Where does your journey with A.I. start?
Honestly it began when I was a kid, which is weird maybe. We were going through my old college sketch pads last year and we found a bunch of A.I. theory. I’ve always been talking about this; it just wasn’t possible before. But I started getting into the possibilities of art a bit before the crypto times. That’s when we were trying to open-source Grimes for the first time — 2018 or 2019.
What does it mean to “open-source” Grimes?
I’m really interested in the art of identity. We tried to sell my soul — 10 percent of it — in a legally binding agreement. But no one cared, and also it’s at a ridiculously high price that no one will ever buy — like $10 billion. But if they do buy it, then I accept my fate and it’d be worth it.
Only one person you know can afford that.
Yeah, I don’t think he’s going to pay for that. But my soul is already gone. I’ve already completely lost control of the Grimes narrative. Like, I’m accused of war crimes all the time.
So how do you go from that to open-sourcing Grimes musically?
I feel probably less pain than the average person would about such things, because the amount of ego death that I’ve had to go through in order to even just continue being functional is pretty high. The sort of weird, icky feeling a lot of people get when they hear their voice being used in a way that they did not intend — I’m just subject to more crazy press than the average person. I’m so used to it.
Grimes started because I was in a very punk scene and it seemed edgy to put on a pink dress and dance around and make pop music. Part of what I was interested in doing at the time was upsetting people. Even now, what are the boundaries? What is the Overton window of art? What is allowed?
How would you explain to, say, your grandmother, what you’re doing with A.I. now?
People keep getting really upset, being like, “I want to hear something that a human made!” And I’m like, humans made all of this. You still have to write the song, produce the song and sing the vocal. The part that is A.I. is taking the harmonics and the timbre of the vocal and moving them to be consistent with my voice, as opposed to the person’s original voice. It’s like a new microphone.