Kanye on creativity at Cannes
FINAL UPDATE: Video of the full 53 minute panel above!
UPDATE (06.18.14): One more video highlight package has a good clip of Stoute, ‘Ye, and Horowitz.
06.17.14: Earlier today, Kanye West spoke on a panel with Steve Stoute and Ben Horowitz and along the way served up a lot of powerful quotables in regards to creativity, the Internet, the Apple/Beats deal, and much more. Here’s an aggregated rundown via Adweek below. Hopefully more video than these clips as well soon too because, per usual, I’m fascinated by Kanye’s expressing thoughts and I need to hear how he delivers such ideas like this first one. And just by reading this, I would love to know more.
The world as a whole is fucking ugly. The Internet as a whole is fucking ugly, too. But I’m not in the construction business.
I said to Kevin [Systrom], why don’t you let us redo Instagram? Now, you know, Instagram is nice. It’s nice looking. I’m not knocking it. But just in general, everyone spends all of their time looking at their screens or their phones. And just as a simple task, we could clean that up.
“Right here, in Cannes, right now, we have enough people with the sensibilities and connections to completely make that a more beautiful place,” he added. “That is our future. People ask, Where’s our future? Where’s our flying cars? That is the world that’s floating above us right now. And we can make that beautiful with the people in Cannes right now.”
From the full Adweek report:
A year after an ailing Lou Reed praised West’s genius on the very same stage, West flew in as a late addition to Translation’s seminar, titled “Technology, Culture, and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape.” Welcomed with rapturous applause by the crowd at the Palais, West was in rare form—laughing, interrupting, ruminating and charmingly holding forth on everything from brands to web design to the Apple/Beats deal.
He even threw a few barbs at Annie Leibovitz and Samsung.
“I don’t want to say these really big over-the-top statements that end up getting quoted,” West said early on in the chat with Translation CEO Steve Stoute and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz. But he did so anyway, of course—beginning with that Jobs comparison again.
“Steve Jobs, as everyone knows, was my biggest influence. Just seeing the way he fought to make things easier for people. After he passed, I made it my life’s mission to do what he did inside of that company,” West said. “I dream to help raise the palette and raise the taste level of a generation and also be involved with the production and distribution and advertising of that thing everyone’s begging for.”
The thing they’re begging for, he said—particularly younger people—is a more beautiful world where brands help people achieve things rather than simply barking at them. West has been spending time with Spike Jonze here in Cannes this week—and he pointed to Jonze’s movie Her as an appealing vision of the future, where branding is minimized and utility optimized. (West himself has designed water bottles with no branding on them—because, after all, you already know it’s water.)
“People are less about the brand and more about self-confidence and how the brands can assist them, similar to what Steve was doing with tech,” West said. “This is my goal in lifestyle, in everyday life—to change the idea of what luxury is. Because time is the only luxury. It’s not all these brands that we just drove by that are somehow selling our esteem back to us through association.”
West illustrated his obsession with design with an amusing story about the wedding photo in which he is kissing Kim Kardashian against a backdrop of flowers—an image he worked on “for like four days” to get the colors right.
“This is pissing my girl off during the honeymoon,” he said. “Annie Leibovitz pulled out right before the wedding—maybe she was scared about the idea of celebrity. … But I still wanted my wedding photos to look like Annie Leibovitz. Now, can you imagine telling someone who just wants to Instagram a photo, the No. 1 person on Instagram, that we need to work on the color of the flowered wall? But the fact that the No. 1 most liked photo has this certain aesthetic on it was a win for what the mission is—of raising the palette.”
West’s moral views on design came most sharply into focus when he acknowledged that celebrities are so often thought of as trashy—another thing he wants to change.
“When people think celebrity, which is the highest form of communication—we’re like walking networks or TV shows or brands in ourselves—you don’t think good taste,” he said. “And I believe that bad taste is vulgar. It’s like cursing. I think the world can be saved through design. Because what is the most distasteful thing someone can do? Kill someone. So, good taste is the opposite of that.”