cleaned your body out of all the toxins, you don’t have any cravings,” he says, evangelical about his path. “What I crave now is juice.”
He works out twice a day, doing a form of HIIT. “I’ve always worked out but when you work out and eat right it’s a totally different realm. Not that I’m trying to build muscle and get all swoll. I just wanted to tone up,” he adds. “So you know squats, burpees, a lot of reps. Three sets of four different workouts, that’s my daily routine even in quarantine, no excuses. If you can’t turn your living room into a gym then you can’t turn your mind into the conscious machine to stay well.” This is his style of speaking, in catchy phrases that occasionally verge on riddles.
He was anxious about flying to the UK in the middle of the pandemic, he admits, “because of the new variant, it’s kinda scary, you know”. And his nerves are affecting his sleep. “I can sleep anywhere but if there’s a lot on my mind it’s hard for me to sleep, like now. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a minute and that’s just because of anxiety.”
When he does get some downtime, he likes to unwind in the tub. “I’m a bath kind of dude. If I get enough me time, I’m bath man.” He says he uses the Vaay CBD bath bomb for extra chill factor, and was first introduced to the products through his masseuse, “when she massaged me I saw the difference between that and traditional oil.” Now he uses the CBD active gel primarily to aid his recovery in between home workouts. He was attracted to the brand as it can “bring ease to people’s lives” at a time when we could all do with some zen vibes.
How does he find inner calm in these uncertain times? “Music, creating stuff, solving problems and collaborating. I’m sensitive to vibes, that’s the reason why I record at night because you could feel the city and calmness, the ideas come easy when it’s not hectic out,” he says.
“One thing that I like is when people build brands and companies and products, that to me is heaven. Getting behind people and investing and helping other entrepreneurs get on and bring a product to market, that to me is calming and peace because that’s all I know: hunting the dream.”