Interview: Everything Everything – The Sound of Violence

On the occasion of the release of the sixth album of Everything Everything, we met their singer Jonathan Higgs through Zoom. We were able to learn more about this very rich Feel the raw information And talk about the use of artificial intelligence, the creation of albums and the mysterious character of Kevin.

In this album, you have used artificial intelligence to create lyrics. How does it work?

I give AI a lot of words to learn, data to understand. I gave him a lot of weird things to read, for example terms and old poems, things like that. AI has learned everything, and then I’ve been able to ask it questions that it can answer. Then I took what he was saying and put it in my songs, you know, in some small place.

Like Pizza Boy? Because the lyrics are so funny …

Um, of course, yes, I know this, why it’s something known in advance Pizza boy. I can’t remember. But I’m not sure. Also, I said that I would not tell anyone what is from AI and what is from me, so no one knows.

Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either.

You will be amazed to know what is from AI and what is from me! And that’s what I want.

I got it! The lyrics of this song are really funny. You said you wanted to have fun on this album. With the lyrics, right?

Yes, definitely! We had a lot of heavy ideas on the last album (note: Re-animator, Released in 2020) and it wasn’t particularly funny, I think it was too serious, too heavy. It came in the middle of an epidemic and there was a lot that we wanted to do differently. So we thought with that, we would write and record fast, have fun and create music that we feel good about, without thinking too much about it.

Do you think the epidemic pushed you to write a new album so fast?

Yes, we had, we had the time, we absolutely could not go on tour. There was nothing that we did to cause it Re-animator. We just had to post it and say, “Here!” We did a few videos but we had nothing to do but we made a new album right after. Epidemic, what …

You created this new album yourself, didn’t you?

Yes, Alex (note: Roberts, guitarist) is the producer.

And in general, what is the impact on this record?

I guess Alex really liked the mix of the last Arcade Fire album, or in the end, I can’t remember. He didn’t stop talking about his production.

Was it everything now or was it reflective?

One of the two, I don’t know. But he loved producing those albums and I think he tried to write songs with that kind of sound and space. And he also listens to a lot of techno, hard dance music. So I think it ended up on the album. Personally, I haven’t heard anything in particular. The album wasn’t really influenced by anything else, other than our lives.

And how did you come up with this idea of ​​using AI, poetry and things like that?

It was just curiosity, actually. I saw poems written by an AI somewhere on the internet and it seems interesting Because this poem is very good! And I started researching its design. I said to myself: “If it can be done for poetry, it can be done for song.” So one day I started reading it and then I found someone who knows how to do it, so I contacted him.

For previous albums, re-animator, you learned to use Blender software (editor’s note: 3D computer modeling and animation software) for album artwork. Do you lock yourself in some sort of bubble? Because I took some time to imagine?

Yes. And I guess that’s what happened with it Feel the raw information. I was learning to create images and text with AI. So the album cover was created by AI, by me. The same goes for some music videos. These are enhanced by AI, in a way. By everything I learned in this album. I don’t know what to do next!

I was wondering about video clips like that Teletype. Sounds like a nightmare …

Great! Yes.

Is that what you wanted?

Yes! Finally, I wanted you to feel that you are afraid of something that is not real. You know it’s not real but your brain is telling you “this is a person, this is a person, this is a person”, but there is something wrong, not really right, and I like it.

What kind of machine was used in the album and mixed with other instruments?

Alex now makes his own synthesizer, the modular synthesizer. He makes these, oh … small machines, and binds them all together. It’s hard to explain but he now makes his own electronic device. I can’t even explain it to you, I don’t think he has the same tools! And then he works hard in his room and a little “beep” comes out of the machine. I don’t even know (laughs) I just think it’s cool (laughs).

Can you tell me about Kevin?

Yes. He’s a character I’ve created so I can talk about things in a third person. Well, not in the third person but as a proxy. I guess I didn’t want to talk about myself anymore, me and I on another album again. But there were still some things I wanted to talk about so I created the characters and let them act in the scene. It’s easy for me to say “he’s just a character”. Although in the end I’m talking about myself, I can put it a bit away. That was the idea behind all this.

About the technology used to create video clips: What software did you use?

It’s very new. This is called “GAN”: “Generated Automated Network”. This is an AI that is smart enough to recognize a picture of a cat. You can call him a “cat with a hat”: he will try to create an image of a cat with a hat. You can complicate this. Suppose you give him a picture of an apple and you say “cat with hat”. He will try to turn the apple into a cat with a hat. This is the simplest version. So I did it with every shot of my video. I told AI to turn us into skeletons and tried to do it. It doesn’t do it perfectly, but it does manage to create incredible images. And the rendering was super cool. We haven’t really seen anything like it. In the years to come, I’m sure you’ll see a lot of things like this, where you say to see an image, you don’t really make it anymore. You just say “give me a chair that looks like a lawyer” and it will appear magically. I think it will be too soon.

So all of this gave birth to the notion of artificial intelligence present on the album?

I think I was looking for a way to use it and get past some things. I am using computer brain instead of my own brain. I can create characters, use computers to help me, avoid certain things. Make technology my friend, help me to feel better, not to work. I told myself, “If a computer thinks these things, I don’t have to.”

And does it work? Feeling better now?

I think so. Because I didn’t have to feel completely destroyed, which usually happens when you record an album (laughs). This AI has arrived and become the center of the story … in my place.

Do you plan to play with Foals again? It was programmed, and then the epidemic came …

It was scheduled. But we are not going to play these concerts that were planned. Maybe we’ll do something in the future. But not all of them.

One last word you want to add about the album?

Only I’m so proud of it, that we did it all on our own, which we always have, but this time we made it, wrote it, we made all these videos and artwork, and it’s the most “everything” album that exists! And I think that’s our best. This is my message. If you like us, you’ll love it.

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