A$AP Rocky’s new album At.Long.Last.A$AP dropped just days ago, and as part of the inexorable convergence and cross-pollination of pop music and art, he’s collaborating with a visual artist, too. Somehow, in between the wild time he had at South by Southwest (copping LSD from Makonnen and then indulging in three acid-fueled orgies), A$AP Rocky and the artist/”snarchitect” Daniel Arsham met up for a photo shoot. That went well, and the two paired up again at Arsham’s Greenpoint studio, where Arsham took some photos and shot some footage that became the video for the Danger Mouse–produced track “Pharsyde” off Rocky’s album. Later, Arsham went off to Istanbul, where SEEN met up with him, and he shared with us the photos he took with the rapper.
How did you meet A$AP Rocky?
We had been in touch through a number of mutual friends — Pharrell, [A$AP] Ferg. I just kept on seeing him at different places, and he knew my work. He kept on saying, “Let’s do something together,” but you know how his schedule is — crazy. So finally, I ended up seeing him in Austin, Texas, for SXSW this year, and we were both there doing our own thing, but we both had a little bit of downtime, so I did a photo shoot with him there, and I think he was there promoting [the film] Dope at the time. At that time we started talking about doing something together on the album, and so when we got back to New York, we did a shoot together in the studio, and that’s when we also shot that short clip.
That teaser that just came out?
Yeah, the teaser that he released last week.
Was that flag used in the background of some of the images the same one that hung over the Surf Lodge in Montauk last summer?
It was from the same series. It’s a flag … I have had remade in white, and the flags are aged in volcanic ash, this black ash, and over time it starts to degrade, and to me it feels like this future flag.
His last album cover has a flag behind him.
Yeah, both of the previous covers were done with flags, so when he came into the studio and he saw the flag, he was like, “Yes! This was meant to be.”
And you also chose some of your toylike Future Relics to use as props. Did he just play with things around the studio?
Yeah, he gravitated towards certain things, like the 1980s giant radio, some microphones and turntables, these sorts of devices. Obviously he gravitated towards those because he felt that he could kind of own them.
Did you listen to his music a lot before the collaboration?
It’s funny because my studio is in the same place where my architecture studio is, the design practice Snarkitecture, and Alex Mustonen, who is my partner in Snarkitecture, is just blasting hip-hop all day in the studio, so Rocky has been on forever, then when I saw him in Austin, he let me listen to the new album, so I heard that, and I was like … I think it’s a really nice step for him, where he’s going with the new album.
Do you think you’ll work with him again?
Sure. We’re definitely working on another video for the album.
You didn’t shoot that one yet?
No. Trying to align my schedule with his is infinitely complex. I overlapped with him for like three hours in Cannes a couple days ago, and we were trying to get together to go through some stuff, and it just didn’t work.
How much did you guys blaze up while shooting?
I blazed up zero, but I leave him to his own devices. He is who he is, and that’s part of his world.
How many blunts did he smoke?
You’ll have to ask him.