Interview: Daniel Arsham and Pharrell Discuss Their Keyboard Sculpture Collaboration

The two artists gave us a quick rundown on what inspired them to re-create the Casio MT-500.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Tonight at the Standard East Village in NYC, Daniel Arsham and Pharrell revealed four sculptures that they created together. Days before on Instagram, Pharrell revealed that the pieces were re-creations of the Casio MT-500, which is the first instrument he ever made music on. He noted that it is "as if it was found in an archaeological dig or in the distant future." Arsham added on Instagram, "I have remade them in volcanic ash, crystal, and steel, as if they have been found in the future." Viewers not only got to see the works, but they also got to hold them using special gloves.

We got a few questions in with the two of them as they mingled with guests from Terry Richardson to CL, KAWS, José Parlá, James Goldstein, Maxwell Osborne, and Dao-Yi Chow.

When I was a little boy, we'd go to Radio Shack for supplies, and I would run straight to the keyboard aisle.

You two have known each other for a while. When did you decide to collaborate on this project?
Daniel Arsham: We decided to do it about a year ago.

Why did you decide to re-create the Casio MT-500, the first instrument you ever created music with?
Pharrell: Daniel asked me what was the first thing I made music on and what it meant to me. My first interaction with the keyboard was when my dad used to work on his trucks and the different car electrical systems and radios. When I was a little boy, we'd go to Radio Shack for supplies, and I would run straight to the keyboard aisle and mess with all the drumpads. When I met Chad in junior high school, he owned one, so after school we'd make crazy little tracks. 

Do you still use the MT-500 to make music ever?
Pharrell: No, but I certainly have to buy one now. 

What new things did you learn about each other and how you each create from working together on this project?
Pharrell: Daniel's a genius, and he comes with a lot of press. The guy is super smart. His work is such a magnet for brilliant, interesting people. People from downtown are here, people from South Korea are here, and it's because his work speaks volumes. For me, I'm lucky to just be a little comma in the sentence of this project. 

Daniel Arsham: Anytime that you get to be in the presence of someone who's doing such important things in our culture and in our time, it's always an honor. I'm very thankful that I got to do this project with such a talented visionary.

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