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Actress Explains Why Collaborating With AI Is The Future Of Music

"There’s something quite scary and dark and sexy about the whole thing."

It’s hardly surprising that Actress would end up making music with artificial intelligence. After all, the British producer’s music has always bristled with a kind of higher-order intelligence, shattering genre with glee and reassembling the pieces into sound sculptures that defy the logic of musical structure or form.

Then Darren Cunningham dropped Young Paint, a six-track release featuring an AI collaborator of the same name. Young Paint is a learning program that, according to a new interview with Cunningham, contributed 30% of the album’s music (Cunningham hopes to boost that to 50% with new “bespoke” AI being developed).


The role of AI in the future of music has become a huge discussion point in recent years. Experiments have ranged from the impressive to the trite and tacky. But Cunningham believes that reckoning with the technology’s potential and tensions will be a necessary part of adapting to the new reality that we now face. As Actress explains:

“The deeper you get into the process, the more you realize this idea of man and machine — of disappearing into the computer — becomes a form of automatic writing. Sleight of hand. You almost don’t feel conscious when you’re working. For me, that’s the tipping zone into the man-machine idea. When I got into electronic music, I recognized early on that a lot of producers hid behind this idea that the computer was “out of reach.” My music has always strived for moments of simplicity, a child-like an experience that can be perceived in it. I’ve wanted to shine a light up against that kind of electronic elitism. This is why I love lo-fi sounds, which are kind of inordinate in reality. It clashes directly with the obsession with fidelity and precision that’s so common in electronic music.”

Listen to Young Paint in full above, and read the full interview over at Interview Magazine here. And all you Berliners can see Actress performing live with Young Paint—who apparently is quite willing to rip the odd solo—live at Transmediale this coming Saturday. Head here for more information.