I went onto your site and there's a tab called Yeezy Sense that you can only get into with a password. What's that about?
Sandu: So, Yeezy Sense is a top secret project. You can write that in the article. [Laughs]
OK. I won’t try and hack my way into it. What are some new technologies or ideas you've introduced to Kanye?
Sandu: I met Kanye about two years ago. It wasn't until my big bro, Akon's brother [Abou] Bu [Thiam] actually sat me and Ye in a room together. It was instant best friends. He was like, “Yo, let's go to my house,” because we were both passionate about architecture. He takes me straight to his house and was like “Check out this, I want you to contribute, I want you to design stuff. I want your energy here.” When he was tweeting about social media and how we should get rid of likes and followers. I put him on to that. If you ever see him use the world "exposure," I put him onto that. I put him on to things like quantum computing, spatial computing, spatial mapping and how he can take his artistry to a whole other level.
You've consulted for Google, Uber, Instagram to name a few, but I went on your Instagram and you said Rihanna telling her followers to delete Snapchat, and Snapchat’s value dropping by $800 million, shows the disconnect between tech companies and the culture. Do you still believe that?
Sandu: One thousand percent. There's a huuuuge disconnect. That's why I'm not working with tech companies anymore. Right now, I'm working on the biggest project I've ever worked on. It's called HALT, and it's going to revolutionize infrastructural development. It's going to really fuck shit up. But, to your original point, there is a huge disconnect. For example, let's look at Kim Kardashian. Let's assume Instagram has 1 billion accounts. Twenty percent of that billion is 200 million, and Kim Kardashian has around 200 million followers. So, Kim Kardashian, in many ways would be equivalent of 20 percent of Instagram's company. [Instagram] makes it seem as though you should be happy to be on this platform when in reality they should be happy to service you. [Editor’s note: Kim Kardashian has 124 million Instagram followers, and Instagram has 1 billion active monthly users.]
You have some pretty radical ideas in an age where, I feel, we sort of exist in an echo chamber of the same opinions, a lot of times.
Sandu: We live in a society now, due to social media and everything, as much as we say we want people to be different, we honestly want everybody to be the same. The moment that one person stands out and says something that contradicts popular opinion, then that person is x'ed out, like we're seeing with Ye and everything like that. Kanye and I don't agree with everything and we expressed that to each other. But, I respect that man for not being controlled by the masses and being able to think.
You’re working on augmented reality experiences with Jaden Smith for ComplexCon in Chicago?
Sandu: I do have some connection with Complex, and I do want to produce some augmented reality content. We haven’t officially started talking about it, but we do have some installations that we are gearing up to show at ComplexCon this year.
You have big plans of using technology to break down barriers, starting with the music industry. Have you had talks with other artists about what you can help them with by using technology?
Sandu: Mostly me and my bro Jaden. That's one of my good friends now. We've just been building because he's also a visionary. But, in the music industry, specifically, not too many people. No disrespect to artists, but there's only a few artists that can understand this to the level of a Kanye. Kanye and Nipsey, really. But, there's a reason why he's Kanye. This man is very, very intelligent, and he's very, very informed, and exposed on what he wants to focus on. I do plan on working with other artists in the future. I've talked to Diddy. I've talked to Nas. I've talked to SZA, Kendrick, and people like that, about doing experiences. Another person who's a friend of mine, Yara [Shahidi], she has a show called Grown-ish. We're building on how we can really affect the culture on a larger scale.
But, I'm really focused on this top-secret project, which is going to really provide economic empowerment. There's a company called Bird; they make scooters. They are the fastest growing startup in history. They became a $2.3 billion company in a year and a half. My message to any artist out there or anybody that's going to read this is: Yes, we can we can focus on micro industries like we've been doing with fashion, entertainment, basketball, and all of these things. Or, we can focus on the macro infrastructures, which are kernels, operating systems, cloud services. You know, the government uses Amazon to host all of its data? Amazon is obviously the largest company in the world, but even the government uses Amazon to host its data with its cloud services. Think about that.