ROLI, the UK startup that has created next-generation musical instruments, like the Seaboard and ROLI BLOCKS, has announced that Pharrell Williams is joining the team as Chief Creative Officer.
Williams, the producer, songwriter and cultural icon, said: “Music touches all of us, and for a long time I’ve been passionate about finding ways to share the power of music with more people. When I met Roland and ROLI, I immediately felt we were working towards exactly the same goals, and so I’m super excited that we’re kicking off this partnership.”
Roland Lamb, founder of ROLI and inventor of its instruments, said: “Our mission is to empower everyone to create music, and more broadly to empower people as creators. Pharrell is not just an extraordinary musician, he embodies creativity. His ideas will take us in exciting new directions.”
As Chief Creative Officer Pharrell will work with Roland to develop revolutionary new musical instruments that are iconic, digitally connected, and accessible to all. Their collaboration will accelerate the arc of innovation that began with the award-winning Seaboard and BLOCKS, which have been called “two of the most compelling music-making devices in recent memory.” As part of their long-term partnership, Pharrell will invest and become a co-owner of ROLI.
In an event Thursday (October 26) at London’s historic Hackney Empire theater, Pharrell and Roland discussed the question “Why Create?” Sharing their experiences as musicians and technologists, they explored how technology is unleashing new ways for people to express themselves creatively in music and beyond.
Over the past year more music-makers than ever have played ROLI instruments. BLOCKS, a Lego-like system for music creation, launched in November 2016 to worldwide acclaim. The Seaboard Block and a next-generation Lightpad Block are the newest Blocks in the modular system, which empowers people to create songs and also customize the instrument on which they play it.