Brent Paschke Bio
Brent Paschke is a guitarist, producer, songwriter, and author based in Los Angeles, California. He is best known as Pharrell Williams’ guitarist, having worked with the singer/songwriter/producer since 2001. Paschke accompanies Williams in the studio and on tour, and his guitar performances appear on such Pharrell projects as G I R L (2015 Grammy winner for Best Urban Contemporary Album) and Hidden Figures: The Album (2017 Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Score). Brent has also worked with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Chris Brown, New Kids on the Block, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Brown, and many other artists.
Brent grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He started playing guitar at age 12. After high school Brent continued his musical studies at Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Music Tech (now known as McNally Smith College of Music). He graduated with a music degree in 1992.
In 1993 Brent co-founded the band Spymob with John Ostby and Eric Fawcett. Spymob cut its teeth in the Minneapolis music scene before landing a record deal with Epic Records in 1999. Epic dropped the band 18 months later, but that proved to be a stroke of luck because it prompted Spymob to connect with the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), a then-up-and-coming production team also performing under the name N.E.R.D.
“Meeting Pharrell and Chad was one of those pivotal moments for me,” recalls Brent. “It was the perfect setup for me as a musician, and it came at exactly the right time and place.”
N.E.R.D. had been nearing completion of their first album, In Search Of … using only synthesized instruments. But when they heard Spymob, they decided that the band’s realtime playing was the necessary ingredient to compete the album. Williams and Hugo signed Spymob to their own label, Star Trak Records. The band appears on 2003’s The Neptunes Present … Clones album.
Spymob toured with N.E.R.D. from 2001 through 2004, serving as both backing band and opening act. N.E.R.D./Spymob supported such acts as Jay-Z, Maroon 5, the Black Eyed Peas, the Roots, and Dave Matthews.
Spymob disbanded after those tours. Brent decided to focus on music production, initially in Minneapolis. But in 2006, he relocated to Los Angeles. “Being in LA opened a lot of doors for me,” he says. “I still worked with Pharrell and Chad on sessions from time to time, but I picked up lots of other work and experiences.”
Brent expanded his playing, writing, and production resumes working with top-tier producers like Tricky Stewart, Rodney Jerkins, Ryan Leslie, and Matt Serletic. He contributed to Britney Spears’s Femme Fatale, Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger, and Ryan Leslie’s Transition. He landed production and writing credits on Chris Brown’s X, Girlicious’s Rebuilt, New Kids of the Block’s 10, and Cris Cab’s Where I Belong. He also appears on Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, a 2012 Grammy Record of the Year nominee.
In 2013 Brent got even busier thanks to the record-shattering international success of Pharrell’s song “Happy.” “Pharrell’s schedule started picking up,” says Brent. “He was having me play guitar on records he did for other artists. I played most of the guitars on his second solo album, G I R L. The next few years were a blur of touring and sessions. Thanks to Pharrell’s success, even more work came my way.”
Brent still serves as Pharrell’s principal guitarist onstage and in the studio. When he’s not performing or recording, he spearheads the development of Tuniversity.
Brent co-founded Tuniversity in 2015 with Kiko Doran & Pharrell Williams. Brent approached Pharrell with his vision of using Apple’s iBooks, GarageBand, and iTunes University to teach music creation and production. Williams has been an avid booster and contributor ever since. From 2016 until Tuniversity’s launch in June of 2017 Brent and Kiko developed the first book and teaching method used by Tuniversity.
Tuniversity publications teach music creation by deconstructing and then reconstructing today’s biggest pop hits. Students learn songwriting, arrangement, performance, and production by “peering over the shoulders” of the world’s leading artists and producers. Tuniversity also employs pop songs as vehicles to teach topics other than music.