It’s not a meeting of minds that too many saw coming – but it seems that British folk-rock act Mumford & Sons and uber-cool producer/singer/business mogul/all-round Renaissance man Pharrell Williams are not only good friends, but also musical collaborators.
At a surprise performance at Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton Men’s Autumn/Winter 2024 runway show at Paris Fashion Week (he’s also Men’s Creative Director of the high-end fashion brand, on top of everything else) Mumford & Sons was joined by Pharrell to debut their new single together, “Good People”.
Pharrell also took the opportunity to air his leaked Miley Cyrus collaboration "Doctor" during the fashion show. The track, thought by fans to have been written during sessions for her 2013 album Bangerz, had not previously been played in public.
As well as writing, recording and producing "Good People" with Mumford & Sons, Pharrell also provides backing vocals on the track alongside the Native Vocalists, a six-piece dynamic vocal choir from the USA and Canada, hailing from their respective Native American Tribes within the Northern Great Plains. Click to listen below.
“Good People” marks the band’s first new music since the 2019 single “Blind Leading the Blind”. Their last studio album was 2018’s Delta, which reached No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard 200.
The (on paper at least) unlikely friendship between Pharrell and the Mumfords began when they met while touring the festivals circuit over a decade ago, with Marcus Mumford later joining the former Neptunes frontman to perform “Get Lucky” at the One Love Manchester benefit concert in 2017.
According to a statement released by the band, the idea to create new material together came after the trio played at Pharrell’s Something in the Water festival at Virginia Beach last year: “Their mutual admiration and respect had only grown over the years, and they decided to join up in New York and then Paris to write and record some new songs together, with Pharrell producing. A new track, ‘Good People’, burst into fruition, out of the joy, hope and energy in the room.”
Speaking to GQ magazine about the collaboration, Marcus Mumford said: “There was just a lot of mutual respect and admiration. I've been on stage with a lot of charismatic performers, but he wipes the floor with any of them.
“We talked about how change doesn’t come without a revelation first. And we both had experience with that. We’d all had experience with that, and it felt like we were ready to write a song that felt quite connected to how we were feeling and reaching into some soulful level.”
Pharrell added: “I always thought that their sound was an interesting one and the aesthetic was just as interesting. And I was very curious as to what it would be like to work with them, there was like a snowball effect of curiosity, and if I could even be of added value.”
After forming in London in 2007 as leading lights of the so-called “Nu-Folk” scene, Mumford & Sons found immediate success with debut LP Sigh No More, which reached No. 2 in the U.K. album charts. Following their performance of single “Little Lion Man” on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2010, they picked up a brace of Grammy nominations, eventually winning the Album of the Year award in 2013 for second LP Babel. Later the same year they headlined the Glastonbury Festival.
The band has been on effective hiatus since 2021, when founding member (and banjo player) Winston Marshall left the group after comments he made on social media were criticized for apparently promoting far right opinions. “Good People” represents Mumford & Sons’ first new music without Marshall and is already leading to speculation of a new album.